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Report: Kamala Harris living well on campaign trail

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris has a penchant for pricey luxury hotels, cars and airfare, according to a report published Sunday by the National Journal.

Kamala HarrisHarris, California’s attorney general, is seeking the seat that U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer will vacate at the end of next year. She’s competing with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, and Republicans including Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, and former state GOP chairs Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette and Duf Sundheim of Los Altos Hills.

Per Harris’ latest FEC filing, her campaign had burned through 44 percent of what it has raised. That still left her almost $3 million in the bank (after accounting for outstanding debts), which is far more than Sanchez ($1.25 million) or any of the Republicans have. (UPDATE: Sanchez’s campaign notes that about half the money Harris has banked can’t be used in the primary while all of Sanchez’ bankroll can be, so they’re not really so far apart.) She also has close ties to President Obama’s fundraising network, so it’s unlikely she’ll run out of money anytime soon – or ever.

And the spending – including $18,000 on luxury hotels, $20,000 on car services, and 13 instances of air travel costing more than $1,000 each – still isn’t much in the context of the campaign’s spending overall.

Still, some Democrats are taking Harris to task for what looks like unseemly spending – not a good narrative for a candidate who declared early and tried to clear the field in order to project an aura of inevitability.

And it might make donors wonder what their money really pays for. She’ll attend a fundraiser Wednesday, Dec. 9 in Atlanta, hosted by Mayor Kasim Reed, for which tickets cost $500 to $5,400 each. Then she’ll be back in the Bay Area for a fundraiser Sunday, Dec. 13 in Richmond, hosted by the local chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, and others; tickets for that one cost from $75 to $5,400.

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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

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Best. POTUS pool reports. EVER.

While covering President Barack Obama’s San Francisco fundraiser Saturday, I had the pleasure of chatting with Gardiner Harris, White House correspondent for the New York Times. Later, as he covered the president’s Los Angeles fundraisers, he filed some of the funniest pool reports I’ve ever read.

Gardiner_HarrisFor the uninitiated, on any given day that the president travels, one member of the traveling White House press corps and one or two local reporters are designated as “pool” – which means those reporters, when covering events not open to the rest of the press, must file quick-and-dirty reports first to the White House for sharing with other outlets before they filing their own stories.

As someone who covers several presidential visits a year, I often feel like I know the basic stump speech by heart – so I have empathy for those reporters who must cover the president’s political events day after day, hearing the same basic speech over and over, yet still must consistently send out coverage. It can be a real grind, unless you have a good sense of humor.

So here are some excerpts from Gardiner’s dispatches today, an insight into life on the road covering the leader of the free world. My personal favorite is at 6:39 p.m.:

2:01 p.m.: “Marine One touched down at 1:23 in the riding pen of Will Rogers State Park, a place named for the man who once said everything is funny as long as it’s happening to someone else. We are en route to a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.”

2:05 p.m.: The pool is holding in the attic of a beautiful house in the Pacific Palisades while POTUS attends a Roundtable for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The committee has yet to inform us of the identity of our hosts, although we have just been told that [it’s] J.J. Abrams, director of the upcoming Star Wars movie. The attic has at least seven electronic keyboards, several acoustic and two electric guitars and what appears to be a high-end sound mixer. So the pool is jamming. Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post is presently crooning Barry Manilow’s, ‘Mandy.’”

3:05 p.m.: “Obama left the fundraiser at the home of J.J. Abrams, the Star Wars director, at 3:04 PST. The crudités were terrestrial; the view to the Pacific was not. Homes here on San Remo Drive have high hedges, steel fences, gated driveways and pixy dust. Abrams’ low-key Cape Cod-style home had, your pooler is afraid to admit, an understated elegance. Plus the rubber mask of the creature from ‘Alien’ attached to the face was creepily cool. A Secret Service agent had to ask Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post several times – the last time somewhat forcefully – to put down the mic and leave the premises. Your pooler is now comforting Jaffe, recovering from his glimpse of how the other 0.01 percent lives.”

