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‘Draft Biden 2016′ to accept bitcoin

In apparent nod to the hot tech buzz of 2013, the Draft Biden 2016 committee announced Friday that it’s the first national Democratic movement to accept the bitcoinvirtual currency, effective immediately.

“This is in keeping with Vice President Biden’s strong support of technology and innovation throughout his career,’’ Joseph Schweitzer, the group’s finance director, said in a news release. “Ready your mobile wallet and you’ll be able to simply scan-and-donate. There’s no hassle with a card number, no delay, and unparalleled cryptographic security.’’

The Federal Elections Commission last year approved bitcoin fundraising as a type of in-kind donation. But “due to lingering questions in the wake of the FEC ruling, Draft Biden 2016 will limit bitcoin donations to $100 per person and require donors to fill out an online form identifying themselves,” the news release said.

The Draft Biden 2016 super PAC was formed in mid-March, and had about $6,500 banked at the end of that month, its FEC report shows.

Posted on Friday, June 12th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Joe Biden | No Comments »

Lawmakers demand answers in Refugio oil spill

California’s U.S. Senators joined with other lawmakers in demanding answers Friday from a pipeline company connected to the state’s worst oil spill in a quarter-century.

Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, along with Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass. – a leader on environmental issues who formerly was the House Natural Resources Committee’s top Democrat – and Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, wrote Friday to Plains All American Pipeline Chairman and CEO Greg Armstrong about last month’s spill of more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil near Refugio State Beach near Santa Barbara.

News outlets have reported Plains has one of the worst safety records of any pipeline company, with 175 safety and maintenance violations since 2006 that have resulted in more than 16,000 barrels of oil spilled and more than $23 million worth of property damage.

The lawmakers called for immediate answers after federal regulators found this week that the company’s pipeline was heavily corroded. Although a May 5 inspection report ordered by Plains Pipeline showed corrosion metal loss of 45 percent in the area of the rupture, third party investigators found 82 percent of the pipe’s thickness actually had worn away.

“We are deeply concerned about the recent findings from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that revealed that the pipeline that ruptured showed signs of extensive corrosion,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are also concerned about inconsistencies in the inspection reports about this pipeline, which raise questions about the safety of other pipelines that you operate.”

New reports also indicate that Plains Pipeline initially stopped pumping after the anomalies were first detected, but then resumed pumping about 20 minutes later. “Any delay in detecting or reporting this spill or shutting down the pipeline could have exacerbated the extent of the damage to the environment,” they wrote.

They want answers by the close of business on June 19.

“Plains has received the letter from Senators Boxer, Feinstein and Markey and Congresswoman Capps and will respond timely,” company spokesman Brad Leon said later Friday. “Plains shares the desire to diligently examine the recent incident to help inform regulators and the industry regarding the cause of the incident. Plains is cooperating with the investigation led by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and looks forward to being a fully engaged partner in that process.”

Read the full letter, after the jump…
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Posted on Friday, June 5th, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Environment, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Obama honors San Francisco Giants at White House

Sure, everyone’s in a tizzy about Thursday night’s NBA Finals Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, but another Bay Area champion team was lauded in our nation’s capital earlier in the day.

President Barack Obama hosted and honored the World Champion San Francisco Giants at the White House on Thursday.

Read the president’s remarks, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, June 4th, 2015
Under: Barack Obama, Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Barbara Lee bets on Golden State Warriors win

Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Marcia Fudge have laid a friendly bet over the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If (ed. note: WHEN) the Warriors win, Fudge, D-Ohio, will send Lee chocolates, peanuts and pastries made in the heart of Cleveland. If (ed. note: impossibly) the Cavaliers win, Lee, D-Oakland, will supply Fudge with Clif bars, Ghirardelli chocolates, Peet’s coffee and an autographed photo of Stephen Curry, all in an Oaklandish tote bag.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“The Cleveland Cavaliers are a good team but the Warriors will win this, hands down,” Lee said in her news release. “With the strong support of the East Bay and leadership of MVP Stephen Curry, I am confident of a Warrior’s win! While I am proud to put some of the East Bay’s finest products on the line for this friendly wager, I look forward to enjoying the sweetness of a hometown victory along with Cleveland treats from my friend, Congresswoman Fudge.”

