Part of the Bay Area News Group

New White House interns have Bay Area ties

The White House today announced its Summer 2013 interns, and as usual, several either hail from the Bay Area or have attended school here:

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 Chief of Staff, 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 Presidential Correspondence, the Office of Presidential Personnel, 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 Office of White House Fellows.

Posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013
Under: Obama presidency | 1 Comment »

Romney finishes his tough week here in Bay Area

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney arrives in the Bay Area today for a high-priced fundraiser on the Peninsula, but only those paying to get in will know what he says there – no press will be allowed.

Unless, of course, someone surreptitiously videotapes this evening’s event at the Strawberry Hill estate on Redington Road in Hillsborough, as someone did a similar event this past May in Florida. That video, released this week by Mother Jones, included Romney’s now-notorious comments about roughly half the country:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”
[snip]
“[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Should guests at this fundraiser be frisked at the door for recording devices?

Anyway, tickets to tonight’s event cost $500 for young professionals, $1,000 for bronze level, $2,500 for silver level and $5,000 for gold level. Giving $15,000 gets two tickets to the reception as well as a photo for two with Romney, as does bundling $25,000 to $50,000.

Giving $50,000 gets four tickets, including two with preferred seating at a special reception, and four photo reception tickets; bundling $100,000 gets four tickets, two special reception tickets and two photo reception tickets; and a couple that gives $100,000 gets four tickets, two special reception tickets and four photo reception tickets.

Musician David Foster will entertain the crowd. The event is to start at 4:45 p.m., but Romney isn’t scheduled to arrive at San Francisco International Airport until shortly before 6 p.m.

The fundraiser is for Romney Victory Inc., a joint fundraising committee including Romney’s campaign, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the state GOP entities in Idaho, Massachusetts, Oklahoma and Vermont.

Posted on Friday, September 21st, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, campaign finance, Mitt Romney | 17 Comments »

Rep. Jackie Speier’s father has died

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, this evening announced the death of her father, Manfred (Fred) Speier; she said he passed away peacefully and surrounded by family on Monday at her Hillsborough home at the age of 91.

Jackie Speier“My father was the rock and foundation of my life. He was always there for me during my darkest days, and for the most joyous moments such as the births of my children. He lived a long and full life and was alert and sharp as a tack until the very end,” Speier said in an e-mailed statement. “On Saturday, just two days before he passed, he was regaling us with stories of his life. He was most proud of being a naturalized U.S. citizen, so much so that he requested to be buried in a simple pine box draped in an American flag.”

The congresswoman said her father was born in Germany, came to the United States after World War II and married Nancy Kanchelian in 1949. Speier’s mother passed away in February 2009; Speier’s brother, Eric Speier, lives in Elk Grove.

The lawmaker described her father as an incurable optimist who came to San Francisco and found a job within two hours, eventually working as a nurse, a short order cook, and a manager for a local, family-owned company. His work ethic and civic awareness were examples that set the tone for family life, she said.

A funeral mass will be held this Saturday at Saint Bartholomew Catholic Church, 300 Alameda de las Pulgas in San Mateo.

Posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
Under: Jackie Speier, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Report from inside Romney’s Bay Area fundraiser

The Chronicle’s Carla Marinucci, whom the Romney campaign selected as its pool reporter for tonight’s fundraiser in Hillsborough, has just filed her report. Here it is, verbatim:

Your pool was briefly ushered into Chateau Carolands interior,which was amazing: dominated by black and white tiles, Roman columns, statues, huge hanging tapestries, and a 75 foot atrium said to be the largest of any private residence in the United States.

But the event itself was held in a tent outside in the expansive gardens, designed to resemble those of Versailles. Guests sat on white chairs or stood to listen to Romney and speakers on a stage before a bank of American flags.

Event drew 300 people, with guests including Ambassador Howard Leach, Secretaries Rice and Shultz, and Mrs. Romney.
Not present were Meg Whitman, the HP CEO – who was a host of Ann Romney’s earlier “ladies luncheon,’’ or Carly Fiorina, a Romney endorser.

