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Indian tribe boosts Don Perata’s legal fund

…and other post-election political money tidbits.

perata.jpgState Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, this week reported that the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians donated $25,000 to the legal defense fund he set up in response to a federal corruption probe launched against him in 2004. Not a moment too soon; as of May 17, the once-vigorous fund was down to $273. The East Bay Express’s Robert Gammon reported in December that federal prosecutors were snooping around for reporters’ notes, and the Chronicle’s Matier & Ross reported in April that prosecutors were asking for more time in which to wrap up the case.

hancock.jpgLest you ever wonder how important a party endorsement is in a primary, consider that from May 7 through this past Tuesday’s election, the California Democratic Party put almost $153,000 into helping Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley — whom the party endorsed at its convention in March — defeat former Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan of Alameda in the primary to Perata in the 9th State Senate District. Hancock defeated Chan by 12 percentage points Tuesday.

worthington.jpgBerkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington put a final $20,000 into his own campaign for the 14th Assembly District on May 29, just a few days before the election; that’s on top of $7,200 he’d contributed to his campaign and $22,000 he’d loaned it earlier. He finished a distant third Tuesday, behind winner Nancy Skinner and second-place finisher Tony Thurmond. Skinner had contributed $3,600 to her own campaign and loaned it about $30,700.

denham.JPGThe Perata-organized (and later, Perata-abandoned) effort to recall state Sen. Jeff Denham soaked up $550,000 from the California State Council of Service Employees; more than $488,000 from the Democratic State Central Committee of California; $300,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and $110,000 from the Perata-controlled Leadership California committee (see it all here) before going down in flames Tuesday with just 24 percent of the vote. About $1.06 million of that went to Palisades Media Group for television and radio ad buys; the next biggest expenditures were about $78,000 to the firm of Sacramento political consultant and longtime Perata associate Sandi Polka (as well as $9,000 to Chris Lehman and more than $7,300 to Paul Hefner, both Polka associates); about $87,500 to Emeryville-based Pacific Print Resources, which produces campaign mailers; about $36,600 to CBS Outdoor, presumably for billboards; and about $26,600 to the firm of Shawnda Westly, another Sacramento campaign consultant.

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2008
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Democratic Party, Don Perata, Elections, Jeff Denham, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | 1 Comment »

Political Haiku, Vol. 2

Perata can’t pick
between successors, backs both.
Vote Lonma Chancock!

DNC decides
to seat delegates in half.
Clinton’s goose is cooked.

Still McNerney waits,
his superdelegate vote
so soon safely moot.

Schwarzenegger comes
to Oakland to flog budget.
Dellums begs for cops.

Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Senate, Don Perata, Elections, haiku, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney, Loni Hancock, Oakland, Ron Dellums, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

The Perata-Chan-Hancock endorsement follies

Here’s one of the latest mailers sent out by former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, D-Alameda, who’s running against current Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, in the Democratic primary for the 9th State Senate District seat from which state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, is term-limited out later this year (click to enlarge):

chan-perata-mailer-1.jpg

chan-perata-mailer-2.jpg

A ringing endorsement at the eleventh hour? Or a re-dual-endorsement?

Perata just a few weeks ago sent Hancock a letter praising her as “far and away the best person for the job.” Perata’s political consultant confirmed that letter’s authenticity.

So, Perata on Chan: “That’s why I support Wilma Chan… I hope you’ll give her your vote…”

And, Perata on Hancock: “(F)ar and away the best person for the job.”

Which is it? Too bad Perata can’t seem to make a choice. I’ve been writing about this for weeks, and it makes no sense to me. So, go make your own choice: Compare Chan’s and Hancock’s records and policy stances, and base your vote on that, not on slick mailers bearing endorsements that really don’t amount to much of anything at all.

Posted on Sunday, June 1st, 2008
Under: California State Senate, Don Perata, Elections, General, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

One editorial, four endorsements?

9th State Senate District candidate Wilma Chan put out a mailer recently touting her endorsement by the Oakland Tribune, the Contra Costa Times, the Tri-Valley Herald and the Alameda Times-Star:

chan-mailer.jpg

But in case you were wondering, yes, all those newspapers are owned by the same chain. And yes, all four of those quotations came from a single editorial.

Posted on Saturday, May 24th, 2008
Under: California State Senate, Elections, General, Wilma Chan | 1 Comment »

Dual-endorsed, un-endorsed, re-endorsed

Remember last week’s item about how state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and two other people seemed to be “unendorsing” former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, withdrawing their previous dual endorsements and throwing their support only to Assemblywoman Loni Hancock in the 9th State Senate District‘s Democratic primary race?

