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Today’s congressional odds and ends

HONDA’S INTERNATIONAL COALITION: Rep. Mike Honda joined five other lawmakers from around the world Monday in launching an International Parliamentary Coalition for Victims of Sexual Slavery.

Honda’s office said the coalition’s purpose will be to promote international cooperation in raising awareness about modern-day slavery and human-rights violations committed to force residents in conflicts zones and places struck by natural disasters into sexual slavery.

honda.jpg“Victims of sexual slavery are not collateral damage,” Honda, D-San Jose, said in a news release. “Sexual slavery, whether in times of conflict or natural disasters, is not a cultural phenomenon. It is violence against women. And this must change. We must hold everyone accountable. Eliminating violence against women is going to require a major change in our humanity. We can start by not treating this as an afterthought or a sidebar issue. Ending violence against women must be front and center.”

Besides Honda, the coalition’s founding co-chairs are Canadian Senator Yonah Martin; New Zealand Member of Parliament Melissa Lee; South Korean Representative Jasmine Lee; British Member of Parliament Fiona Bruce; and Canadian Advisory Council Chairwoman Joy Smith.

Honda earlier this year introduced HR 500, to establish an advisory council led by survivors of human trafficking to advise lawmakers on policies and initiatives. It became part of S.178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, which President Obama signed into law in May.

FIGHTING FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA: Three California House members want the Justice Department to stop prosecuting California medical marijuana dispensaries that are following tougher new state laws.

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa; and Sam Farr, D-Carmel, wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, urging her to reconsider action against dispensaries like the Berkeley Patients Group and Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, “given the comprehensive and stringent regulations signed into law by CA Governor Jerry Brown last month.”

“As you know, the package of bills signed into law creates an enforceable framework for governing virtually every aspect of the medicinal cannabis industry – from licensing and taxation to quality control, shipping, packaging and pesticide standards,” they wrote.

Yet the Justice Department “continues to threaten individuals and businesses acting within the scope of states law on the medicinal use of marijuana despite formal guidance on exercising prosecutorial discretion and recent changes to federal law,” they continued. “It is counterproductive and economically prohibitive to continue a path of hostility toward dispensaries. … The will of the both voters at the ballot box and in state legislatures across the country should be respected”

SPEIER GRILLED ON ISIS: Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, who sits on both the House Intelligence and Armed Services committees, took some tough questions from MSNBC this week about how Congress, the Obama administration, the military, and presidential candidates have dealt with the so-called Islamic State.

Posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2015
Under: Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier, Mike Honda, Sam Farr, U.S. House | No Comments »

Bay Area House members laud FAA noise plan

Three Bay Area House members are praising the Federal Aviation Administration for launching an initiative to address concerns about noise from air traffic above San Francsico, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.

Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; and Sam Farr, D-Carmel, released the FAA’s action plan to the public.

“My colleagues and I have worked tirelessly to engage the FAA’s leadership to take concrete steps to mitigate and address the noise from aircraft in our respective congressional districts,” Eshoo said in a news release. “As a result of our collaboration, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and FAA Regional Director Glen Martin met with local elected officials, community groups and individuals from our congressional districts to discuss the impacts of NextGen and additional issues prior to its implementation, including Surf Air at the San Carlos Airport.

“I welcome this important first step the FAA has developed. The FAA leadership will follow up with community meetings, coordinated through our offices, to explain in detail the FAA’s plan to address the noise problems being experienced in our region.”

Speier said her constituents long have been affected by noise from San Francisco International Airport and more recently from the San Carlos and Half Moon Bay airports. The FAA’s initiative “is a compilation of the ideas that were offered by the public regarding SFO at the FAA’s recent meetings in our three congressional districts, as well as requests made by the SFO Airport Community Roundtable. Some of these ideas may be deemed workable by the FAA and some may not.

“However, having previously been resistant to taking community suggestions, the FAA, for the first time in many years, has committed to studying ideas submitted by the affected communities,” Speier said. “I am gratified that the FAA is rolling up its sleeves to come up with solutions. The health of those who live under constant bombardment of airplane noise is being seriously compromised and the FAA has a responsibility to take action to address it.”

Farr said the action plan “is evidence the FAA is willing to consider the changes proposed by the community. For months, the commercial aircraft noise in Santa Cruz and the surrounding area has been terrible. From the beginning, I have told the FAA that they created this mess so it is up to them to fix it.”

