Barbara Lee is running for Dem Caucus vice chair

Rep. Barbara Lee has launched her campaign to become the House Democratic Caucus’ vice chairwoman, asking her peers for support.

Lee, D-Oakland, official threw her name into contention for House Democrats’ fifth-highest leadership post with a letter Tuesday; Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, declared her candidacy for the post last month. Current vice chairman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., is limited to two terms in the post, and Democrats are expected to pick a new chairman and vice chairman soon after November’s elections.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“As Vice Chair, I will work to find innovative ways to champion the issues that are important to you, your district and our caucus,” Lee wrote in her letter to fellow House Democrats. “In 2013, I identified an opportunity to expand Democratic leadership on ending poverty in America. Together with our leadership, we launched the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity which works for the more than 46 million Americans struggling to make ends meet while developing pathways for these families into the middle class.”

Lee also touted her work on the Appropriations, Budget and Steering and Policy committees, as well as her stints as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, executive board member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and vice chairwoman and founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“In these roles, I have built diverse coalitions that advance our shared Democratic values,” she wrote. “Simultaneously, I have reached across the aisle to deliver bipartisan results, such as creating the bipartisan and bicameral HIV/AIDS Caucus and authoring or co-authoring every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation signed into law since 1998. The importance of listening to others with different points of view and new ideas has been critical in these and many other efforts.”

“It is an honor to work with you, side by side, to further our shared values and fight to ensure opportunity for all. I know firsthand the depth of your passion, talent and experience. It is this diversity of experience that is the backbone of our caucus,” she concluded. “I hope to serve you as the next Vice Chair and I look forward to continuing our discussions.”

Lee, 69, was first elected to the House in a 1998 special election to replace her mentor and longtime employer, Rep. Ron Dellums of Oakland, who retired mid-term. Earlier, she served in the state Senate from 1997 to 1998, and in the Assembly from 1991 to 1997.


Speier & Sanchez seek equality for female athletes

Two California congresswomen introduced a resolution Wednesday urging the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to provide the same pay for female soccer athletes as it does for male athletes.

Jackie SpeierRep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, and Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Lakewood, were joined by 33 original cosponsors, while U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced the resolution in the Senate.

The USA Women’s Soccer team clinched its third World Cup victory July 5 – the most-viewed soccer series in U.S. history, attracting more viewers than the NBA finals, the World Series and the men’s World Cup, the lawmakers note. Yet women’s soccer players still make 40 times less than their male counterparts, and the USA Women’s World Cup team received four times less for winning than the men’s World Cup team was paid for losing in the 2014 tournament’s first elimination round.

“Whether you’re a soccer mom or a starter on the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, women in our country deserve equal pay,” Speier said in a news release. “I’m proud to introduce this resolution demanding that FIFA ensure our champion women’s team is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. This is the 21st century and we need to stop shortchanging women’s sports worldwide.”


Feds seek eight years for campaign embezzler

Federal prosecutors say Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee should serve eight years and one month in federal prison for having embezzled more than $7 million from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other prominent California elected officials.

Durkee, 59, of Long Beach, is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday in Sacramento.

“Over the course of approximately 12 years, the defendant misappropriated millions of dollars from clients, used the money for her personal and business expenses, and prepared false campaign disclosure reports to hide the theft,” says the sentencing memo prosecutors filed last Wednesday. “This sentence will reflect the seriousness of the offense, provide just punishment, and afford adequate deterrence.”

A restitution figure should be ready by Wednesday’s hearing, prosecutors wrote.

Durkee pleaded guilty earlier this year to five counts of mail fraud. Her plea agreement noted that the sentencing range would be from 11 years and three months to 14 years, but also that prosecutors would recommend the low end of whatever range federal probation officers came up with.

Besides Feinstein’s campaign, other victims included the campaigns of Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove; Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Cerritos; state Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana; and Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Anaheim. There were at least 50 victims in all, prosecutors said.


What Don Perata said about the FBI probe

With all the hubbub about the FBI taking evidence against former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata to federal prosecutors in Sacramento now that federal prosecutors in San Francisco have decided after four years not to file any charges, I figured I’d ask the Don himself when I saw him in court yesterday on an unrelated matter.

