1

Rand Paul launches his presidential campaign

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul declared his presidential candidacy Tuesday.

“I am running for president to return our country to the principles of liberty and limited government,” Paul, R-Kent., said on his website, which features the slogan, “Defeat the Washington machine.” The website also features his first presidential campaign video:

Rand held a rally Tuesday morning in Louisville, and then is scheduled to start a campaign tour through the early-primary states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada.

Paul might have an edge up on other GOP contenders by way of his appeal to younger voters from a wider political spectrum, as well as to the “disruptor” culture of Silicon Valley. His outspoken criticism of government surveillance programs and the war on drugs help him draw huge crowds at his appearances across the nation, including the fervent, standing-room-only throng that welcomed him a year ago at the University of California, Berkeley. And Paul has a head start on building a ground campaign, given the many loyalists he inherited from his father, three-time presidential candidate and former congressman Ron Paul.

But libertarians still comprise a relatively small part of the GOP electorate, and some libertarians fault Paul for being too open to military interventions abroad, his opposition to same-sex marriage, and his opposition to marijuana legalization.

His website also features merchandise including the Rand Paul campaign eye chart (he’s an ophthalmologist, remember?) and the NSA spy cam blocker, a campaign-logoed doohickey to place over your laptop’s webcam. (Heh.)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who announced his own candidacy March 23, issued a statement saying he’s glad to welcome his friend into the primary race.

“Rand is a good friend, and we have worked side by side on many issues,” said Cruz, R-Texas. “I respect his talent, his passion, and the work he has done for Kentuckians and Americans in the U.S. Senate. His entry into the race will no doubt raise the bar of competition, help make us all stronger, and ultimately ensure that the GOP nominee is equipped to beat Hillary Clinton and to take back the White House for Republicans in 2016.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is expected to launch his campaign next week, and about 10 other potential GOP candidates are circling as well.

2

Charles Koch sponsoring ‘Liberty Hackathon’ in SF

One of the Koch brothers – billionaire benefactors of conservative causes near and far – is sponsoring a “Liberty Hackathon” later this month in San Francisco.

Democrats have clearly had an edge in attracting young tech-sector workers to volunteer campaign services, but the June 21-22 event at StumbleUpon’s headquarters looks like an attempt to engage and develop some of that talent on the right.

“Are you an entrepreneur or engineer with an interest in promoting economic freedom? Do you have ideas for market-based solutions that address big social problems?” the event’s website asks. “This hackathon will provide a diverse group of innovators the opportunity to build creative products that help to advance individual and economic liberty.”

This less-taxes, small-government-oriented event will be a competition among teams formed on-site to develop a web or mobile application in a weekend; cash prizes will be awarded, and top ideas will be considered for future investment. The judges will be entrepreneur and investor Scott Banister, formerly of IronPort, and Caplinked cofounder and CEO Eric Jackson, author of “The PayPal Wars.”

It’s being bankrolled by Charles G. Koch, the co-owner, chairman and CEO of Koch Industries. He and his brother, David Koch, have funded a variety of libertarian and conservative organizations and campaigns.

Oddly enough, it’ll coincide with the much bigger Netroots Nation gathering of liberal techies that same weekend in San Jose. Perhaps one group will ditch its hacking long enough to go t-p the other?

3

Voter #s: Dems a smidge up, GOP a smidge down

Democrats made a tiny gain in recent months while Republicans continued a long, slow slide in new voter registration numbers released Monday by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

Monday’s figures show the state’s Democratic registration at 43.93 percent as of Feb. 10, up a fraction from the 43.66 percent stake the party held just before November’s election. Republican registration dropped to 28.94 percent as of Feb. 10 from 29.36 percent as of Oct. 22. And the trend toward nonpartisan registration leveled off somewhat in recent months, going from 20.94 percent in October to 20.86 percent in February.

In the last two years, the percentage of voters registered with the Democratic Party decreased by 0.1 percent and voters registered with the Republican Party decreased by 2 percent. The number of registered voters with no party preference has increased by more than 259,000 during the same period.