“This is only a first step but it is a good one,” he said. “It shows everyone is committed to developing some real solutions. I hope the FAA will continue to listen to the communities it serves and work with them to solve any problems that arise from the switch to the NextGen flight plan.”

Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, Sam Farr, Transportation, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

Mike Huckabee to raise funds in Bay Area

Hot on the heels of being dropped from prime time to undercard status in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debates in Milwaukee, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday to raise money for his apparently flagging campaign.

HuckabeeHuckabee will attend a reception Wednesday evening at the Los Altos Hills home of tech entrepreneur Joe Tan and his wife, Mary (insert manger joke here); tickets cost $500 per person, or $1,000 or $2,700 for a photo opportunity with Huckabee. Co-hosts include Christian grant-making charity founder and former tech executive Ken Eldred and his wife, Roberta, of Portola Valley; Cepheid cofounder Tom Gutshall and his wife, Kipp, of Los Altos Hills; venture capitalist Tim Eun and his wife, Amanda, of Los Altos; and several others.

Huckabee now polls at 2.4 percent – in ninth place among GOP candidates – according to an average of five recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 13.3 percent in early March. He has dipped below the 2.5 percent threshold that FOX Business Network and the Wall Street Journal set for participation in Tuesday’s prime-time debate; Huckabee and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had been in the first three prime-debates, both didn’t make the cut this time.

As previously reported here, Christie will be in the Bay Area next Thursday, Nov. 19 for a fundraiser at the Atherton home of Hewlett Packard CEO and 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman. Christie now polls at 2.2 percent – in 10th place – according to Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 11.5 percent about a year ago.

Marco RubioA somewhat more successful Republican candidate is on the way too. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. – already the beneficiary of Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s largesse – will return to the Bay Area for a fundraising reception on the evening of Monday, Dec. 7, at the Mozart Foundation Automobile Museum in Mountain View; tickets cost $1,000 per person, or $2,700 including a photo opportunity with the candidate. Rubio is now polling at 11.8 percent nationwide – in third place behind Donald Trump and Ben Carson – according to Real Clear Politics, down from a high of 14.3 percent in May.

The host committee for Rubio’s event includes former longtime tech executive Susan Atherton of San Francisco; angel investor Oren Dobronsky of Palo Alto; buyout firm CEO Saul Fox of Woodside; real estate developer John Mozart of Los Altos Hills; former Accenture general counsel Doug Scrivner and his wife, Mary, of Los Altos Hills; and more than 20 others. Mozart’s car private collection of automobiles including Bugatti, Alfa Romeo, Duesenberg, Pierce Arrow, Packard, and Ferrari is not open to the public.

Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance | 2 Comments »

33 new White House interns from California

Thirty-three of the White House’s Fall 2015 interns hail from or have studied in California, including 20 with Bay Area ties.

The White House says its internships provide a unique opportunity to gain valuable professional experience and build leadership skills. Interns work in one of several White House departments, including the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Office of Communications, the Office of Digital Strategy, the Office of the First Lady, the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Office of Management and Administration, the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, the Office of the Staff Secretary, the Presidential Personnel Office, the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Scheduling and Advance, the Office of the Vice President, the Office of the White House Counsel, and the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

The California interns include:

    Demi Char of San Francisco (Wesleyan University, Conn.)
    Chamroeunpaul Chhean of Long Beach (UCLA)
    Jessica Chitkuer of Fullerton (Loyola University, Chicago)
    Emily Collinson of Tustin (American University, D.C.)
    Wendy Gomez of Los Angeles (Dickinson College, Pa.)
    Joshua Gray of Simi Valley (California Lutheran University)
    Reyna Harvey of Riverside (UC Riverside)
    Logan Heley of Overland Park, Kan. (University of Southern California)
    Brian Huh of Foothill Ranch (University of Southern California)
    Jonathan Kim of Los Angeles (Duke University, N.C.)
    Cerin Lindgrensavage of Los Angeles (New York University)
    Dawn Rauch of Rutland, Vt. (UCLA)
    Janette Valenzo Venegas of Los Angeles (New York University)
    Cheryl Wilson of Santa Barbara (UC Santa Barbara)

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2015
Under: Obama presidency | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Saturday, October 24th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Hillary Clinton | 4 Comments »

Jeb Bush to raise money Oct. 20 in Bay Area

Republican Presidential candidate Jeb Bush is Bay Area-bound, with fundraisers scheduled next Tuesday, Oct. 20 in San Francisco and Woodside.