Apparently one of those three has now re-dual-endorsed Chan. Chan’s campaign today forwarded me an email sent to Chan last Wednesday, May 14 (two days after my blog item) by Oakland Unified School District Board of Education member Alice Spearman of Oakland:

spearman.jpgToday was the first time I had a chance this week to review the letter I gave to Loni. The letter scanned and sent to me was a revised copy, which I did not entirely read after bring told there was a typo. Therefore I am giving a dual endorsement in this race. I did not remember giving you a verbal endorsement this past summer, but there was a good chance so early in the race that I did and I am a woman of my word. I would/will not enter into any legal action because of this mix up. Please accept my apology.

Spearman’s earlier, May 8 letter to Chan had said:

I am writing you to make it very clear that I have not, and will not, endorse you in the State Senate District 9 race. I have given my sole endorsement to Loni Hancock. I am asking you to immediately stop using my name as an endorser and remove my name from all of your campaign materials. Any failure to abide by my request will force me to take immediate legal action. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

See? Clear as a bell.

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Under: California State Senate, Don Perata, Elections, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

Lytton Indians strike back at Loni Hancock

(A hearty hat-tip to Oakland environmental and land-use attorney Stuart Flashman, who noticed this and posted a comment about it elsewhere on this blog.)

hancock.jpgDemocratic voters in the 9th State Senate District recently received a mailer — see it here, pages 1, 2, 3 and 4 — accusing Assemblywoman Loni Hancock — who’s opposed by former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan in the June 3 state Senate primary — of having lowered educational standards, supposedly making it harder for children to reach their chosen career. The mailer was paid for not by Chan’s campaign but rather by Education Leaders for High Standards, an independent expenditure committee.

Check the Secretary of State’s office and you find Education Leaders for High Standards was created May 14 and has no visible support from anyone in the education community, be it teachers, administrators, parents or what have you. Rather, the committee’s entire $49,000 bankroll — of which it spent $47,900 on this mailer — came from one source: the California Tribal Business Alliance independent expenditure PAC.

That PAC, in turn, has received $75,000 each from the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians (Tehama County’s Rolling Hills Casino); the United Auburn Indian Community (the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln); the Pala Band of Mission Indians (San Diego County’s Pala Casino); the Pauma Band of Mission Indians (San Diego County’s Casino Pauma); and the Viejas Tribal Government (San Diego County’s Viejas Casino).

AND… wait for it… $164,000 from the Lytton Rancheria of California in San Pablo.

The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, you’ll recall, operates the San Pablo Lytton Casino (formerly known as the Casino San Pablo card room), which sits both in Hancock’s current Assembly district as well as the state Senate district she aspires to represent. Hancock has been an outspoken opponent of the Lytton Band’s plan to vastly expand and outfit the casino with house-banked, Nevada-style slot machines; public criticism and opposition from state and federal lawmakers eventually convinced the tribe to abandon the plan.

But it seems Hancock and the Lytton Band still haven’t kissed and made up. Expect some unkind words in return when Hancock, backed by local elected officials and anti-casino community activists, holds a news conference about this at noon tomorrow at Oakland City Hall.

Posted on Monday, May 19th, 2008
Under: Assembly, General, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

Don Perata un-endorses Wilma Chan?

chan.jpgSome names have disappeared from the endorsement list on the Web site of Wilma Chan, the former Assemblywoman facing off against current Assemblywoman Loni Hancock in the June 3 Democratic primary to succeed state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata — names including Perata himself.

Compare the old, cached version to the current version.

perata.jpgPerata earlier had granted a dual endorsement to both Chan and Hancock in this 9th State Senate District race, both of whom generally have been his allies in the Legislature. Perata had been singing Chan’s praises for years, including right after she helped him nail down a judicial ruling cementing his right to seek a final four-year term in 2004.

But now Perata’s name and face are gone from Chan’s endorsement list, and I’ve got a copy of a letter Perata sent to Hancock last week praising her as “far and away the best person for the job.” Perata’s political consultant returned my e-mail message this afternoon confirming the letter’s authenticity, but wrote that he couldn’t break out of a meeting to discuss with me who Perata actually now endorses.

spearman.jpgAlso gone from Chan’s endorsement list is Alameda Mayor Beverly Johnson — a notable name, given Chan’s base of support in the island city she calls home — and Oakland School Board member Alice Spearman. There’s not much ambiguity about why they’re gone from the list; both Johnson and Spearman apparently sent letters to Chan last Thursday expressing their support for Hancock and demanding that Chan remove their names from all Chan campaign materials immediately. “Any failure to abide by my request will force me to take immediate legal action,” Spearman wrote. Ouch.

johnson.jpgSpearman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, but Johnson told me tonight she had endorsed Chan “a couple of years ago” yet recently decided Hancock’s the better choice; she said she sent the letter to Chan on Thursday and talked with her Friday, and that all was amicable as Chan assured her that her name would be removed from the campaign’s Web site and literature.