Fudge replied the Warriors “are a strong team, but it’s time to end our city’s 50-year championship drought. The Cavaliers will be victorious. Led by Akron’s own LeBron James, the Cavaliers have been relentless in their pursuit of victory. All of Northeast Ohio is ‘all in’ and proud of their determination to bring the championship home. While confident in our victory, I proudly wager chocolates from Malley’s, peanuts from Peterson’s and pastries from Davis Bakery. These delectable foods are the best in the nation, just like our home team.”

UPDATE @ 2:48 P.M.: U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have laid similar wagers with their Ohio counterparts.

Boxer put up Peet’s “Warriors Grounds” coffee and a case of Linden Street Brewery’s “New Oakland Glow” pilsner against beer that U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, will provide from Akron’s Hoppin’ Frog Brewery. The loser will deliver the bounty to the winner’s office while wearing a jersey from the victor’s team.

“The Golden State Warriors have been the best team in basketball all season long because of their selfless style of play and some of the best shooting that the NBA has ever seen,” Boxer said. “LeBron James is a huge talent, but he’s no match for Stephen and Riley Curry!”

And Feinstein bet some California Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon against some of Cleveland’s Great Lakes beer on offer by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

“As mayor of San Francisco, I wagered with my fellow mayors on the Super Bowl and my 49ers came out on top four times. As senator, I bet on the World Series with my colleagues, and my Giants have been victorious three times in the last five years,” Feinstein said. “Now, I’m looking forward to yet another streak as the Golden State Warriors play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. … With Klay Thompson’s shooting and Andrew Bogut’s defense, not to mention Steph Curry’s MVP talent, this squad is set to bring another trophy to the Bay Area.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 5 Comments »

Hillary Clinton back in Bay Area on June 20

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be back in the Bay Area to raise campaign money in a few weeks, just a little more than a month since her last sweep through the region.

Hillary Clinton 5-27-2015 (AP photo)Clinton will attend a brunch reception on Saturday, June 20 in San Francisco’s Mission District, hosted by real estate broker, former planning commissioner, and attorney Rick Hills. Tickets start at $2,700 per person; co-hosts who raise $27,000 or more and hosts who raise $50,000 or more will be invited to a pre-reception and photo line with Clinton.

An email sent Monday to announce the event noted that Clinton’s campaign recently unveiled a finance committee structure in which someone who raises $27,000 in 30 days will be a “Hillstarter” with a seat on the Northern California finance committee; someone who raises $50,000 by Dec. 31 will be a “Hillraiser” with a seat on the Northwest regional finance committee; and someone who raises $100,000 by Dec. 31 will be a “Hillblazer” with a seat on the national finance committee.

“We hope you will use this opportunity to help reach your goals and take part in the wonderful benefits (soon to be revealed) associated with each committee,” the email said.

The former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady held two fundraisers in San Francisco on Wednesday, May 6, one hosted by hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer and the other by longtime friend and support Susie Tompkins Buell, cofounder of Esprit and the North Face. She held three fundraisers on May 7 in Los Angeles before returning to the Bay Area on Friday, May 8 for a luncheon at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Clinton declared her candidacy April 12 and has been busily visiting early-primary states since, but her campaign announced Monday that she’ll give her “official campaign launch speech” on Saturday, June 13 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The event is open to the public, and members of the public can register for tickets online. She has yet to hold any public campaign events in California.

Posted on Monday, June 1st, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 9 Comments »

Club for Growth founder joins Del Beccaro team

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tom Del Beccaro has added renowned conservative economist Stephen Moore, co-founder and first president of the Club for Growth, as an economic advisor to his campaign.

Steve MooreMoore’s addition helps Del Beccaro burnish his conservative bona fides, at least economically speaking – a clear effort to distinguish himself from the other Republican in the race, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, who’s seen as relatively moderate.