Bush first will attend a luncheon reception at the Pacific Heights home of tech entrepreneur and investor Trevor Traina and his wife, Modern House Wines proprietor Alexis Traina, in San Francisco. Later, he’ll attend an evening reception at the Woodside home of money manager Paul Edwards and his wife, Woodside Elementary School District Trustee Silvia Edwards.

A ticket to either costs $2,700, though raising $10,000 confers co-host status – with access to a photo reception – and raising $27,000 earns a place on the California finance committee with the photo op and a ticket to a future debate. Both events will be closed to the press.

Other co-chairs of the Bay Area events include Cavalry Asset Management managing partner John Hurley and his wife, Kamilla, of San Francisco; brokerage and banking mogul Charles Schwab and his wife, Helen, of Woodside; and Sequoia Capital partner and former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal Tom Stephenson and his wife, Barbara, of Atherton.

Co-hosts so far include Thumbtack general counsel Katie Biber Chen of San Francisco, who was general counsel to Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign; venture capitalist Bill Draper of Atherton, former president and chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and a longtime Bush family friend; William Grayson of San Francisco, a senior advisor at Bernstein Global Wealth Management; Ed Hearst of Danville, an attorney and government affairs executive; Greg Johnson of Hillsborough, chairman and CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments; Jay Kern of Ross, a founder and general partner of Kern Whelan Capital; attorney Josh Lipshutz, a partner at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher; and Carole McNeil of Belvedere, widow of late real estate mogul Robert McNeil.

Though Bush has seemed to be the odds-on favorite of establishment Republicans, and while the super PAC backing his campaign raised a record $103 million in the year’s first half, Bush currently ranks fifth in an average of seven national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics, behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marcio Rubio and Carly Fiorina. He’s sixth in Iowa behind Trump, Carson, Fiorina, Ted Cruz and Rubio, and fifth in New Hampshire behind Trump, Fiorina, Carson and Rubio.

Jeb Bush invite 10-20-15

Posted on Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | No Comments »

Carly Fiorina held a fundraiser in Piedmont

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was in the East Bay on Monday evening for a fundraiser.

Carly Fiorina with Judy Lloyd in Piedmont 10-12-15The former Hewlett Packard CEO attended a 5:30 p.m. reception at the Piedmont home of Bill Cumbelich, a big-time Bay Area office building broker, and his wife, Sara. The event was hosted by Bechtel Treasurer Kevin Leader; prominent CPA Mike Novogradac; former Accenture General Counsel Doug Scrivner; and health insurance broker Phil Lebherz. (Some of those very same folks hosted a fundraiser for Fiorina’s Senate campaign five years ago.)

Tickets for Monday’s event cost $500 per person for the general reception, or $2,700 per person for a private reception and photo op. Judy Lloyd of Danville, a former Senate aide and Bush administration Labor Department appointee who now runs a public affairs consulting firm, said after attending the event that she’s “intrigued by a number of GOP candidates,” but Fiorina “strikes me as remarkably Reaganesque.” That’s high praise coming from someone who’s now running a weekly study group at the University of Kansas’ Dole Institute of Politics called “First in Their Class: Authentic Women and the Originality that Got Them There.”

“She definitely delivered – she has grown so much since she ran for U.S. Senate here. Like anyone who loses an election or suffers a loss of any kind, if you take the right lessons you get stronger, and I believe she has,” Lloyd said, adding she was particularly impressed by Fiorina’s point that true leaders differ from managers because they challenge the status quo.

“It was a very strong message about her own leadership – she’s not afraid to be challenged,” she said. “She didn’t talk in platitudes or rhetoric, it was all authentic. … And she probably shook every hand – everyone who wanted to meet her had the opportunity.”

Fiorina’s calendar shows a busy schedule of 10 events coming up this Thursday through Saturday in Iowa. She’s now in fourth place behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio in an average of seven recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics; she’s in third place behind Trump and Carson in Iowa, and in second place behind Trump in New Hampshire.


Posted on Monday, October 12th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina | No Comments »

Politicos mourn former Rep. Don Edwards

California politicos are paying tribute to former Rep. Don Edwards, a Democrat who represented part of the South Bay from 1963 to 1995; he died at age 100 on Thursday at his Carmel home.