Two Chan campaign staffers haven’t yet returned phone calls and e-mails about this; watch for updates if and when they do.

UPDATE @ 4:40 P.M. WEDNESDAY: I talked with Wilma Chan today about another story; she said she didn’t want to comment specifically on this, but has “found the endorsement process to be very transactional… I think the most important part is bringing your message to the voters and letting them choose between two candidates.”

UPDATE @ 3:22 P.M. THURSDAY MAY 22: Re-dual-endorsed!

Posted on Monday, May 12th, 2008
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Don Perata, Elections, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

Campaigns around the Bay this weekend

  • Bay Area supporters of Barack Obama will decsend upon Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza at noon tomorrow, Saturday, April 19, as part of a Nation for Change Nationwide Rally in advance of next Tuesday’s crucial Pennsylvania primary election. Among those scheduled to speak in Oakland are Change Congress founder Lawrence Lessig; Oakland City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel; Richmond City Councilman Tony Thurmond; prominent Obama fundraiser and volunteer Tony West; and the Rev. Elouise Oliver of the East Bay Church of Religious Science in Oakland.
  • Local supporters of Hillary Clinton will gather from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at an Oakland home for a “last big weekend push into Pennsylvania” via phone-banking (BYO cell phone). E-mail hillary4prez@att.net for location and other details.
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is kicking off his re-election campaign in earnest Saturday with door-to-door canvassing in Dublin, Stockton, Tracy and Morgan Hill; volunteers are asked to RSVP though his campaign Web site. He’s unopposed in June’s primary, and faces Stockton Republican Dean Andal in November.
  • State Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, kicks off her re-election campaign (she’s being challenged by Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, in the June 3 primary) at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, joined by state Senate President Pro Tem Elect Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and former state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, at her campaign headquarters, 121 9th St. (between Mission and Howard) in San Francisco. After bagels and coffee, they’ll hit the streets and the phones all morning…
  • 9th State Senate District candidate and former Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan is holding a fundraiser at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, April 20, at a Los Gatos home; see her campaign Web site for more details. Her rival in June’s Democratic primary is Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley.
  • Posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Carole Migden, Darrell Steinberg, Dean Andal, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton, Jerry McNerney, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | No Comments »

    Chan accuses Hancock of campaign money no-no

    No sooner do I blog about the Loni Hancock versus Wilma Chan race for Don Perata‘s 9th State Senate District seat than the fireworks start up in earnest: Chan today asked the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate whether Hancock and her campaign violated rules by paying a Senate campaign staffer out of her 14th Assembly District Officeholder Account.

    According to Chan’s news release, public campaign filings show Hancock has paid Terri Waller — listed in FPPC reports as a campaign consultant — $15,000 or more from the Officeholder Account since June 2007. FPPC regulations say officeholders can’t use officeholder funds to pay campaign expenses, Chan notes, and Waller has been introduced as Hancock’s campaign manager at one or more Senate campaign forums and is listed as the campaign contact on at least one candidate questionnaire. Read Chan’s full complaint here. [And scroll down through the updates for an expert's review.]

    “A year ago, Loni Hancock was touting the virtues of campaign finance reform on her blog,” Chan spokesman David Chilenski said in the release. “Today, it looks like she could be misusing campaign funds and may be circumventing the rules for her Senate campaign. It’s ironic to see her champion clean money reform in her speeches and then turn around and act in a way that seems contradict these values.”

    Waller is listed on Hancock’s office Web site as Hancock’s district coordinator, and a Web search shows she has served in that capacity for years. Campaign-finance printouts attached to Chan’s complaint show Waller was paid from the officeholder account for various office expenses, but also several times under the notation “campaign consultants.”

    I couldn’t immediately reach Hancock’s campaign spokespeople, but I’ll keep trying…

    UPDATE @ 9:35 P.M. MONDAY: And the word from Hancock campaign spokesman Cliff Staton is “bogus.”

    “Terri Waller has been the Campaign Manager for the Hancock campaign since the beginning of March. The last period for which she was paid from the Officeholder Account ended in February. The East Bay Young Dems meeting was on March 6. The Nate Miley endorsement interview was on March 22,” Staton says. “This is another desperate attempt by the Chan campaign to distract attention from their big loss at the Democratic Convention over the weekend.”

    In fairness, Staton got back to me quickly; this update has been delayed because I was out of pocket for a few hours.

