10

CA17: Khanna tops Honda again in fundraising

Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna significantly outraised incumbent Rep. Mike Honda in 2015’s final quarter, and now has about three times as much money banked for their electoral rematch this year, according to initial reports from both campaigns.

Both Democrats want to represent the 17th Congressional District, which lies in the heart of Silicon Valley and is the first district outside Hawaii in which Asian-Americans make up a majority of voters. Khanna, a Fremont resident who served for two years in President Barack Obama’s Commerce Department, lost 2014’s bruising, nationally watched election by 3.6 percentage points as Honda held on for an eighth term.

Ro KhannaKhanna’s campaign said Wednesday that he raised more than $500,000 and spent about $117,000 from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, leaving him with more than $1.7 million cash on hand and about $52,800 in outstanding debt.

“I am proud to see support for our campaign to strengthen the middle class create this type of enthusiasm and energy,” Khanna said in a news release. “Because we refuse to take PAC and lobbyist money, we’re going to need our grassroots support to take on the special interests and bring change to Washington. As we grow our campaign in 2016, we will continue to fund a grassroots campaign that engages and empowers the people of the 17th District.”

Khanna spent big on television ads and campaign consultants in 2014’s primary, leaving his campaign almost broke in the final weeks before that November’s general election; a super PAC called Californians for Innovation independently spent about $776,000 on his behalf to help bear him over the finish line.

Honda’s campaign said Wednesday that he raised $290,250 and spent $276,137 – a much higher burn rate than Khanna’s – in 2015’s fourth quarter, leaving him with $571,266 cash on hand and $20,907 in outstanding debt.

honda.jpgThe congressman “has raised more money at this point in the campaign cycle than in 2014, and like last time, the campaign is on track to raise the resources necessary to win this race,” campaign manager Michael Beckendorf said. “Even without the luxury of conservative millionaires and billionaires bankrolling his campaign, Mike Honda will win this race because he is the only candidate who has a track record of reaching across the aisle to deliver for Silicon Valley while standing up for justice and equality.”

But it’s not just re-election for which Honda is raising money. His campaign in the first three quarters of last year paid out a total of about $109,000 to two Washington, D.C., law firms and a San Francisco crisis-communications shop to combat the ongoing ethics investigation of which he’s a target. The House Ethics Committee is still probing whether Honda’s office and campaign broke House rules or federal laws by sharing resources, and it’s not yet known how much he paid his lawyers and spokespeople in the year’s final quarter.

Neither candidate’s full report to the Federal Election Commission is available yet; the filing deadline is Jan. 31. Khanna outraised Honda in 2015’s third, second and first quarters, too.

1

Newsom’s gun-control measure short on cash so far

Two months after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his proposal for a gun-control ballot measure, money has come in only at a trickle.

Gavin NewsomThe “Safety for All” ballot measure committee has collected $55,000 in large donations so far, according to records maintained by the Secretary of State’s office. That’s $35,000 this week from gun-control activist Anita Donofrio, a retiree from Ridgefield, Conn.; $10,000 last week from Esprit and The North Face co-founder Susie Buell of San Francisco; and $10,000 in October from heiress and philanthropist Aileen Getty of San Francisco.

Newsom in October had said he already had some offers of financial support and “we’re hoping to get a broad coalition of supporters.” Dan Newman, Newsom’s campaign strategist, said Friday that’s still the aim.

They have “tons of interest including solid commitments from people of all stripes who are fed up with the NRA,” Newman said. “We may never match them (the NRA) dollar for dollar, but I have complete confidence we’ll have what it takes.”

Newsom’s measure should receive its official title and summer from the state Attorney General’s office by the end of this month, and then will be able to start circulating petitions. Paid petition circulation for a statewide measure typically costs a few million dollars.

California’s current assault weapons ban allows those who already owned magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds before 2000 to register and keep them. Newsom’s measure would require owners to turn the outlawed magazines into police for destruction, sell them to a licensed firearms dealer or move them out of the state — just as San Francisco supervisors and Sunnyvale voters chose to require in 2013. New York, New Jersey, Hawaii and the District of Columbia also have such laws.

Newsom’s measure also would require licensing of ammunition sellers and instantaneous point-of-sale background checks for all ammunition purchases to weed out those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, those with restraining orders against them or those declared dangerously mentally ill. No other state requires background checks for ammunition purchases.

And the measure would require firearm owners to notify law enforcement if their firearm has been lost or stolen. Eleven states and the city of Sacramento already require this, but Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed bills to do just that in 2012 and 2013.

6

A strong day for Bernie Sanders

It’s a heck of a good day for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, bringing two big endorsements and a fundraising milestone.

Bernie SandersSanders was endorsed Thursday by the Communications Workers of America, which represents 700,000 Americans in telecommunications and information technology, the airline industry, news media, broadcast and cable television, education, health care and public service, law enforcement, manufacturing and other fields. (Full disclosure: I’m a member of the CWA-affiliated Pacific Media Workers Guild, though I don’t engage in union political activities.)

CWA has more than 300,000 active and retired members in the states that will hold primaries between now and April 1. In California, Texas, New York, New Jersey and Ohio, where CWA has its largest numbers of members, activists are engaged in worksite actions, staffing phone banks and signing up new contributors to CWA’s political program ahead of the 2016 election.

Union members voted to endorse Sanders “because he is the candidate who is talking about real solutions to make our economy fair again, CWA President Chris Shelton said in a news release.

“Politics as usual has gotten working people nowhere. It’s time for real change. That’s what CWA members are saying, loud and clear,” Shelton said. “Our members are ready to do what it takes to elect Bernie Sanders as the next president of the United States.”

Sanders also was endorsed Thursday by Democracy for America, the national progressive grassroots group that grew out of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign. DFA said this is the first presidential primary endorsement it has ever made, and Sanders took 87.9 percent of the 271,527 votes cast by DFA members nationwide.

“Bernie Sanders is an unyielding populist progressive who decisively won Democracy for America members’ first presidential primary endorsement because of his lifelong commitment to taking on income inequality and the wealthy and powerful interests who are responsible for it,” DFA executive director Charles Chamberlain said in a news release.

“Throughout his campaign, Bernie has repeatedly said that the huge problems of income inequality, money in politics, and structural racism that our country must confront are bigger than a single campaign — they need a political revolution,” Chamberlain added. “With today’s endorsement, DFA members are joining Bernie’s ‘political revolution’ and working to take it both to the White House and up-and-down the ballot, in races coast to coast.”

Finally, Sanders’ campaign announced it has made history by collecting more than 2 million contributions. More than $3 million was raised since an online push was launched Monday to top the 2 million donation mark; of that, about $1.6 million has been raised just since Wednesday.

“What our vision of a political revolution has already accomplished is to show that we can run a strong and we believe winning campaign without a super PAC, without contributions from millionaires and billionaires,” Sanders said in a statement issued Thursday. “We are enormously proud that we have received more individual contributions at this point in the campaign than any candidate who is not an incumbent president. As the campaign continues to succeed, we expect those numbers to grow exponentially.”

Sanders trails Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton by 24 percentage points, according to an average of six recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. In Iowa, he trails Clinton by 18 points, but in New Hampshire, he leads Clinton by 5 points.

The next Democratic presidential primary debate is scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific Time this Sunday, Dec. 19 on ABC News; it will be held at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H., with David Muir and Martha Raddatz of ABC News as moderators.

8

CA17: New pay-to-play claims against Honda

Rep. Mike Honda gave preferential treatment to campaign donors, according to a report published Wednesday by San Jose Inside.

honda.jpgThe alternate weekly says an anonymous source provided Honda’s “1,000 Cranes” database – a list of donors who’ve given at least $1,000 each, and the basis of accusations that Honda, D-San Jose, engaged in pay-to-play politics. The list’s existence was disclosed in an Office of Congressional Ethics report which became public in September.

The OCE report had revealed that the list, which Honda said was a personal effort he shared only with a campaign official, actually was discussed at an official staff retreat in 2012. Notes from that retreat obtained by investigators say “to work, it will require MH to use his personal touch … also will likely be transactional — i.e. help me with this visa for my grandma.”

Honda remains under investigation by the House Ethics Committee regarding whether interactions between his office and his campaign violated House rules or federal law, even as he tries to fend off a second electoral challenge from fellow Democrat Ro Khanna.

San Jose Inside’s report says Honda’s list actually consisted of contact information for 281 people and groups who’d supported his re-election bids in 2010 and 2012. Reporter Josh Koehn then listed several instances in which people on that list seemed to be cozy with Honda, ranging from the lawmaker wishing his biggest 2010 donor a happy birthday on the House floor, to an s unsuccessful Honda bill backed by two of the “cranes.” It also notes that the only bill introduced by Honda that’s been directly signed into law – to name a San Jose post office after Gordon Chan in 2009 – was followed by substantial donations by Chan’s widow in 2010 and 2012.

Most if not all members of Congress keep lists of big donors, and most if not all take money before or after saying or doing something complimentary or beneficial to the donor. It can be unsettling or unseemly, but it’s only illegal if there’s a direct, proven quid pro quo – hard evidence that the lawmaker demanded money in return for favors, or that a donor offered money for a specific official action and the lawmaker accepted. So far, there’s no such evidence for Honda.

“It seems to me there are some links missing in the chain,” said Larry Gerston, a San Jose State University professor emeritus of political science who has followed the district closely. “I’m not so sure that this alone tells us anything terrible is amiss.”

“People contribute to people running for office – that’s as old as anything we know about politics – and people in positions of power introduce legislation or commendations for people who help them get elected,” he said. “But this doesn’t say a whole lot more than that. And how many times did Congressman Honda propose legislation or offer commendations for people who didn’t contribute $1,000 or more?”

Hari Sevugan, spokesman for Khanna’s campaign, said Wednesday that “the evidence of Mike Honda engaging in multiple pay-to-play relationships with his top donors is deeply disturbing and raises more questions than answers.”

“But what we know for sure are his priorities,” Sevugan continued. “We’ve now learned of five instances of Mike Honda doing special favors for his top contributors. All while he’s passed just one bill in his 15 years in Congress. To name a post office. After the family member of a contributor. That says it all.”

Michael Beckendorf, Honda’s campaign manager, said the list on which the San Jose Inside report was based is “nothing more than a list of donors that anyone could obtain from public record.”

“We can only wonder what nickname Ro Khanna gives his list of ultra conservative millionaire and billionaire backers,” Beckendorf added. “It’s no wonder Khanna opposes raising taxes on the richest two percent and puts corporations and the wealthy ahead of the middle class. Congressman Honda is the only candidate in this race who has a record of standing up for working class Americans and delivering for Silicon Valley.”

Meanwhile, the campaign grinds slowly onward.

Honda announced endorsements this week from Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison, Newark Mayor Alan Nagy, Sunnyvale Mayor Jim Griffith, and Santa Clara Mayor Jamie Matthews, whose cities account for a majority of the 17th Congressional District’s registered voters.

In a news release, Harrison praised Honda’s support of the Warm Springs BART Station and advocacy in revitalizing Fremont’s high-tech manufacturing industry, while Nagy said Honda is dedicated to “expanding opportunities for people of all backgrounds.” Griffith said Honda has been “an active and visible leader in Sunnyvale” who understands the region and its residents, and Matthews said Honda has fought to fund crucial Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority projects as well as to prevent closure of the post office at Franklin Mall.

And Ron Cohen, a Fremont accountant and Republican candidate in this race, filed a complaint Sunday claiming that a mailer Honda sent at taxpayers’ expense as “franked mail” was actually a campaign communication.

“Rather than a specific discussion in his own words of this views and beliefs on legislative matters, the vast majority of the piece I received is a series of quotations of reports by news outlets and related pictures … which I would argue are campaign-like promotional statements,” Cohen wrote to the OCE.

3

Gavin Newsom raises money with Train tickets

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is raising money for his 2018 gubernatorial campaign by raffling off tickets to a Grammy-winning band that prides itself on its San Francisco pedigree.

“We’re putting on a small concert with Train on November 3 in San Francisco, and I’m hoping you’ll be able to join me!” Newsom wrote in an email to supporters Wednesday. “When Train played the Bay Area this summer, it was for a crowd of 22,000 – but this will be a small crowd and an intimate venue (not a bad seat in the house!). We’ll get to hang out with the band before the show, and I’ll also introduce you to some of my family and friends – and Jen will be there, too, of course!”

A donation of $5 or more automatically enters the contributor to win two tickets, plus travel and hotel costs for winners coming from out of town.

Formed in San Francisco in 1993, Train has had platinum-album hits including “Meet Virginia” (1998), “Drops of Jupiter” (2001), “Calling All Angels” (2003), and “Hey, Soul Sister” (2009) – the latter from the album “Save Me, San Francisco,” of which the title track is a paean to the city by the bay.

2

Twitter launches $Cashtags for political donations

Twitter launched a new service Tuesday letting users contribute to their favorite political candidates and causes through a tweet.

The micro-blogging social media giant teamed up with its San Francisco neighbor, Square, to set up the new system.

Twitter CashtagCandidates who sign up for an account through Square Cash can tweet a unique URL, or $Cashtag, to request donations from supporters. The tweet will automatically include an image with a “contribute” button, making it easy for anyone to click to donate directly through the tweet.

Donors who see a candidate’s $Cashtag and hit the “contribute” button will be able to select a donation amount and add debit card and FEC-required information. Users then have the option to tweet the candidate’s $Cashtag to their own followers or return to where they were in Twitter.

Twitter also noted Tuesday it has developed tools like country-specific notifications to remind people to register to vote, richer Tweets that make email collection for campaigns easier, and real-time audience tailoring so advertisers can better identify and target relevant conversations.

“By partnering with Square to enable donations through Tweets, and as the 2016 election season heats up, we’ve upgraded these tools through which citizens can raise their voices to champion causes and candidates they support,” Twitter wrote in a blog post.