3:32 p.m.: “The motorcade drove all of four minutes before arriving at the next event, reminiscent of Steve Martin’s car journeys in ‘LA Story.’”

3:42 p.m.: “Pool arrived at a home that backs up to a canyon, with glorious views of scrub hills and ocean. The half-acre yard has a large white tent shading some 200 white chairs from a blazing sun. There is not a cloud in the cerulean sky. This is a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in Pacific Palisades with about 200 supporters contributing up to $33,400 a person. Jamie Foxx will perform at the event. Mr. Foxx is on the grounds and posing for pictures with various guests at what appears to be an inner sanctum on the grounds.”

5:13 p.m.: “After about a 20-minute drive, motorcade arrived at 4:59 at the home of Michael Smith, a prominent interior designer who is married to the Spanish ambassador. The fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee has about 50 people who paid up to $33,400 a person to attend. Happiness research suggests that neither income nor large homes in beautiful locales with fabulous weather necessarily lead to happiness. Further, that experiences are often more valuable than possessions. Your Pooler is sure that no one at the fundraiser has ever laid down fully dressed in the king-sized bed in this guest room with two large photographers from major wire services and watched the Arkansas/Alabama game while POTUS spoke in the vast living room.”

5:57 p.m.: “In a large living room with 18-foot ceilings, windows that went almost floor-to-ceiling, a 10-foot floral display and several pieces of what appeared to be expensive art work, President Obama gave a stripped-down version of his stump speech prior to answering questions. Pool was ushered out before the questions. Mr. Obama’s light-hearted comments at the start of the speech had to do with his lack of a tie. He said that David Axelrod had instructed him during his first campaign to always wear a tie because ‘you don’t look old enough’ to be president. His gray hair now confirms that he is old enough not only to be president but to have been president, so he plans to wear fewer ties, he said. He then reviewed his administration’s successes in job creation, clean energy and other issues. ‘There’s almost no measure by which we’re not better off now than when I came into office,’ he said. But problems remain, most prominently the failure of wages and income to grow for ordinary Americans, he said. That has led to economic anxiety, he said. ‘And when people are anxious economically, the politics of fear oftentimes can override the politics of hope,’ he said. That anxiety can express itself in anti-immigration rhetoric and ‘in cheap jingoism and militarism and nationalism that’s not grounded in our national security interests. And it’s a dangerous path.’ He then complimented Democrats for making courageous votes and said he was not ‘intrinsically partisan,’ and he said he had sometimes been faulted by members of his own party for not being partisan enough. ‘But I will tell you at this moment in history, the choices are stark. And facts, evidence and values are on our side. And the other side has gone off the deep end. And what you’re witnessing in the House fight right now is that even deeply conservative folks are not considered ideologically pure enough and we would rather burn the House down than admit the possibility of democratic process that requires compromise.’ He said that voters must work hard. ‘If you let it pass, then you’ve got people in charge who don’t believe in climate change,’ he said. ‘So I feel as much urgency about this upcoming election as I’ve felt about any election, and I am not on the ballot.’ ‘I definitely need a Democratic successor because the alternatives we’ve got are not what I had in mind,’ he said.”

6:39 p.m. “Motorcade left the home of Michael Smith at 6:37 as the sun was setting and a warm amber glow settled over the exclusive Los Angeles enclave of Holmby Hills. The house POTUS left was valued at $12.5 million, was designed by Timothy Morgan Steele and is ‘not only a work of art but designed with the art connoisseur in mind,’ according to Zillow. The home is situated on a full acre plot. While such a home is certainly no guarantee of happiness, high incomes do tend to lead to greater expressions of satisfaction, research shows. Further, such obvious displays of wealth can lead to the development of envy in others, among the darkest of human emotions, according to some research. Envy occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other person lacked it, according to Wikipedia. Envy is a powerful predictor of unhappiness, research shows. Some cultures, such as that in the United States, discourage open expressions of envy. Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post had recovered somewhat in the motorcade over to Holmby Hills but, your pooler is sorry to report, experienced something of a relapse during the unique and remarkable experience of sitting next to a sizable doggie bed while shoeless photogs lay prone and fully dressed in a giant bed watching the Arkansas/Alabama game as great wealth almost bubbled around them. Your pool managed to recover Mr. Jaffe’s wallet and cell phone, and he is now lying peacefully in a pool van with a cold compress on his forehead.”

7:03 p.m.: “Marine One touched down at LAX at precisely 7 pm, as the dying embers of a Los Angeles sunset faded over the nearby Pacific Ocean. We are headed for AF1.”

7:11 p.m.: “Headed to Miramar Air Force Base, where I had early Saturday morning swim workouts in childhood. Oh, and ‘Top Gun’ was filmed, less importantly.”

8:40 p.m. “Air Force one arrived at Miramar Air Force Base around 7:50 pm. And the pool squeezed into two vans instead of three. Ten guys, some with heavy equipment, jostled into one of the vans in the desert air, instantly overwhelming the vehicle’s air conditioning. The motorcade sped through darkened suburban sprawl and desert scrub on Miramar Road to the 805 (local dialect demands use of an article prior to interstate numbers). We soon joined the 5, exited at Del Mar Heights Road, passed the Pumpkin Patch play area, and sliced into the heart of the exclusiveness of Rancho Santa Fe. Sun overexposure can lead to nausea, fever, headache and dizziness. But so can existential dread. These conditions can be difficult to distinguish in the Southland and on pool duty. Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post will need a differential diagnosis, but I suspect the labs will be equivocal. We arrived at the gated community at 8:25 pm alongside the sharpest looking crew of CHiPs I’ve ever seen. We have a lid.”

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Hillary Clinton is in the Bay Area today

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday and Thursday for fundraisers, but no public events.

Hillary Clinton 5-27-2015 (AP photo)The former U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Senator and First Lady is scheduled to attend a reception Wednesday evening at the Atherton home of investor and former Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly and his wife, Galavantier co-founder Jennifer Carrico. Tickets start at $2,700, but co-hosts are being asked to raise $27,000 and hosts are being asked to raise $50,000.

On Thursday morning, Clinton will attend a fundraiser in San Francisco hosted by Mayor Ed Lee, Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma, and Melissa Ma; the same ticket prices and hosting requirements apply.

Then she’s headed to Los Angeles for another fundraiser later Thursday at the home of Scooter Braun – Justin Bieber’s manager – and his wife, Yael; and to La Jolla for a fundraiser Friday at the home of Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his wife, Joan. Some tickets for the Los Angeles and La Jolla events went for $1,000 each.

Clinton does have one non-fundraising event planned on this California swing. She’ll hold a roundtable discussion Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles with home-care providers and consumers including members of the Service Employees International Union, which will livestream the event on its website.

“Once again Hillary Clinton proves that she’s more interested in hosting high-dollar fundraisers than discussing the issues that matter to everyday Californians,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said in an emailed statement. “And as she continues dodging questions on key issues and the mishandling of classified information on her secret email server, it’s no surprise that voters continue to find her not honest or trustworthy.”

Clinton raised money in the Bay Area in May and June.

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Hillary Clinton’s fundraisers and critics

As expected, donors at today’s Hillary Clinton fundraisers in San Francisco paid only $2,700 to get in but are being asked to raise the same amount from 10 friends.

Clinton’s first event is from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. at the home of hedge fund billionaire turned environmentalist Tom Steyer, with about 105 attendees. The second, with about 220 attendees, is from 4:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at the Century Club, hosted by longtime friend and supporter Susie Tompkins Buell, cofounder of Esprit and The North Face, and her husband, Mark Buell; an earlier invitation and previous reports had erroneously indicated this would be at the Buell’s home.

She has three similar events scheduled Thursday in Los Angeles, and one Friday at the Portola Valley home of eBay President and CEO John Donahoe and Eileen Donahoe, global affairs director for Human Rights Watch and former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

These events – into which no reporters are allowed – continue to build the “Hillstarters” program, a Clinton campaign aide said: a “bundling” program designed to involve more people and build the donor base. Attendees give $2,700, while hosts or co-hosts raise that same amount from each of 10 or more other people.

The aide said Clinton will speak to today’s attendees “about her commitment to being a champion for everyday Americans,” outlining her goals of “building the economy of tomorrow, not yesterday; strengthening families and communities; fixing our dysfunctional political system; and protecting our country from threats.”

Critics abound from several quarters.

“While Clinton doesn’t have time to answer serious questions about the numerous scandals plaguing her candidacy, she found time for three days worth of fundraising in California with the same wealthy liberal donors who gave to her family’s controversial foundation,” Republican National Committee spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said. “Everyday Americans are waiting for answers, and it’s very clear that answering their questions isn’t a priority to Clinton.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is sending its “Frostpaw the Polar Bear” mascot to a rally outside the event at Steyer’s home, in an effort to urge Clinton “to outline a bold plan for addressing the climate crisis, including opposing Keystone XL.”

“If we’re going to have a planet that’s livable for people and wildlife, we need Hillary Clinton standing with millions of Americans calling for an end to fossil fuel addiction,” Valerie Love, a campaigner with the Center, said in a news release. “Tackling the climate crisis ought to start with rejecting projects like Keystone XL followed by a visionary plan to dramatically reduce carbon pollution and steer us toward cleaner, safer energy sources.”

America Rising, a political action committee that gathers and spreads opposition research on Democrats, notes Clinton not only has yet to take a public position on the pipeline, but has dodged the question more than a dozen times. That includes a discussion in Canada at which she said she has “traveled around your country avoiding answering questions” on Keystone XL because she was involved in the decision-making process as Secretary of State.

And Californians for Energy Indpendence, a group funded by the oil industry, notes Clinton told Iowans last month that “there’s something wrong” when “hedge fund managers pay lower taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80 when I was driving here” – yet Steyer is a former hedge fund manager who used tax loopholes including offshore havens.

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Inside Obama’s Silicon Valley visit

Our story has been updated periodically throughout the day and evening, but here’s an amalgamation of the pool reports I filed to the White House while traveling with the motorcade today:

Air Force 1 arrived at Moffett Field in Mountain View, CA at 4:11 PM Pacific. POTUS was greeted on the tarmac by NASA Ames Research Center Director Pete Worden; Col. Steven Butow, commander of the 129th Rescue Wing; Mountain View Mayor Christopher Clark; and Sunnyvale Mayor Jim Griffith. POTUS then worked the rope line for a few minutes before the motorcade departed for Los Altos home of 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki, site of first Silicon Valley fundraiser.

Press couldn’t see or hear POTUS at any point during the stop at Wojcicki’s home. In the holding area, chicken wraps were spicy and talk quickly turned to the NFL draft. Motorcade departed at 6:15 p.m. en route to the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose, site of the second, larger DNC fundraiser of the evening; tickets for this one cost from $1,000 to $32,400. Uneventful drive, some well-wishers and onlookers on local streets in Los Altos; small crowd including some protesters (anti-Walmart, Keystone XL, etc.) in Cesar Chavez Park facing the hotel. Arrived at hotel at 6:38 p.m.

At the Fairmont, about 250 guests mingled and sipped wine or beer until Y Combinator President Sam Altman and Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer took the stage at 7:48 p.m. to introduce President Obama. Obama arrived at the podium at 7:50 p.m. to cheers and applause.

“It is good to be back in San Jose,” he said, thanking the two co-hosts and acknowledging Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, and DNC Finance Chair Henry Munoz.

“A lot of you worked on the campaign and on OFA,” he said, offering “a little update about where we are.”

“We came into office at a time when America was in dire straits and we have made enormous progress over the last five something years,” he said, citing the recovery of the auto industry, reduction of oil imports, college attendance up and high school dropouts down, and the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. “But for all that we’ve done, for the war in Iraq that we’ve ended ad the war in Afghanistan that we’re bringing to an honorable close,” for progress on climate change, “we know that we’ve got more work to do.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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