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

“Today, with the passing of former Congressman Don Edwards, America has lost a venerable civil rights champion who dedicated his life to promoting peace, defending liberty, and securing justice for all people. He was a principled leader, a kind and trusted friend to many, an august statesman, and a proud Californian who was committed to preserving our environment and pursuing equality for women, people of color and all American families.

“Whether in his service as an FBI agent or as a Navy officer during World War II, Congressman Edwards labored with dignity, led with integrity and lived with courage. As Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights for more than twenty years, he strived to ensure that all Americans enjoyed equality of opportunity. During his 32 years in the House, Congressman Edwards helped changed the course of history by championing the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and fighting to protect freedom of speech and the privacy rights of citizens. Congressman Edwards, the long-time dean of the California Democratic delegation and conscience of the Congress, strived to move our country forward.

“As Americans enjoy the pristine view and tranquility of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, may we remember the man who dedicated his life to preserving our environment and our ideals for future generations. May it be a comfort to his family and all who loved him that so many mourn the loss of a consummate public servant and proud American.”

From Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose:

“After working for Congressman Don Edwards for nearly a decade, and having the honor to succeed him in Congress, I feel a profound sense of loss upon his passing.

“Don spent his life in service to the state of California and to our country as a Member of Congress for 32 years. His contributions will live on for many generations through the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, through his stalwart defense of the Constitution, his profound dedication to civil rights, his tireless advocacy for the rights of women as the ‘Father of the Equal Rights Amendment,’ and his lifelong efforts for a peaceful world. He will be always be remembered for his exemplary service in Congress and love for the South bay.”

From state Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“I am saddened by the passing of Mr. Edwards, a man I respected greatly for his intellect, thoughtfulness and commitment to our country. Working for Congressman Edwards in Washington is one of the highlights of my years in public service. His integrity, his courage to fight for his beliefs, and his fierce defense of all Americans’ civil and constitutional rights are traits I will always remember and respect. Mr. Edwards would fight fiercely with Congressional opponents, but always with civility.

“People come from all over to visit the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in my district and it’s a great testament to his commitment to our environment.

“I visited him often in Carmel to solicit his input on legislation I was carrying in the California Legislature. We need more people like him in public service. I will miss him dearly.”

Posted on Friday, October 2nd, 2015
Under: U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Donald Trump wins another Bay Area straw poll

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, despite a drop in his national poll numbers in recent weeks, has taken first place in another Bay Area straw poll.

The San Mateo County Republican Party polled 135 attendees at this past weekend’s Pacifica Fog Fest; respondents weren’t asked their party affiliation.

Trump topped the list with 29.6 percent, followed by Ben Carson at 20 percent; Carly Fiorina at 11.1 percent, Ted Cruz at 10.4 percent and Jeb Bush at 9.6 percent.

County GOP chairman Chuck McDougald noted this was the third street-festival poll the county GOP conducted this summer, and results have been “just as fluid as the national polls. It shows that this race is really just beginning. And, it’s interesting to note that the respondents in this poll overwhelmingly broke for the three perceived outsider candidates, just as they are in national polling.”

Posted on Monday, September 28th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | 1 Comment »

Bay Area man to direct Ted Cruz’s Calif. campaign

A Bay Area political consultant has been tapped as California state director for Republican Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

Jason Scalese2Jason Scalese, 40, of Burlingame, joins Ron Nehring, the former state GOP chairman from El Cajon who was named Cruz’s California chairman in May.

“I’m thrilled to be serving with the Cruz campaign,” Scalese said in Cruz’s news release. “I believe that the Senator is a once in a generation leader who will protect religious liberty, defend our country and our constitution, and make us proud to call him our President. With the largest delegation headed to Cleveland for the RNC in 2016, we will be working hard to make sure California is Cruz Country!”

Scalese is managing partner of GOP consulting firm Fusion Strategies, and has managed operations, grassroots and finance for local, statewide and federal campaigns. He previously served in similar roles for Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain and Fred Thompson.

“With Jason’s knowledge of California politics and grassroots organizing, he’ll be an important addition to our effort in the Golden State,” Cruz said in his release, citing the appointment as “more evidence that we are putting together an incredibly competitive campaign and will be successful. I would stack our operation up against anyone else in the race.”

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election | 2 Comments »