    UPDATE @ 10:15 A.M. TUESDAY: I just got off the phone with Staton, who explained that several “campaign consultant” payments made to Waller before she became Hancock’s Senate campaign manager were for various political but non-campaign functions she served while in Hancock’s employ.

    “It’s simply the way that they list it on the officeholder account,” he said. “It’s not campaigning… It’s not about running for election, it’s simply that as a politician you’re in a political environment and there are things you have to do.”

    So if Waller went to a purely political event on Hancock’s behalf – maybe a labor council dinner, for example – Hancock would pay her out of the officeholder account rather than from state funds, Staton said. “Loni has always determined those kinds of things are not part of the state, the taxpayers should not pay that.”

    “They were on a fishing expedition,” he said of Chan’s complaint. “There’s absolutely no substance to that.”

    Staton is angry that I posted this last night before he could get back to me with his comments; he said I’ve given Chan’s campaign fodder for a direct-mail hit piece. I responded that when a former lawmaker and current candidate files an official complaint with a state agency – a matter of public record, not just a verbal accusation – I think it’s newsworthy.

    And if it turns out to be bogus, a cheap campaign tactic as Staton says, that’s newsworthy too.

    Just so the process is clear: I received the release and complaint from Chan’s campaign at 5:47 p.m. I left voice-mails for Staton at his office and home, and e-mailed him at his office; I left a voice-mail and an e-mail for one of his associates; and I left a voice-mail for a Hancock campaign worker whose cell number I obtained from the campaign office. I had to be away from my phone and computer for a while, and updated the blog item as soon as I returned.

    Staton also asked me to pull this item off the blog at least until I’ve “had a chance to evaluate its validity.” As I told him, it’s up to the FPPC to evaluate the complaint’s validity.

    UPDATE @ 1:40 P.M. TUESDAY: One of the state’s top authorities on campaign finance, law and ethics has just told me that if there’s any violation at all here, it’s “trivial.”

    “This is the first time I’ve ever seen a complaint like this — I’ve never seen them complain about officeholder funds versus campaign funds,” said Center for Governmental Studies President Bob Stern, who authored the Political Reform Act of 1974 and was the FPPC’s first general counsel from 1974 to 1983. “It just seems like overkill, even if it were true.”

    By state law, candidates who voluntarily choose to limit their spending in state Senate campaigns may spend no more than $724,000 in a primary election and $1,086,000 in a general election. Stern said Chan’s complaint would only have any consequence if Hancock accepted these limits (which she has, while Chan has not) but then used the payments at issue to dodge the limits. Judging from her campaign finance reports, it doesn’t look as if she’s anywhere near those limits.

    Even then, Stern said, it would depend on whether Waller clearly represented herself before March 1 — at events for which she was reimbursed from the officeholder account — as representing Hancock as a Senate candidate rather than as an Assemblywoman. And even then, he said, “it’s more of a bookkeeping thing.”

    “They have met the standards of saying there might be a violation, but it certainly doesn’t seem like a very earthshaking one even if the facts are true,” Stern said.

    UPDATE @ 3:55 P.M. THURSDAY: Chan’s campaign filed an addendum to its complaint today with the FPPC.

    Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2008
    Under: California State Senate, Don Perata, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | 3 Comments »

    The advantage of incumbency?

    hancock.jpgAssemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, reportedly has received the California Democratic Party’s endorsement to succeed state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, in the 9th State Senate District.

    “As a lifelong Democrat, I am proud to have the sole endorsement of my party,” Hancock said in her own news release. “We have worked hard on the issues that face our state — combating global warming, fixing our health care system, and improving our schools. I look forward to continuing that work in the State Senate.”

    The release said Hancock got with 90% of the vote from Democrats based in her region, needing only 60 percent to win the endorsement. That’s gotta hurt for Hancock’s opponent, former Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan, D-Alameda.

    chan.jpgChan, term-limited out in 2006, just hasn’t had the kind of public face-time that Hancock — finishing her final Assembly term this year — has had by remaining in office. And note Hancock’s quote, regarding the “sole endorsement;” Perata had endorsed them both, which essentially negated any possible benefit.

    But don’t count Chan out. As of March 17, the end of the last reporting period, Chan’s campaign had $507,283 in the bank compared to Hancock’s $406,108, although a glance at filings since then shows Hancock may have stepped it up in the last two weeks, collecting $34,200 to Chan’s $9,700. Lotsa money on both sides; watch your mailboxes for what’s sure to be a direct-mail deluge.

    Posted on Monday, March 31st, 2008
    Under: California State Senate, Don Perata, Loni Hancock, Wilma Chan | No Comments »