Tickets ranged from $2,500 to $50,000 for “Founder” status.

Guests were told that it was “the most successful event that we’ve had in California,’’ but campaign officials would not divulge a number.

The whole program lasted 46 minutes, including intros by Shultz and Rice, who both formally endorsed Romney.

Mrs. Romney also spoke briefly.

Remarks at length below:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney | 1 Comment »

See your House member’s 2011 spending

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, unsurprisingly has spent the most of any Bay Area House member so far in 2011 while Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has spent the least, according to Congressional spending data crunched by the Sunlight Foundation.

Here are the year-to-date spending numbers through Sept. 30, the end of the third quarter:

Nancy Pelosi — $1,131,048.95
Lynn Woolsey — $1,102.313.04
Anna Eshoo – $1,065,928.98
Jackie Speier — $1,053,889.75
Mike Honda — $1,037,247,79
Barbara Lee — $1,009.844.70
Zoe Lofgren — $970,630.03
George Miller — $950,707.76
Pete Stark — $941,132.97
Jerry McNerney — $838,944.86
John Garamendi — $780,133.41

Pelosi’s spending has been driven in large part by her $201,793.78 in the rent/communications/utilities category, which was about three times the lowest amount a Bay Area member spent in that area (that’s Pete Stark, D-Fremont, at $67,773.11). As reported last year, the rent on Pelosi’s district office – in the new federal office building on Seventh Street south of Market in San Francisco – is the House’s highest by far, at $18,736 per month.

Stark, however, has spent more than three times the next-closest Bay Area member on franked mail – $56,489.20 – and almost twice as much on printing and reproduction, at $53,887.27. That’s in keeping with Stark’s past practices, however: In 2010 he spent $100,518.11 on franked mail and $69,001.83 on printing and reproduction; in 2009, it was $165,554.82 on franked mail and $141,112.70 on printing and reproduction. As one of his constituents, I can attest that Stark loves sending mailers regularly to his district’s voters, updating them on issues and inviting them to town meetings.

Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, who is retiring at the end of this term, clocked in with both the highest personnel costs of any Bay Area member so far this year – $883,353.14 – and the highest travel costs, at $40,870.14. Garamendi has the lowest personnel costs ($573,073.70) while Stark logged the least travel costs ($7,369.66).

Posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 1 Comment »

Bay Area Dems urge probe of Justice Thomas

Five Bay Area House members were among 20 House Democrats who urged the Judicial Conference of the United States yesterday to refer U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Justice Department for an ethics probe.

Thomas has come under fire recently for apparently failing to meet personal financial disclosure requirements under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978. Specifically, he had indicated for years that his wife was receiving no income, when in fact she earned nearly $700,000 from 2003 through 2007 working for the conservative Heritage Foundation. Also, the New York Times reported in June that Thomas didn’t disclose his use of a private yacht and airplane owned by his friend, real estate magnate Harlan Crow.

“Based upon the multiple public reports, Justice Thomas’s actions may constitute a willful failure to disclose, which would warrant a referral by the Judicial Conference to the Department of Justice, so that appropriate civil or criminal actions can be taken,” Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY, the House Rules Committee’s ranking Democrat, wrote yesterday in a letter to Judicial Conference Secretary James Duff.

Slaughter wrote that Section 104(b) of the Ethics Act requires the Judicial Conference to refer to the U.S. Attorney General any judge who the Conference “has reasonable cause to believe has willfully failed to file a report or has willfully falsified or willfully failed to file information required to be reported.”

“Particularly as questions surrounding the integrity and fairness of the Supreme Court continue to grow, it is vital that the Judicial Conference actively pursue any suspicious actions by Supreme Court Justices,” Slaughter wrote. “While we continue to advocate for the creation of binding ethical standards for the Supreme Court, it is important the Judicial Conference exercise its current powers to ensure that Supreme Court Justices are held accountable to the current law.”

Among the letter’s signers were Reps. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; and Pete Stark, D-Fremont.

Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2011
Under: Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, John Garamendi, Mike Honda, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 4 Comments »

House passes Eshoo’s bill on religious minorities

The House today overwhelmingly approved a bill by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, to create a special State Department envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia.

