Part of the Bay Area News Group

Your House member’s State of the Union guest

Here are the special guests whom Bay Area members of Congress are bringing to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Alicia Garza

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin: Fremont Police Chief Richard Lucero, a gun-control advocate

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough: Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who first published findings on the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy on football players; Omalu is portrayed by Will Smith in the film Concussion.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord: Amanda Wilcox, the legislation and policy chair for the California Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Wilcox’s daughter, Laura, was shot to death in 2001.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: Ali Rezaian, brother of Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American journalist and Washington Post Tehran bureau chief who has been imprisoned in Iran since July 2014; the brothers are Marin County natives.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose: Irene Bueno, whose family immigrated to the United States from the Philippines; due to the slow legal process, her aunt and cousins were separated for many years. Honda will introduce family reunification immigration legislation in March.

Rep Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: Sameena Usman, government relations coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ San Francisco Bay Area chapter.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: Intuit CEO Brad Smith, who hosted Eshoo and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for a tour and Q&A with company executives.

UPDATE @ 3:34 P.M.: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson earlier Tuesday questioned the wisdom of allowing two members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, to attend the State of the Union. Both Lofgren and Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., brought them as invited guests.

“They have done things that are clearly, you know, not pro-American,” Carson said on CNN. “If they are our buddies, let’s put that clearly out there. And if they’re not our buddies, let’s not be giving them access to the ability to further carry on what they call a civilization jihad and to change us from a Judeo-Christian foundation to a Muslim foundation. We have got to be smarter than that.”

But Lofgren told me this afternoon that Carson’s comments are “sadly misinformed,” and she was delighted that Usman had accepted her invitation as a means of “highlighting patriotic Americans who are also Muslims.”

“She has been a terrific leader in our community for civil rights” not only among Muslims but in the Bay Area at large, Lofgren said. “To suggest somehow that she is un-American is just pathetic … It’s ignorant and sad, but luckily it’s very clear Dr. Carson will not be our president, so I guess he’s entitled to his ignorant statements.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Mike Honda, Obama presidency, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 2 Comments »

How Bay Area members voted on taxes/spending

Congress on Friday cleared a year-end spending and tax deal with a strong bipartisan support, despite grumbling from both parties over what was included in the agreement and what got left out, the Washington Post reports.

The House passed the $1.1 trillion spending portion of the deal on a 316-113 vote early Friday morning, with 150 Republicans and 166 Democrats supporting the measure, after passing the $622 billion tax section of the agreement Thursday on a 318-109 vote.

The Senate soon after passed both parts of the agreement on a 65-33 vote, with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in support and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., not voting. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation into law.

From the Bay Area, representatives Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Sam Farr, D-Carmel; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; and Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, all opposed the tax section of the deal Thursday, while Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, voted for it.

DeSaulnier said the tax-extender section isn’t paid for and will increase the deficit. “This package largely benefits corporations at the expense of working families and undermines programs like Pell grants, Headstart, job training and health research,” he said. “I could not support a package that mortgages our children’s future, reduces our payments on the nation’s debt and robs from the Social Security Trust Fund.”

All Bay Area House members except Lofgren supported the omnibus spending deal Friday morning.

“I was unable to vote for the Omnibus spending bill today because it included an extraneous provision purported to facilitate cybersecurity information sharing that – in effect – will function as a surveillance tool,” Lofgren said, noting Congress has debated cybersecurity for the past year and she voted for an earlier bill that would address concerns while protecting Americans’ private digital information.

“Information sharing requires measures to protect Americans’ privacy. It should also be debated in regular order. But this so-called ‘cybersecurity legislation’ was inserted into a must-pass Omnibus at the 11th hour, without debate,” she said. “The protective measures that such a bill should have – including those I believe the Constitution requires – were removed. While the Omnibus had both pros and cons, my obligation to protect constitutional rights isn’t negotiable. I made clear to House Leadership and the White House that I could not support the Omnibus with this cyber surveillance measure included. I have enclosed several letters crafted in the last two days outlining my concerns related to the bill.”

Posted on Friday, December 18th, 2015
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, Barbara Lee, Dianne Feinstein, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Sam Farr, U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

Carly Fiorina to raise funds Dec. 14 in Palo Alto

A lawyer who helped then-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina beat back a lawsuit that aimed to prevent 2001’s HP-Compaq merger now is about to host a fundraiser for Fiorina’s presidential campaign.

Carly FiorinaBoris Feldman, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and his wife, Robin, will host a reception for Fiorina on Monday, Dec. 14 at their Palo Alto home. Tickets for the “New York Deli style luncheon” cost $500 per person – here’s hoping that pastrami is excellent – or $2,700 for a host-committee reception and photo opportunity with the candidate.

Fiorina will head to Las Vegas the next day, Dec. 15, for the next Republican presidential debate, hosted by CNN, Facebook and Salem Media; CNN personality Wolf Blitzer will be the moderator, joined by correspondent Dana Bash and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Fiorina, a former Los Altos Hills resident who proudly touts her time at HP’s helm despite experts’ questioning of her business record, last visited the Bay Area in early October, for a fundraising reception in Piedmont.

According to the 2008 edition of Northern California Super Lawyers, Feldman usually defends “companies and senior executives facing shareholder suits and SEC investigations involving alleged violations of securities laws.

Boris Feldman“One example is a court victory that prevented a shareholder and former director of Hewlett-Packard from stopping the company’s merger with Compaq Computer,” the publication reported. “At the trial, Feldman put then-HP CEO Carly Fiorina on the stand. By carefully preparing her, he made Fiorina a knowledgeable, persuasive witness. ‘Too often litigators allow [senior executive] clients to look stupid for tactical reasons,’ he says.”

Feldman told the New York Times in mid-September that Fiorina’s first foray onto the prime-time debate stage would be “a defining moment in Carly’s career.” Her poll numbers did improve sharply after that first show-down with frontrunner Donald Trump, but the surge didn’t last: After a brief stint in third place nationwide with 11.8 percent of the vote in late September, she’s now in sixth place with 3.7 percent, according to an average of recent polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. In Iowa, she’s ranked sixth at 3.7 percent as well; in New Hampshire – where she’d been ranked second for a while – she’s now tied for eighth, at 4.3 percent.

Before Fiorina gets here, Marco Rubio will step up to the Bay Area campaign ATM with a fundraiser next Monday, Dec. 7 in Mountain View (as previously reported here).

Posted on Monday, November 30th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, campaign finance, Carly Fiorina | No Comments »

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.

oct12page1

Posted on Monday, October 12th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina | 1 Comment »