“I am honored and excited to have Steve join my team,” Del Beccaro, a former California Republican Party chairman from Lafayette, said in a news release. “He has fought for strong, sensible economic policies for years. Steve is a leading voice for the pro-growth policies that this country and California sorely need.”

Moore, in the same release, said Del Beccaro “has great economic ideas, especially in the area of taxes. He is a thoughtful proponent of the flat tax, which would create one low, flat income tax rate for everyone, regardless of income.

“This simplified, lower tax system would not only decrease the size and power of the IRS, but will also provide a much needed boost to the economy, create jobs and reduce poverty over time,” Moore said.

Moore, 55, was a budgetary affairs fellow at the Heritage Foundation from 1983 to 1987 before serving for a year as research director of President Ronald Reagan’s Privatization Commission and then starting a 10-year stint as a fellow of the libertarian Cato Institute. He also worked as senior economist of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee under Rep. Dick Armey, R-Texas.

He co-founded the Club for Growth to support conservative congressional candidates – often mounting primary campaigns against more centrist Republicans – in 1999 and served as its president until 2004, when he was ousted by its board. He then founded the similar Free Enterprise Fund, but left in 2005 to serve on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board. He was a partner in Arduin, Laffer & Moore Econometrics, but then rejoined the Heritage Foundation at the start of 2014.
http://www.arduinlaffermoore.com/

A Field Poll released Wednesday found 58 percent of likely voters are undecided about who they’ll back in next year’s Senate race. California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, had 19 percent support; Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, had 8 percent; Chavez had 6 percent; and Del Beccaro had 5 percent.

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
Under: U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Sanchez is NOT declaring Senate candidacy. Yet.

The Sacramento Bee, Politico and other outlets reported Tuesday afternoon that Rep. Loretta Sanchez had sent an email to supporters saying she would announce her 2016 U.S. Senate candidacy Thursday morning in Santa Ana.

Loretta SanchezBut a short while later, the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Finnegan tweeted that Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, had told him that a draft announcement had been released mistakenly. “I have actually not made a decision,” he quoted her as saying. “That is the truth.”

And a short while after that, the Bee reported that a Sanchez campaign consultant had confirmed the email was sent out in error. I left a message with Sanchez’s office a few hours ago, but it wasn’t returned.

Sanchez has been busy in recent months meeting with Latino Democrats up and down the state, many of whom have been concerned that Attorney General Kamala Harris – the only prominent Democrat in this race so far – seems headed for a coronation that keeps their growing bloc out of the loop. And the timing seemed right, as Sanchez, Harris and Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles – who also is contemplating a Senate run – all are scheduled to address the Chicano Latino Caucus at the California Democratic Party convention this Saturday in Anaheim.

But this “She has decided! No she hasn’t!” fiasco isn’t a good omen for Sanchez, said Larry Sabato, who directs the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

“When a horse stumbles out of the gate, it almost never wins,” he said. “It’s highly embarrassing and it’s a terrible start to what will be an uphill challenge anyway.”

Sabato acknowledged this must be “a tough decision for her because she’s giving up a safe seat in the House for a chancy run at the Senate. She certainly will not be the frontrunner; Harris has lined up a remarkable team and war chest.”

It’s rare for a single candidate like Harris to essentially clear the field for an open seat in so big a state, but given Democrats’ strong advantage, this race “is over before it starts if there isn’t a strong second Democrat in the runoff,” Sabato said.

Sanchez and Becerra would be wooing many of the same Latino and Southern California audiences, he added. “I would be stunned if both of them ran, I would be a little surprised if neither of them ran.”

UPDATE @ 3:38 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Aaaaand now Sanchez IS indeed making “a significant political announcement” at 11 a.m. Thursday in Santa Ana. Full story here.

Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
Under: U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 1 Comment »

Boxer, DiFi oppose fast-track trade authority

Senate Democrats derailed one of President Obama’s major second-term priorities Tuesday, voting to hold up consideration of “fast track” trade authority unless related measures are guaranteed to proceed alongside it, the Washington Post reports.