The bill, HR 440, was introduced in January in the wake of increasing violence, targeted attacks and heightened discrimination against Christians in Iraq and Egypt, and persistent concerns in Afghanistan and Pakistan, among other nations. The House voted 402-20 today to approve it and send it on to the Senate.

Wolf co-chairs Congress’ bipartisan Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, named for the late congressman from San Mateo. Threats against religious minorities have been increasing in recent months, he said, and the United States has an obligation to speak out for the voiceless, to develop policies to protect and preserve these communities, and to prioritize these issues in broader U.S. foreign policy.

“The U.S. government needs an individual who can respond and focus on the critical situation of religious minorities in these countries whose basic human rights are increasingly under assault,” Wolf said in today’s news release. “If the international community fails to speak out, the prospects for religious pluralism and tolerance in the region are bleak.”

Eshoo, who co-founded and co-chairs the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus with Wolf, has long pressed the State Department to develop a comprehensive policy to address the unique needs of small, indigenous faith communities in Iraq that are being targeted for violence.

“In a time of partisanship and polarization, it’s gratifying when members from both parties can come together to address the humanitarian crisis that’s been unfolding in the Middle East, and has not been given the attention it deserves,” she said. “As the daughter of Assyrian and Armenian immigrants who fled the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, it’s terrifying to see history repeating itself in today’s Iraq. I’m hopeful that the special envoy created by this legislation will elevate the crisis of the Middle East’s religious minorities, giving them the diplomatic attention they so badly need and deserve.”

Reps. Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; and Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough – Lantos’ successor – are among the bill’s co-sponsors.

Posted on Friday, July 29th, 2011
Under: Afghanistan, Anna Eshoo, International politics, Iraq, Jackie Speier, Mike Honda, Tom Lantos, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

House members sound off on Obama’s nominee

As I reported yesterday, President Obama today nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created under last year’s financial industry reform law.

Obama reportedly had wanted Elizabeth Warren – who essentially conceived of and designed the bureau – to direct it, but Republicans threatened to filibuster her confirmation. A lot of liberals, including most of the Bay Area’s House delegation, had urged him to put her in the job as a recess appointment. Some of them spoke out today, even as Warren blogged forcefully in support of Cordray and activists launch a petition drive to draft Warren into next year’s U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts.

“East Bay consumers, families and retirees deserved the best protection from irresponsible Wall Street actions, and Elizabeth Warren is the best, hands down. But that was not to be,” Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, said in response to my query today. “And in the end, this fight is not just about her, it is about the fact that Republicans in Congress are determined to repeal the consumer protection policies we enacted in our Wall Street Reform law last year. Just look, now Senate Republicans are opposing President Obama’s nominee, Richard Cordray, proving that they want to let Wall Street run wild, again, despite the economic disaster that caused for middle class families and our country.”

honda.jpg“It’s deeply disappointing that Republicans blocked consideration of the inimitable Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but I have no doubt that Richard Cordray, who currently serves as CFPB’s director of enforcement, will fight equally effectively for consumer protections, protecting Main Street from the tentacles of Wall Street,” Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, said in response to my query. “On the heels of this country’s recent and devastating recession, I find it shocking that Republicans do not want a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to advocate for working families and consumers’ interests and find it appalling that they’re doing everything in their power to weaken or block it.”

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, issued a news release calling Cordray “a sound choice.”

“But make no mistake—American consumers are losing perhaps their greatest champion in Elizabeth Warren. She will always be the mother of the CFPB and its biggest advocate. The treatment she has received from Congressional Republicans has been disgraceful,” Speier said. “The 2008 financial crisis showed that American families need a cop on the beat when it comes to consumer protection around mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products. Instead of considering a bill to weaken the CFPB as Republicans will this week, they should support Mr. Cordray’s swift confirmation so he can begin this important work. Consumers have waited long enough.”