Perata said the FBI’s action, and Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown‘s agreement to review the case after his peers in San Francisco tracked it for years and then took a pass on it, “seems to be unprecedented,” something he chalks up to there being “nobody in charge” as the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys shift between administrations.

“It has to play itself out,” he said, noting he’s at least glad that federal prosecutors in San Francisco broke with tradition and actually told him there would be no indictment here; usually these things just die in silence. So far, Perata said, nobody at Justice or in Congress has responded to his attorneys’ letters asking for an investigation of this attempted change of venue.

What letters, you ask? These letters:

  • a Feb. 26 letter from Elliot Peters (the attorney representing Don Perata’s son, Nick Perata) to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder;
  • a March 4 letter from George O’Connell (Don Perata’s attorney) to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and committee members Zoe Lofrgen, D-San Jose, and Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood;
  • a March 11 letter from O’Connell to U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine; and
  • a March 11 letter from O’Connell to Brown and to U.S. Justice Department Public Integrity Section chief Eric Olshan.
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    House Dems want Perata probe leaks plugged

    The Los Angeles Times reported today that House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and committee members Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, and Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, wrote a letter July 31 to Attorney General Michael Mukasey asking that he investigate information leaks from the long-running and oft-publicized grand jury investigation of state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland.

    I just obtained a copy of the letter myself…

    “The timing of these leaks is particularly curious, given that Senator Perata is serving his final, and most critical, year in the Senate and is one of the most prominent elected officials in state office. Senator Perata is playing a key role in negotiating a solution to one of the largest budget crises in California’s history.

    “We ask that the Department of Justice take this matter seriously and open an investigation. In so doing, we do not take a position on the underlying investigation of Senator Perata, but we strongly urge that you take steps to ensure that whatever actions the Department of Justice feels it should take based on the facts are untainted by illegal leaks or whispering campaigns.”

    Sanchez chairs the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, and Lofrgen chairs the Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law Subcommittee.

    I spoke this evening with Josh Eaton, spokesman for the Northern California U.S. Attorney’s office, and Special Agent Joseph Schadler, spokesman for the FBI’s San Francisco Field Division; neither would comment on the letter (because, I suppose, even formally confirming the existence of such an investigation could be construed as exactly the type of leak the letter aims to plug). I left a message for Perata spokesman Jason Kinney; I’ll update if he calls me back.

    UPDATE @ 7:10 P.M. TUESDAY — “Given the Bush Administration’s well-documented politicization of the Justice Department, it doesn’t surprise me Congressional leaders would be interested in learning more behind the timing and motive of these leaks,” Kinney just told me. “I think it’s perfectly appropriate that they ask some tough questions.”


    Lee, Miller, Lofgren on Obama ‘truth squad’

    Hot on the heels of Barack Obama‘s rout of Hillary Clinton in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, the Obama campaign announced today it’s forming a “truth squad” of California supporters who’ll refute what they say are mistruths spread by Clinton’s campaign.

    miller.jpg“Yesterday we watched as the voters of South Carolina sent a clear message to America and voted for change,” House Education & Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, said today. “They rejected the divisive politics of the past and chose progress for the future. According to exit polls, 70% of South Carolina voters said the attacks leveled by the Clinton campaign were unfair. And despite weeks of misleading negative attacks, Barack Obama won because voters in South Carolina, like voters across America, wanted to bring this country together, and change the way business is done in Washington so we can finally stand up to the special interests and solve the problems that matter to ordinary Americans.”

    lee3.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who spent time phone-banking for Obama on Saturday at the Oakland campaign headquarters, said, “We’re here today because we know Californians are tired of the same divisive politics that failed in South Carolina. We are organized to make sure that the truth is shared with Californians and to respond to same type of negative attacks that the Clinton campaign tried, and the voters rejected, in South Carolina.”

    Take that, Bill and Hillary! (Um, and Ellen Tauscher and Lynn Woolsey, too!)

    Besides Miller and Lee, other California Truth Squad members include Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank; Assembly Majority Floor Leader Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles; state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles; San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris; and LA Federation of Labor Executive Secretary/Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo.