Report: Kamala Harris living well on campaign trail

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris has a penchant for pricey luxury hotels, cars and airfare, according to a report published Sunday by the National Journal.

Kamala HarrisHarris, California’s attorney general, is seeking the seat that U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer will vacate at the end of next year. She’s competing with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, and Republicans including Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, and former state GOP chairs Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette and Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills.

Per Harris’ latest FEC filing, her campaign had burned through 44 percent of what it has raised. That still left her almost $3 million in the bank (after accounting for outstanding debts), which is far more than Sanchez ($1.25 million) or any of the Republicans have. (UPDATE: Sanchez’s campaign notes that about half the money Harris has banked can’t be used in the primary while all of Sanchez’ bankroll can be, so they’re not really so far apart.) She also has close ties to President Obama’s fundraising network, so it’s unlikely she’ll run out of money anytime soon – or ever.

And the spending – including $18,000 on luxury hotels, $20,000 on car services, and 13 instances of air travel costing more than $1,000 each – still isn’t much in the context of the campaign’s spending overall.

Still, some Democrats are taking Harris to task for what looks like unseemly spending – not a good narrative for a candidate who declared early and tried to clear the field in order to project an aura of inevitability.

And it might make donors wonder what their money really pays for. She’ll attend a fundraiser Wednesday, Dec. 9 in Atlanta, hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed, for which tickets cost $500 to $5,400 each. Then she’ll be back in the Bay Area for a fundraiser Sunday, Dec. 13 in Richmond, hosted by the local chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, and others; tickets for that one cost from $75 to $5,400.


California politicos react to San Bernardino killings

California’s elected officials are sounding off on Wednesday’s mass shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, in which 14 people reportedly were killed and more wounded.

Gov. Jerry Brown cancelled the Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony that had been scheduled for Wednesday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families and everyone affected by the brutal attack,” he said in an emailed statement. “California will spare no effort in bringing these killers to justice.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today, yet another American community is reeling from the horror of gun violence. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of San Bernardino. As the families of the victims grieve and the survivors focus on healing, the entire American family mourns.

“Gun violence is a crisis of epidemic proportions in our nation. Congress has a moral responsibility to vote on common sense measures to prevent the daily agony of gun violence in communities across America. Enough is enough.”

From U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif:

“Today we add San Bernardino to the long list of communities that have fallen victim to a mass shooting, and my heart is with the victims and their families.

“Details in San Bernardino are still murky, but what we do know is that these deadly shootings aren’t slowing down. Just a week after a deadly attack in Colorado Springs, we’re prepared to mourn more victims today.

“The Washington Post reported this week that in the first 334 days of 2015, there were 351 mass shootings. That’s an average of more than one deadly rampage for every day this year.

“USA Today reported that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System ran more than 185,000 checks for gun purchases the day after Thanksgiving. That doesn’t even count the sales that took place online or at gun shows, where no checks are necessary.

“When a convicted felon can walk into a gun show and buy an assault rifle, that’s a problem. When an individual with a known mental illness can buy an assault rifle online, that’s a problem. When a terrorist who can’t board an airplane can buy an assault rifle in a gun store, that’s a problem.
“Congress also has a problem—a debilitating fear of upsetting the gun lobby. Congress refuses even to require background checks on all firearms purchases, an action supported by the vast majority of Americans.

“Each time I see breaking news of yet another mass shooting, I feel it in the pit of my stomach. Congress can’t stop every shooting, but we can help reduce their frequency. I remain hopeful that enough of my colleagues will join me to make that a reality.”

More, after the jump…
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Boxer urges end to Planned Parenthood panel

In the wake of the mass shooting that claimed three lives Friday at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer on Monday urged House Speaker Paul Ryan to disband the new committee targeting the health organization.

Former Speaker John Boehner created the “Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives” in October to probe Planned Parenthood. Boxer, D-Calif., calls it a “witch hunt” against an organization that provides vital healthcare services but hasn’t broken the law.

Some Democrats have faulted the hot rhetoric slung by Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates against Planned Parenthood in recent months for inciting the kind of violence that occurred Friday in Colorado.

“We should not and cannot continue this politically-motivated committee targeting Planned Parenthood, which is already costing taxpayers and helping to create a dangerous climate for legal health care in America,” Boxer wrote Monday to Ryan, R-Wisc. “Since 1977, there have been 11 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings and 186 arsons against abortion clinics and providers.”