Sixty votes were needed to begin formal debate of measures that would pave the way for approval of a complex Pacific trade accord and provide relief to unemployed workers affected by trade deals. The vote was 52-45, with U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., the only Democrat voting aye.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had said last week she would vote for trade promotion authority only if it was accompanied by other bills providing income support and retraining funds for workers displaced by international trade; more power to enforce trade agreements and punish violations; and a trade-preferences package for developing nations in Africa.

“Whether or not Congress should grant the president fast-track trade authority is important, but I believe the debate shouldn’t occur in isolation from these related issues,” she said at the time. “If this larger package of bills comes before the Senate, I look forward to its consideration.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., spoke against fast-track authority before Tuesday’s vote.

Barbara Boxer“The last major deal Congress approved cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs, lowered the wages of American workers, and increased income inequality. And we are still dealing with the legacy of NAFTA,” she said, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement that took effect in 1994. (Boxer and Feinstein both voted against NAFTA in late 1993, too.)

“They say timing is everything in life. Well, if that’s true, the timing of this free-trade agreement could not be worse for the middle-class families who we are supposed to be fighting for,” Boxer said. “We should immediately put this legislation aside and take up legislation that will help the middle class.”

But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, issued a statement after the Senate vote saying “free and open trade means a stronger America with more jobs and opportunity.

“This is something that both Republicans and Democrats support, including the President,” McCarthy said. “History has shown that in times of divided government, positive changes can be made on behalf of the American people. Unfortunately, it is the President’s own party stopping progress. The decision by Senate Democrats to block this bipartisan bill from moving forward is disappointing and a step backwards for our already beleaguered economic recovery. The House will continue to work towards passage of free and open trade.”

Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Kevin McCarthy, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

Rep. Adam Schiff won’t run for U.S. Senate

One of several Southern California House members who had been considering a run for the U.S. Senate next year has bowed out.

Adam Schiff“After giving it much thought, I have decided that I will not run for the open Senate seat next year,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said in a statement issued Tuesday morning.” I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve as the Ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and feel I can continue to make a significant contribution to the nation’s security in that position.

“I want to thank my friends and supporters for all of their encouragement and advice, and my family for their support, and I look forward to other challenges in the future,” he said.

Reps. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, and Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, are believed to be still considering it. The only prominent Democrat to declare candidacy so far is California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

On the Republican side, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, and former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro have declared their candidacies, while former GOP chairman Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills continues to explore the possibility.

Posted on Tuesday, May 12th, 2015
Under: Kamala Harris, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

A peek at Hillary Clinton’s Silicon Valley fundraiser

2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reportedly wowed about 200 supporters who paid $2,700 each to see her Friday in Silicon Valley.

Clinton, who did two similar fundraisers Wednesday in San Francisco and three Thursday in Los Angeles, attended a luncheon Friday at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Reporters weren’t allowed in, but a tech executive who attended said Clinton seemed “shockingly well-prepared… she gave answers to questions that one would expect to see near the end of a campaign, not right at the beginning.”

Of course, keep in mind that everyone in the room had paid to be there and so is a strong supporter already. “But I’ve been around the block on these things,” this person insisted. “I don’t get impressed by politicians too often – especially early in campaigns – but I’m impressed.”

Clinton’s stump speech covered a wide range of foreign- and domestic-policy topics, the latter including student debt and pre-kindergarten education, the exec said, and then she took questions.

“My personal favorite was a high school girl asked at the end about teenage suicides … and she (Clinton) went off on this 10-minute answer that would blow you away,” the executive said, providing facts and figures off the top of her head about suicide-prevention strategies that have been effective elsewhere.

The issue is particularly resonant in Silicon Valley, where Palo Alto has struggled with a rash of teen suicides over the past decade – including one in January.

“Then she stayed and shook the hands of every single person there – that was not part of the program,” the executive said.

Posted on Friday, May 8th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments »