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Obama returns to Bay Area on May 8

President Obama will return to the Bay Area on Thursday, May 8 for a pair of high-priced events to raise money for the Democratic National Committee.

Tickets for a reception at the Palo Alto home of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer start at $1,000 for individual guests, while $5,000 buys a place in the photo line; $7,500 buys access and photos for two; $10,000 buys co-chair status; and $32,400 buys all that plus membership in the DNC Presidential Partners Program.

Mayer hosted Obama for a DNC fundraiser in October 2010, when she was still an executive at Google.

“We need the resources to put Democrats in office to move our country forward,” says the invitation to this upcoming event. “Since we do not take money from special interests, corporate lobbyists, and political action committees, we rely on dedicated Democrats like you. Please join us for a reception to support this important work.”

Obama also is expected to do a roundtable with about 20 tech executives that same day somewhere in Silicon Valley, with seats going for the $32,400 maximum contribution. It’s not yet known whether he’ll do any official events while he’s here, or whether he’ll be staying overnight.

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Obama presidency | 5 Comments »

Legal scandals lead Dems to cancel golf fundraiser

Chalk up one immediate victim of the ethical and legal scandals sullying the state Senate: Golf.

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Kevin de Leon, who’ll succeed Steinberg in the top spot at the end of this year, issued a joint statement Tuesday announcing they’ve cancelled this weekend’s Pro Tem Cup – the annual Democratic party fundraiser at which donors give tens of thousands of dollars to join legislative leaders on the links at Torrey Pines in La Jolla – “in light of the very recent and extraordinary breaches of the public trust by three individuals.”

C’mon, guys, SAY THE NAMES! Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, convicted of voter fraud and perjury; Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, indicted on bribery charges; and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, charged last week with trading favors for money and conspiring to traffic arms.

So, no golf!

“In its place, we intend to spend this weekend in our districts having an open and public conversation with our constituents about the work ahead for this Legislature and for this state,” Steinberg and de Leon said in their joint statement. “It’s important that our constituents understand that, despite the appalling acts of a few individuals who – on their own – put self-interest ahead of the public interest, the Senators who are here are here to serve, to do the hard, unglamorous work of fixing tough public-policy problems, and – most important – to do it the right way.”

And that means putting the putters away. Steinberg and de Leon said the modern campaign system makes fundraising “an occupational necessity, but Senate Democrats have always prided themselves on doing it ethically, appropriately, and in full adherence to every rule and regulation governing public disclosure.

“The Pro Tem Cup has long been a successful, signature example of this,” they said. “But these are unprecedented times and they demand that we take a step back and take stock of how we all do the people’s business and balance it against the demands of running for office.”

The lawmakers said Senate leadership in coming weeks will conduct a “rigorous review of existing campaign finance laws and our own internal fundraising practices – and make recommendations on where we can improve as a caucus and a state, with a focus on when, where and how we raise campaign dollars and how we increase public transparency.” They’ll also schedule a public hearing to discuss campaign finance “the constitutional limits on reform.”

“Make no mistake: Senate Democrats fully intend to strengthen our productive, progressive majority this election year and have no intention of unilaterally disarming in terms of campaign resources,” Steinberg and de Leon said. “But this is time for a reality check. And, while the Legislature as a whole cannot be held responsible for the bad acts of three individual members, we do bear a high and profound responsibility to do all we can to repair the excruciating breach of public confidence they left behind.”

Posted on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Under: California State Senate, campaign finance, Darrell Steinberg, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Leland Yee | 9 Comments »

Immigration activists target Goodlatte fundraiser

Immigration reform activists plan to protest Wednesday evening outside a Silicon Valley fundraiser for House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, asking guests to pressure Goodlatte to address House GOP leaders’ reticence on the issue.

Bob GoodlatteThe 5:30 p.m. protest near the Los Altos Hills home of Oracle Chief Financial Officer Safra Catz is organized by Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN); SEIU United Service Workers West; United Farm Workers Foundation; Student Advocates for Higher Education; and Youth United for Community Action.

“Workers in Silicon Valley and throughout the Bay Area have been calling for reform – from the tech workers and entrepreneurs in the Peninsula to farmworkers in the fields, workers call for reform that provides a pathway to citizenship, families to be reunited, and strong worker protections,” said the news release announcing the protest. “Will Goodlatte listen?”

House Republican leaders in late January rolled out a statement of principles for pursuing immigration reform, but within days were saying it’s not likely to happen this year.

Goodlatte’s website says he has “strongly advocated for immigration reform that focuses on enforcement and upholding the rule of law, including elimination of enforcement waivers that have been abused by previous and current Administrations.

“To be clear, any immigration reform proposal must first guarantee that our immigration laws are enforced both at the border and within the United States,” Goodlatte wrote. “I remain opposed to amnesty, as I always have been. I do not support a special pathway to citizenship that rewards those who have broken our immigration laws.”