A few minor parties made minor progress in the past two years – American Independent registration rose from 2.43 percent to 2.64 percent and Libertarian registration rose from 0.54 percent to 0.61 percent – but they as well as the Green and Peace and Freedom Party will find it increasingly hard to get much attention and retain their ballot statuses under the state’s newly implemented top-two primary system.

Overall, 75.7 percent of eligible Californians are registered to vote – down from 76.7 percent as of last October, but up from 72.8 percent at this time two years ago. A total of 18,055,783 Californians are now registered to vote – an increase of 869,252 since the last off-year report, but down from the raw-number high of 18,245,970 in the fall of 2012.

“Voter registration often dips in an off-year when counties update voter rolls following a general election, but the good news is registration is still up by about 3 percent from this time two years ago,” Bowen said in a news release. “I built online voter registration, in part, to make it easier for the 25 percent of Californians who are eligible to register to vote but have not. It’s now easier than ever to participate; so if you haven’t yet registered to vote, or if you moved and need to re-register, fill out an application online right now.”

By law, statewide voter registration updates must occur 60 and 15 days before each general election, and 154, 60 and 15 days before each primary election. One update is published in each odd-numbered year with no regularly scheduled statewide election.

7

Green, Libertarian VP candidates to visit Bay Area

The veeps are coming, the veeps are coming!

No, not Biden and Ryan – Honkala and Gray. Just as the Green and Libertarian presidential candidates barnstormed the Bay Area a few weeks ago, their running mates will be in town next week to meet the masses.

Green vice presidential candidate Cheri Honkala, an advocate for the homeless from Philadelphia, from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday will be at Silicon Valley De-Bug, 701 Lenzen Ave. in San Jose, joined by hip-hop artists and community educators DLabrie, Rahman Jamaal of RonDavoux Records, and Metafizix.

On Monday, Honkala will be at a voter awareness month rally at De Anza College in Cupertino from noon to 2 p.m., and then from 4 to 5 p.m. she’ll attend a screening of “Brooklyn Castle” at Youth Uprising, 8711 MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland, co-hosted by the Hip Hop Chess Federation. After that she’ll take part in a radio panel discussion hosted by Davey D, and she’ll finish the day with a rally and fundraiser at the headquarters of Berkeley Green mayoral candidate Kahlil Jacobs Fantauzzi from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at 1551 University Ave. in Berkeley.

Libertarian vice presidential candidate Jim Gray, a drug reform activist and former Orange County Superior Court judge, will speak at 6 p.m. next Thursday, Oct. 25 in the Oberndorf Event Center at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, 641 Knight Way on the Stanford campus.

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson and Green presidential candidate Jill Stein will take part, along with other third-party candidates, in a debate at 6 p.m. PDT Tuesday in Chicago. Most TV networks are ignoring the event, moderated by Larry King, but it will be streamed live on the Internet at Ora TV, Russia Today, and the Free and Equal Elections Foundation.

20

New voter data: ‘no party preference’ still rising

Nonpartisanship continues to rise in the Golden State, according to California’s latest voter registration data.

As of September 7, a total of 17,259,680 Californians are registered to vote, representing 72.6 percent of eligible Californians, up from 69.8 percent this time four years ago.

“As Californians hear more about the important issues on the November ballot and as we approach the October 22 deadline to register, those numbers will continue to go up,” Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a news release announcing the new data. “Filling out a voter registration application online or on paper takes just a few minutes, and I expect to see tens of thousands of new California voters this presidential election season.”

Of Californians registered to vote, 3,672,229 chose no party preference – a new all-time high. The previous record raw-number high of unaffiliated voters was 3,654,608, reported in June.