More after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, George Miller, Jackie Speier, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Obama presidency, Pete Stark, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Bay Area lawmakers weigh in on Weinergate

Anthony-Weiner-6-11-2011-AP-Photo.jpgGiven that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Steve Israel, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz all now have called upon Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign for sending sexually explicit photos and messages to several women via social networking sites, I thought it was time to see where the Bay Area delegation’s members stand.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough: She thinks he should resign. “I think it’s a reflection on the narcissistic nature of him as an individual, he doesn’t believe he’s subject to the same rules that the rest of us are and I think that’s very disconcerting,” Speier told NBC Bay Area News over the weekend. “I don’t think the American people should be served by someone who engages in ‘sexting’ with underage girls.” (Weiner and a 17-year-old Delaware girl both deny there was any inappropriate content in their online communications.)

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove: “The Congressman believes that this is a matter between Representative Weiner, his family, and his constituents,” spokesman Donald Lathbury said today.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont: “I think he’s gonna do what he’s gonna do,” Stark said today, noting he heard a call-in radio show the other day in which every New York caller said Weiner shouldn’t resign, as it hasn’t been shown that he broke any laws. “I think his area of the city has been well represented and they’d have to go a long way to find a member of Congress who could do a better job… The Democrats are trying to keep pure and that’s no easier for us than it is for the Republicans, nobody wants an ethics investigation.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: “My boss is recovering from surgery and will be unable to comment,” spokesman Patrick Boland said today.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose: “The Congressman is not commenting on this but if that changes I’ll be sure to let you know,” spokesman Michael Shank said today.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma: “Rep. Woolsey won’t have any comment on that story,” spokesman Bart Acocella said today.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.: Her office referred me today to a quote she gave to a television reporter recently. “Well, my reaction, quite candidly, is one of great sadness that a bright light of the House of Representatives was obviously deeply flawed with certain issues and that is all I have to say,” she had said; as to resigning, “I think that’s up to the members of the House and to him.”

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.: Spokesman Andy Stone referred me today to Boxer’s comment last Thursday in The Hill, in which she agreed Pelosi had made the right decision in calling for an Ethics Committee investigation and called Weiner’s conduct “horrible.”

Jerry McNerney’s office said he’s on a plane today and might not make the 3 p.m. deadline I’d set. I never heard back from the offices of Barbara Lee, George Miller and Zoe Lofgren.

UPDATE @ 3:04 P.M.: McNerney spokeswoman Sarah Hersh just called. “My boss is running incredibly late today and I don’t think I’m going to be able to get a response for you in time,” she said, promising to try again tomorrow.

Posted on Monday, June 13th, 2011
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Jackie Speier, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

East Bay prosecutor to roll out SF D.A. campaign

Five months after I reported here that Alameda County Assistant District Attorney Sharmin Eshraghi Bock was considering throwing her hat into the ring for San Francisco District Attorney, she’s formally rolling out her campaign tomorrow with help from a prominent name in Bay Area politics.

Sharmin BockRep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, will join Bock for a news conference Tuesday morning at Golden Gate University School of Law on Mission Street in San Francisco; National Women’s Political Caucus President Lulu Flores of Austin, Texas, is scheduled to attend as well.

Speier and Flores are expected to endorse Bock and “highlight the lack of women citywide elected officials in San Francisco,” Bock’s campaign said in a news release, while “family members of crime victims will discuss Bock’s work.”

Bock, 48, has been a prosecutor for 21 years and is a nationally-recognized expert in human trafficking who created and leads the Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit in Alameda County, prosecuting complex human trafficking cases with a focus on sexually exploited minors. She also directs a H.E.A.T. Watch program, providing communities, prosecutors, and police departments with the blueprint that has made Alameda County a role model in combating these crimes.

Other announced candidates for San Francisco District Attorney include George Gascon, the incumbent and former police chief, who was appointed to the job and subsequently endorsed for election by Gavin Newsom; and criminal justice expert and former police commissioner David Onek, whose political connections include his father – a former senior counsel to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – and father-in-law, former Massachusetts governor and 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

Posted on Monday, May 16th, 2011
Under: Jackie Speier, San Francisco politics, U.S. House | 3 Comments »