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Hillary praises California’s new voter-reg law

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton praised California’s new voter-registration law Saturday, and is coming to the Golden State next week to rally the Asian-American vote.

New laws effective Jan. 1 in California and Oregon mean residents will be automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license, unless they opt out; California’s system won’t take effect until the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Secretary of State’s office work out technical issues. Clinton, who has called for universal, automatic voter registration across the nation, thinks it’s a nifty idea.

Hillary 12-29-2015 in NH (Getty Images)“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and America is stronger when more of us vote. That’s why I and many others have been alarmed to see several states make it harder — not easier — for people to vote,” she said in a news release. “That’s wrong, and goes against everything our country stands for. California and Oregon have the right idea. I hope more states follow their lead. And I hope more Americans step up to defend this right for themselves and each other.”

Clinton’s campaign also announced she’ll be in San Gabriel this Thursday, Jan. 7 with Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park – chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus – to launch Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Hillary.

Joined by dozens of AAPI elected officials and community leaders from across the nation, “Clinton will discuss what’s at stake in this election for the AAPI community, and how she’ll fight for them as president,” her campaign said.

Asian-Americans have emerged as a major, Democrat-leaning voting bloc in battleground swing states such as Nevada, Virginia and Florida.

Clinton also has several fundraisers scheduled for her California visit. She’ll attend a $2,700-a-head luncheon with Chu on Thursday in the San Gabriel Valley, and then a “family celebration” reception Thursday afternoon at Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles, hosted by television and movie producer Lisa Henson and artist and animator David Pressler; tickets range from $500 to $2,700. On Friday, she’s scheduled to attend a $2,700-per-person “Conversation with Hillary” event in San Francisco hosted by Diana Nelson, chairwoman of the Carlson global hospitality and travel company, and then a $2,700-per-person evening reception in Palo Alto hosted by venture capitalist Greg Sands and his wife, Sarah.

Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, by about 23 percentage points, according to the latest average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. She leads Sanders by about 13 points in Iowa, but Sanders leads by about 4 points in New Hampshire.

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GOP knocks Clinton for Solyndra-related supporter

Republicans are trying to revive Solyndra – the Fremont-based solar energy company that went bankrupt in 2011 after receiving a federal loan guarantee – as an issue in 2016’s presidential campaign.

Hillary screenshotThe Republican National Committee has published an opposition research brief titled “Another Scandal in the Making” that knocks Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton for her scheduled attendance Friday at a Tulsa, Okla. fundraiser hosted by billionaire oilman and banker George Kaiser, a prominent Democratic fundraiser.

“Clinton is cashing in with a central figure in the Obama administration’s Solyndra scandal,” the GOP’s memo says.

Bloomberg News reported in 2011 that Kaiser’s family foundation invested $340 million in Solyndra, partly in hope that the solar-cell manufacturer would open a plant in Tulsa.

Solyndra also had received a $535 million loan guarantee from the federal government. The company, facing stiff competition from solar manufacturers in China and elsewhere, declared bankruptcy in September 2011; taxpayers took a loss of about $500 million. However, the renewable-energy loan program overall has made more money than it lost.

Solyndra in 2012 became a poster child for GOP charges of the Obama administration’s cronyism, in that the Energy Department apparently had pushed the loan guarantee through for a company in which several prominent Democratic donors were invested. Republican nominee Mitt Romney held a news conference in May 2012 outside the company’s shuttered headquarters. And an Energy Department inspector general’s report released in August found that Solyndra company officials had misrepresented facts and omitted key information in their efforts to secure the loan guarantee, while the department itself wasn’t adequately diligent and felt political pressure to OK the application.

The GOP’s new memo notes Clinton spoke in support of Solyndra in 2011 while serving as U.S. Secretary of State, and that Kaiser has donated up to $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. It also notes that although Kaiser said he didn’t discuss the loan guarantee with the government, an email trail later revealed that his foundation’s staff had.

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Alex Padilla to stump for Clinton in Reno

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Friday in Reno.

Alex PadillaPadilla, a former three-term president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), will host a meeting with Latino leaders at the Hillary for Nevada Reno headquarters at 1:30 p.m., visit local small businesses owners at 2:40 p.m., and speak at the Washoe County Democrats Virginia Demmler Honor Roll Dinner at 6:30 p.m.

“I share Hillary Clinton’s commitment to voting rights and expanding access to the ballot box,” Padilla said in a Clinton campaign news release. “That’s why I sponsored California’s New Motor Voter Act, which will remove a needless barrier to registration and result in the largest sustained voter registration drive in our nation’s history. While many states are making it harder for citizens to vote, I am proud that California is providing a positive example of how we can and should expand access to the polls.”

Clinton has called for universal, automatic voter registration, so every citizen in every state would be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18, unless they actively choose to opt out. She also wants a new national standard of no fewer than 20 days of early in-person voting in every state, including opportunities for weekend and evening voting.

“Hillary Clinton believes that every voting-age citizen has the right to vote, and by making universal voter registration a reality for everyone, we make it much easier for Americans to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” Padilla continued. “From fighting for immigration reform to helping small businesses grow, Hillary has laid out a plan to strengthen our democracy and our economy, and I’m proud to stand with her in this election.”

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Hillary Clinton to raise funds Nov. 4 in Bay Area

Here she comes again: Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton will be raising funds in the Bay Area again in the first week of November, after doing so here in May, June, August, and September.

This time around, she’ll start Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Sacramento, with a $2,700-per-person luncheon hosted by Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 2010 to 2013. Kounalakis is a four-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention and the daughter of Angelo Tsakopoulos, a Sacramento developer, mega-donor to President Bill Clinton, and key fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential bid in 2008.

Then the candidate is headed for Los Altos, where she’ll attend a “family celebration” hosted by Anne, Esther, Janet, and Susan Wojcicki; $1,000 buys admission for one adult and two children under 16, while $2,700 allows that plus a family photo with Clinton. (Apparently there were $500 tickets available too, but those have sold out.)

Anne Wojcicki is co-founder and CEO of the personal genomics company 23andMe, and the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube. Dr. Janet Wojcicki is a pediatric epidemiologist and assistant professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine. The three sisters’ mother, Esther Wojcicki, is a Palo Alto High School journalism and English teacher who is vice chair of the board of Creative Commons.

Clinton will finish that day down in Beverly Hills with a $2,700-per-person reception at the home of pop star Christina Aguilera and Matthew Rutler; Aguilera will perform. The next day – Thursday, Nov. 5 – she’ll attend a morning event in Los Angeles co-hosted by director Rob Reiner and his wife, Michele, and interior decorator Michael Smith.

UPDATE AT 8:54 AM MONDAY: Whoops, there’s one more Bay Area event. After looping down to Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, Clinton will come north again for a reception Thursday evening at Hall Wines in St. Helena; tickets cost $1,000, or $2,700 for a photo with the candidate.

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Hillary Clinton had a hell of a good week.

After a summer of uneven, if not rather calamitous, performance on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton had a hell of a good week.

Democratic also-rans Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee dropped out – not that they’d made enough ground for Clinton to care, but their absence reduces some of the white noise from the race and from the second debate, scheduled for Nov. 6.

Vice President Joe Biden ended months of speculation Wednesday by announcing he won’t run – a huge boon for Clinton, as his path forward would’ve been to peel away her supporters and donors.

Hillary Clinton at Benghazi hearing 10-22-15 (AP photo)And Thursday’s Benghazi hearing brought nothing new, even by chairman Trey Gowdy’s own admission – 11-plus hours without a solid punch landed, without a gaffe, without Clinton losing her cool.

House Republicans long have wanted to pin Clinton with having ignored intelligence that an attack was coming, or with having stood in the way of sending aid during the attack; neither has been borne out by facts, so they’ve the cover-up narrative is what’s left. Thursday’s hearing probably cemented Republicans’ criticism that she wasn’t completely straight with the public in the days right after the September 2012 attack, but there are more than just political reasons why that might’ve been so. Might not a balance between intelligence, diplomacy and military action sometimes require not publicly tipping your whole hand right away, especially if some misdirection might provide time and space to identify and strike back against those responsible? And if the administration’s comments in the first few days after the attack were motivated only by presidential election politics, wouldn’t they have tried to maintain the charade longer, rather than acknowledging before that month’s end that the evidence supported a premeditated attack? Still, the information she and others put out in the first few days was wrong, and that’s been aired again.

Meanwhile, Democratic primary voters saw an all day-marathon of Clinton looking calm, cool, collected and thoughtful, which is what most want in a presidential candidate. She’s not out of the woods yet – trustworthiness and transparency issues raised by her overall email situation will continue to plague her – but she’s on the path.

Clinton already was trending upward in the polls at this week’s start, based on her performance in last week’s Democratic debate. I expect to see a more dramatic increase next week, as she gains support from many who had been holding out for Biden and as the dust settles from Thursday’s hearing.

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Ellen Tauscher defends Hillary’s email situation

Former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher got into a heated exchange with Fox News anchor Shannon Bream on Sunday while defending Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regarding her private e-mail server.

Tauscher, a Democrat from Alamo, was a strong Clinton supporter during 2008’s Democratic presidential primary. She left Congress in 2009 to go work for then-Secretary of State Clinton as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs until February 2012. She then served six months as special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense.