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!


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.
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    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.


    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.


    The 9th Senate District race is on

    With Tuesday’s defeat of Proposition 93, the term-limits reform measure, state Senate President Don Perata, D-Oakland, will be termed out of office this year, and so the campaigns of those seeking to replace him are firing up on all cylinders.

    hancock.jpgAs Steve Harmon noted in his story today, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, will face off in June’s Democratic primary election against former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, D-Oakland; the winner will almost certainly take the seat in November, as the district’s overwhelmingly Democratic registration makes a Republican victory almost unthinkable.

    I’ve just now received a news release from Loni Hancock’s campaign — which like Chan’s has largely dormant until they knew whether Perata would be viable for another term — noting that she raised $500,506 in contributions last year. “I am thankful for this show of support from across the district,” she says in the release. “Together we can face the challenges of our generation — quality and accessible health care, a clean environment, and a first rate school system.”

    chan.jpgBut a glance at the Secretary of State’s database shows Chan raised $164,834 last year, leaving her with $526,641.16 cash on hand at 2007’s end. Hancock finished the year with less — $343,906.73 — having already spent four times as much as Chan.

    Keep watching those accounts; I’m betting money’s going to start pouring into one or both of them now that Perata is surely termed out.

    perata.jpgBut don’t cry for him, Argentina — he has $164,002.28 stashed away in his “Taxpayers for Perata” committee, ostensibly so he can run for the Board of Equalization in 2010. Yeah, right — that committee spent $189,987.95 in 2007, almost half of which went to Perata’s legal defense fund for an ongoing federal anti-corruption probe, and the rest to maintaining his current political activities.

    Board of Equalization, my heiny. But surely he intends to run for something in coming years. Maybe… Mayor of Oakland? Or, perhaps depending on how deftly he handles the state budget crisis this summer, one of the statewide constitutional offices?


    Legislative campaigns heating up in Berkeley

    hancock.jpgThe Sierra Club today announced its endorsement of Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, in her bid to succeed state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, in representing the 9th State Senate District.

    “Turning around global warming, protecting open space, and investing in Clean and Green Technology will ensure that our children and grandchildren have a better future,” Hancock said in her news release. “I am proud to have the Sierra Club’s endorsement and will continue to work with them to protect our environment.”

    Among Hancock’s other endorsements are Congressmembers George Miller and Ellen Tauscher, Oakland Assemblymember Sandre Swanson, the California Legislative Black Caucus, and the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council. But remember, Hancock’s candidacy might be cut short if Proposition 93, the term-limits reform measure on the Feb. 5 primary ballot, passes and enables Perata to run for another term. Former Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, D-Oakland, is in the race too; see her full endorsement list here. Perata has endorsed them both, and both have said they’ll drop out of the race if Proposition 93 passes.

    worthington.jpgMeanwhile, Berkeley City Councilman Kriss Worthington officially kicks off his campaign for Hancock’s 14th Assembly District seat today; he’ll be joined by supporters, elected officials and volunteers from 5 to 7 p.m. at Le Bateau Ivre Restaurant in Berkeley. Worthington issued a release saying he’s excited to start campaigning and is looking forward to the challenge of getting elected to higher office and fighting for universal health care, tackling global warming, and enacting public financing of election campaigns.

    “Most of my life has been about taking on big challenges, and overcoming them,” Worthington says. “I spent the first 11 years of my life as a foster child, bouncing around between various foster homes. I also spent time on the streets as a homeless youth. These challenging early life experiences gave me the compassion I have today for those who are less fortunate, left out, and have no one to speak up for them.”