“It is time to stop the witch hunt against Planned Parenthood, stop the demonizing rhetoric and disband this committee immediately,” she wrote.

Read the full text of Boxer’s letter, after the jump…
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Sam Liccardo endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo endorsed California Attorney General Kamala Harris for 2016’s U.S. Senate race on Monday, the third of the Bay Area’s big-city mayors to do so.

Sam LiccardoLiccardo, a Democrat one year into his first mayoral term, said Harris “wins results for our families, even when powerful interests try to stand in her way.”

“As a former prosecutor, I watched with admiration as she took on the nation’s biggest banks during the mortgage crisis, winning $20 billion dollars to help families and homeowners in our state,” he said. “And I’ve seen her work hard to keep protect our kids – whether she’s taking down transnational criminal gangs or tackling elementary school truancy and working to ensure every child has a shot at success in school and in life. I’m proud to endorse Kamala in this race and am looking forward to her continuing her fight for us in the U.S. Senate.”

Harris said she’s “humbled” by Liccardo’s endorsement. “We are building a campaign that lifts up the voices of all Californians and gets results for our families. Our fight for California has just begun, and I’m glad to have the mayor on our team.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee endorsed Harris earlier, as did Bay Area House members Mark DeSaulnier, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda and Jared Huffman.

Though Harris has a large lead in fundraising and endorsements, her Democratic rival in this Senate race – Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana – has been making inroads recently around the state. The Orange County Register’s Martin Wisckol noted Sunday that Sanchez has picked up some key endorsements and even here in the Bay Area, Harris’ home turf – including nods from Rep. Anna Eshoo and Rep. Sam Farr.


DiFi urges crackdown on advertising minors for sex

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein this week urged the Justice Department to crack down on websites that advertise minors for prostitution.

Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., authored a section of the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act – which President Obama signed into law in May – that makes this a federal crime.

But in her letter Tuesday to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and FBI Director James Comey, Feinstein wrote that she has “heard from various anti-trafficking task forces in California, and have been informed that the advertisement of minors for commercial sex continues to occur on websites such as Backpage, a website notoriously used by traffickers to advertise victims.”

“Congress and the President have made clear that sex trafficking must be stopped,” she wrote. “This cannot be done without strong action to prevent the continued advertisement of minors for commercial sex over the Internet, which fuels the continued demand for this horrific crime. I urge you to aggressively enforce the provision above, and ask that you report to me quickly what steps are being taken to do so. In my view, inaction is not an option.”


What they’re saying about Keystone XL

Here’s a sampling of reactions to the Obama administration’s decision not to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline:

From House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield:

“The Obama Administration just made the wrong decision for our country and for the American people. But what is more troubling than the President’s opposition to the Keystone pipeline is his preference to slow walk tough decisions to death. The President’s approach to this process and his ultimate decision reveals a lack of leadership when facing tough issues. His continued political posturing when met with ideas he doesn’t agree reveals a lack of critical thinking and a mindless attachment to ideology above the common good.”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“This morning, the President agreed with the recommendation of Secretary Kerry to deny the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, ending a long debate in our country.

“After weighing the equities, it was decided that the pipeline would have offered too little benefit and caused far too much damage to our climate and our country. Three issues that were debated in Congress that argued against the pipeline were the lack of assurances that the oil would stay in America, the failure to close the loophole that allowed Keystone’s tar sands not to pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, and the absence of a requirement that this pipeline be built with American-sourced steel.

“Now, we must work together to achieve real energy independence and create good-paying jobs building energy and transportation infrastructure worthy of the 21st century. It is time for all of us to set aside our differences and make the robust, long-term investments in the modern roads, rails, bridges, broadband, and water systems that our country needs.”

“We must engage the public as we work in furtherance of policies that reduce the price at the pump for the consumer, truly create jobs in our country and address the challenges presented by the climate crisis.”

From Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla:

“President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline is a huge mistake, and is the latest reminder that this administration continues to prioritize the demands of radical environmentalists over America’s energy security. When I’m president, Keystone will be approved, and President Obama’s backward energy policies will come to an end.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif:

“I want to thank the Obama Administration for protecting the health of the American people and the health of the planet by rejecting the ill-advised Keystone tar sands pipeline, which would have brought the filthiest oil known to humankind into our country in large amounts.”

Read more, after the jump…
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