Here’s the registration breakdown (with Sept. 2008 figures in parentheses for comparison):

  • Democrat – 7,458,915 – 43.33% (7,101,442 – 43.91%)
  • Republican – 5,197,177 – 30.11% (5,227,489 – 32.32%)
  • no party preference – 3,672,229 – 21.28% (3,151,369 – 19.49%)
  • American Independent – 434,438 – 2.52% (333,609 – 2.06%)
  • miscellaneous – 210,583 – 1.22% (107,605 – 0.67%)
  • Green – 109,488 – 0.63% (116,334 – 0.72%)
  • Libertarian – 94,620 – 0.55% (78,935 – 0.49%)
  • Peace & Freedom – 59,232 – 0.34% (54,989 – 0.34%)
  • Americans Elect – 2,998 – 0.02% (n/a)
  • Friday’s report reflects data gathered 60 days before the November 6 General Election, with updates to voter registration rolls in California’s 58 counties including the removal of registrants who have passed away, moved out of state, or have been determined to be ineligible to vote, as well as the addition of new registrants.

    The deadline to register to vote in the November 6 general election is October 22. The last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot is October 30. Californians can check their voter registration status online, and as of this week can register to vote online as well; paper voter registration applications are available at sites including U.S. post offices, public libraries, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and county elections offices.

    2

    Convicted former candidate hit with $10.2 mil tab

    While former cigarette mogul Ned Roscoe – who placed 34th in a field of 135 in 2003’s gubernatorial recall election even while he was busy defrauding a bank – prepares to start serving a five-year federal prison term next Monday, a federal judge has hit him and his father with a $10.2 million restitution bill.

    Roscoe, of Fairfield, was convicted in February 2011 of all 28 counts federal prosecutors had filed against him: one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and to make false statements to Comerica Bank, 13 counts of bank fraud, and 14 counts of false statements to a bank.

    Benicia-based Cigarettes Cheaper! at its peak had almost 800 retail stores nationwide and $1 billion in annual revenue. After a month-long trial, jurors agreed Roscoe from August through November 2003 had directed company accountants to inflate the company’s weekly borrowing base reports of inventory submitted to Comerica Bank, eventually inflating the value of the company’s inventory by more than $16 million. He did so to get more money from Comerica through Cigarettes Cheaper!’s $21 million line of credit and to avoid a pay-down on another, $10.7 million credit line.

    The jury also agreed that evidence showed Roscoe and his father, John Roscoe, 82, conspired to defraud Comerica Bank and make false statements to the bank; the elder Roscoe pleaded guilty in January 2011, and eventually wound up with a sentence of five years of probation with one year of home detention. And Ned Roscoe directed a company accountant to falsely inform Comerica Bank in late November 2003 that the cause of the $16 million in inflated inventory was due to clerical or accounting errors, his jury found.

    Ned Roscoe was sentenced in February, but not before prosecutors had filed a memo asking the judge to order the Roscoes to pay more than $27 million in restitution: the $16.1 million outstanding principal balance on the company’s loan, plus $10.9 million in accrued interest.

    On Monday, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte ordered restitution including $8,229,692.58 in principal, and $1,976,963.10 in pre-judgment interest, due and payable immediately; the order reflected that the bank’s losses were partially mitigated by the bank’s prior liquidation of the defendants’ collateral. Whyte further ordered that John and Ned Roscoe each make an initial payment of $5,000, plus no less than $2,500 per month until the restitution orders are satisfied. Ned Roscoe was ordered to pay $25 per quarter while serving his time in prison.

    On the plus side, Roscoe has the edge of knowing the value of a cigarette before becoming an inmate.

    He ran as a Libertarian in the October 2003 race to oust and replace Gov. Gray Davis. In a blog he maintained at the time, he said he was counting on the support of “this political base, formed first of smokers with many different political persuasions, united in the belief that we must respect the freedoms of others in order to have freedoms of our own, combined with others seeking sensible, realistic actions by a new Governor.”

    “I am optimistic, with the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces,” he wrote. “Government isn’t like business. Good government needs consensus. I can work with Legislators and officials to decide rapidly and to do what makes sense quickly. My sense of urgency comes from having customers to serve and bills to pay. My top priority is to improve the prosperity of workers without expanding the burden of government. That is, to do the decent thing.”

    He finished 34th in a field of 135, earning 2,250 votes (about .02 percent of all those cast).