The fundraiser for Goodlatte, R-Va., is organized through TechNet, a tech industry lobbying group; tickets cost from $10,000 to $40,000. Goodlatte is being challenged in this June’s GOP primary by Paul Bevington, a libertarian-leaning high school teacher.

Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Under: Immigration, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

CA17: George Takei to raise money for Honda

Rep. Mike Honda is trying to take his campaign fundraising to warp speed with a reception next month featuring actor and internet sensation George Takei of “Star Trek” fame.

George TakeiThe March 20 reception in San Francisco – location known only to those who RSVP – seeks anywhere from $50 for basic entry to $1,000 for a host committee level or $2,600 for an “Oh Myyy! Giver,” a nod to Takei’s renowned catchphrase.

Honda, D-San Jose, could definitely use a boost – he was out-raised in every quarter of last year by his Democratic challenger, former Obama administration official Ro Khanna of Fremont. Dr. Vanila Singh, a Republican from Fremont, is also in the 17th Congressional District race.

The hosts include venture capitalist Andrew Rappaport and his wife, Deborah; Ted Fang, president and executive director of the AsianWeek Foundation and a former editor and publisher of the San Francisco Examiner and AsianWeek; Yahoo! employee and Democratic activist Regina Wallace-Jones; i-Human Patients CEO Norm Wu; Palo Alto City Councilman Marc Berman; personal injury attorney Dale Minami; business attorney Quyen Ta; Four Freedoms Fund senior program officer Henry Der; Realtor Pam Rodgers; and UC-Hastings law professor Carol Izumi.

Takei, 76, might be as famous now for his social media presence and activism as for his iconic role as Mr. Sulu in the original “Star Trek” television series and related movies.

Posted on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

CA17: Don’t call Ro Khanna a millionaire

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna took umbrage at being called a millionaire by one of Rep. Mike Honda’s supporters and fellow House members.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, on Tuesday invited contributors to a March 17 fundraiser in Monterey Park on Honda’s behalf. The email didn’t specifically name Khanna, but it seems clear Chu wasn’t talking about Dr. Vanilla Singh, a Fremont Republican who entered the race last month, when writing that “Rep. Honda is facing a tough race against a well-funded millionaire.”

Well-funded, yes: Khanna, an attorney and former Obama administration official from Fremont, had about $1.97 million banked for his 17th Congressional District campaign as of the end of 2013, while the incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, had about $623,000.

But millionaire, no. Khanna’s campaign issued a “Truth Squad” communiqué Tuesday noting Khanna “is the son of immigrants, and the product of a middle-class upbringing. Today, Ro is still paying off his own student loans. Ro is not a millionaire.”

“This fundraising email from Congressman Honda’s supporter is just the latest example of a baseless attack waged against Ro,” Khanna’s campaign added. “Candidates and their allies should stick to the facts instead of engaging in ad hominem personal attacks. Congressman Honda should call on Congresswoman Chu to correct her misstatement and set the record straight.”

Chu’s response said nothing of Khanna’s own wealth.

“Ro Khanna’s campaign is well-funded and fueled by maxed-out contributions from far-right conservative millionaires like Peter Thiel and Marc Leder who are actively working against our efforts to move the country forward,” she said via e-mail Tuesday night. “Mike Honda has been a tireless champion for the Asian-American community and his district, as Khanna has said so himself. I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure Mike is re-elected.”

Chu succeeded Honda as chair of the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus in 2011.

Posted on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Upcoming events with FCC chair, First Lady & me

Tom Wheeler (AP photo)This Thursday, Jan. 9, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler will be in Oakland for a town hall giving local residents a chance to share their stories and speak about the impacts of an increasingly corporate media environment. The event – from 7 to 9 p.m., in Nile Hall, 1233 Preservation Park Way – is hosted by Voices for Internet Freedom, the Center for Media Justice, Free Press, ColorOfChange and the National Hispanic Media Coalition. Other featured speakers will include California Public Utilities Commissioner Catherine Sandoval, Greenlining Institute energy and telecommunications policy director Stephanie Chen, CIVIC Co-Executive Director Christina Mansfield, The Utility Reform Network Executive Director Mark Toney, and representatives from the host organizations. The event is free and open to the public but seating is limited, so attendees should RSVP online.

In the realm of shameless self-promotion (though not really, as I don’t get paid), I’ll be part of the Commonwealth Club’s “Week to Week” news roundtable at 6:30 p.m. next Monday, January 13, in the club’s offices on the second floor of 595 Market St. in San Francisco. I’ll be joining attorney Melissa Griffin Caen, a contributor to KPIX-TV and San Francisco magazine, and the Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli, with the club’s John Zipperer as moderator. Come early at 5:30 p.m. for a wine-and-cheese social – current events are always better after wine. Tickets cost $5 for club members, $15 for non-members or $7 for students, and are available online.

Michelle ObamaAnd, First Lady Michelle Obama will join House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to headline a women’s luncheon and reception to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Friday, Jan. 31 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The fundraising page makes no mention of the First Lady, but a White House official speaking on background confirmed Monday that she’s scheduled to attend. Tickets range from $500 each to $32,400, the latter of which buys two tickets to the VIP reception and photo line and a table for 10 at lunch. The First Lady had been scheduled to raise money for Democrats in October in the Bay Area, but cancelled her trip amid the government shutdown.

Posted on Monday, January 6th, 2014
Under: Calendar | 2 Comments »

Tix start at $1k for Obama’s DNC fundraiser in SF

President Barack Obama will be back in the Bay Area in late November to raise money for Democrats.

The luncheon on Monday, Nov. 25 at the San Francisco Jazz Center will be hosted by novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife, Nicola Miner, who held a fundraiser for Obama in their Pacific Heights home in February 2012.

An invitation to the event says tickets cost $1,000 per person; $5,000 for lunch and a photo reception; $7,500 for lunch and the photo reception for two; $10,000 for lunch and the photo reception for a family of up to five people; or $15,000 for lunch and a special co-chair reception. All money goes to the Democratic National Committee.

The San Francisco luncheon is part of the latest national fundraising blitz the President is undertaking on behalf of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Obama did fundraisers for the DSCC in Palo Alto and Portola Valley this past June, and for the DCCC in April in San Francisco.

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, campaign finance, Democratic Party | 20 Comments »

CA17: Former 49ers stars raise money for Khanna

Amid trying to explain a website snafu which created “personal fundraiser” pages for Twitter followers without their knowledge or consent, House candidate Ro Khanna’s campaign tried to get the word out Tuesday about an upcoming fundraiser with some 49ers flair.

Khanna & LottFormer 49ers stars Ronnie Lott, Harris Barton, Roger Craig, and Dwight Clark will headline a fundraiser for Khanna – a former Obama administration official who’s seeking to unseat fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda – next Monday, Oct. 28 in Fremont.

“After being part of four Super Bowl winning teams, I know what it takes to deliver results,” Lott wrote in an email to Khanna supporters, describing Khanna as someone who “embodies the key principles of hard work and leadership.”

“Keeping up with the news in Washington lately has made me deeply frustrated,” Lott wrote. “Entrenched special interests have gummed up the works of Congress and nothing is getting done on behalf of the American people. I think it’s time for new leadership, and just like there came a time to pass the torch from Joe to Steve, and from Alex to Colin, now is the time to pass the torch from Mike to Ro. We need new energy and bold ideas to confront the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.”

Tickets for Monday’s event range in cost from $1,000 to $5,200.

Khanna raised $1.2 million in the final quarter of 2011, when people thought he would run to succeed Rep. Pete Stark; Stark chose not to retire in 2012, and was defeated in November by Rep. Eric Swalwell, another Democrat. Since entering this 17th Congressional District race in early April, Khanna has outstripped Honda in fundraising in this year’s second and third quarters.

The Bay Area Chapter of KAYA Filipino Americans for Progress, a political mobilization group, held a fundraiser for Honda on Monday night in Daly City. His campaign said he’ll be in Washington for the next week, but has scheduled campaign meet-and-greets (contributions of $10 to $500 requested by not required) for Saturday, Nov. 2 in Cupertino and Sunnyvale.

Posted on Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Michelle Obama to raise $$$ for DNC in Bay Area

First Lady Michelle Obama will headline a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 12 in Belvedere.

Tickets to the 2:30 p.m. reception at the home of retired software executive Noelle Leca and attorney Michael Moradzadeh start at $1,000 per head; it’s $5,000 for a photo with the First Lady, plus $1,000 per additional person in the photo, or $32,400 to become a co-chair and have an even smaller audience with Mrs. Obama.

Posted on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, Democratic politics | 2 Comments »

CA17: Mike Honda sings; Ro Khanna in ‘War Room’

Rep. Mike Honda, facing a 2014 challenge from a well-funded fellow Democrat, is willing to sing for his supper – or, at least, to help fill his campaign coffers.

“Congressman Mike Honda is a master on the karaoke mic. Everyone from DC to California’s 17th Congressional District knows it. SF does too,” reads an invitation to the next fundraising event for Honda, D-San Jose. “Let’s celebrate Mike’s re-election effort by joining together for some fun, drink, and embarrassment on Friday, August 16th at Pandora Karaoke Bar in San Francisco! (If you don’t sing, don’t worry – come anyway!)”

The host committee includes former Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco; San Francisco Democratic Party executive director Ally Medina; and several others. Tickets for this “On the Mic with Mike” event cost from $45 to $1,000, but there’s no mention of how much you can pay to avoid listening to these folks sing.

Meanwhile, challenger Ro Khanna will be busy Friday night holding his umpteenth meet-and-greet at a private home in Cupertino; on Saturday, his campaign will be going door-to-door in Fremont, Milpitas, Cupertino and Sunnyvale.

Khanna is coming off a high-exposure week that started with his appearance on Current TV’s “The War Room:”

Posted on Thursday, August 15th, 2013
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 9 Comments »