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Gun-control recall effort seems to be in limbo

An effort to recall several California Democratic lawmakers from office because of their votes on gun-control bills last year seems to be on the back burner now.

“They’re not off the table, they’re still being considered, but there’s just a lot going on,” said Jennifer Kerns, who founded the nonprofit Free California last October. “No decisions have been made as to whether to move forward. … We’re still in sort of a wait-and-see mode.”

Tim Knight, Tim Donnelly, Jennifer KernsKerns, a political consultant now managing Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly’s gubernatorial campaign, was involved in last year’s successful recall of two Colorado lawmakers over that state’s gun-control legislation.

But California and Colorado are very different, noted Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, whose group was supporting the Free California effort.

The Legislature’s Democratic supermajority could too easily consolidate any recall elections with this year’s regular elections, thus negating recall supporters’ advantage of lesser total voter turnout, Paredes said. Also, California requires that recall petition signature gatherers be registered to vote within that specific district, making use of paid circulators much harder.

“We’re looking at the realities of politics in California, the realities of the electoral process,” Paredes said. “So we’re in a contemplative status.”

Free California in October had named as potential targets state Sens. Norma Torres, D-Chino, and Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista; Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton; and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles.

Kerns noted Wednesday that two of those districts – Hueso’s and Gonzalez – would’ve competed for attention with the San Diego mayoral election that just concluded this week; now that the mayoral contest is done, Free California might take a fresh look at unseating the lawmakers.

Free California’s Facebook page hasn’t been updated since October. As a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, it’s not required to disclose its contributors.

Though both Kerns and Paredes said the recall idea isn’t completely off the table, it’s hard to see how they can maintain momentum as more time passes since last year’s gun-control votes; petitions began circulating for the Colorado recalls less than a week after that state’s new bills were signed into law. And as this year’s gubernatorial and legislative races demand more attention, time and money, there’ll be less and less left for an effort like this.

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Donnelly hires seasoned campaign spokeswoman

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly today announced the addition of a familiar face to his gubernatorial campaign – veteran GOP press secretary Jennifer Kerns.

Kerns & DonnellyKerns, 40, comes to the Donnelly campaign fresh from her role in unseating two Colorado state senators in a recall election prompted by those lawmakers support of stricter gun laws enacted this year.

And Kerns and Donnelly were together at the California Republican Party’s convention this past weekend in Anaheim to roll out Kerns’ new 501(c)(4) group Free California, which “won’t rule out ‘Colorado-style recall elections’ should Gov. Jerry Brown sign the gun-control bills now in his desk.

“Jennifer brings to the campaign an aggressive style of communication that will help me communicate to millions of voters about jobs, the economy, and my plan for how we can do better in California,” Donnelly said in a news release. “Her relationships with the grassroots and with statewide media contacts will help me get my message out to every corner of the state.”

Kerns said she believes in Donnelly “and his vision for standing on principle to show Californians that we have a better way forward. I look forward to a robust debate about California’s economy and how Californians have suffered over the last four years under the failed policies of the Democrat Party. I also look forward to educating voters about Abel Maldonado’s failed record on tax increases and other key issues that are important to the Republican base.”

Donnelly, R-Hesperia, has made a name for himself as an outspoken conservative opponent of almost everything the Democrat-dominated Legislature does, but his campaign hasn’t gotten off to a hot financial start -it had only $27,418 in the bank as of June 30, and has reported only $10,000 in big-ticket donations (two $5,000 contributions) since then. Then again, Republican gubernatorial competitor Abel Maldonado recently had several staffers quit his campaign and in recent days has essentially rebooted his effort. Former Rep. George Radanovich of Mariposa recently said he’s considering a run, too.

Kerns served in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration and was communications director for the last campaign to ever elect a GOP official to statewide office – Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, in 2006. She went on to serve as Poizner’s department’s communications director during the workers’ compensation crisis and the historic California wildfires.

Kerns also has been a consultant to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association for almost five years, and was a spokeswoman for Proposition 8, the gay-marriage ban of 2008.

Named as the California Republican Party’s communications director in January 2012, Kerns took some heat two months later for suggesting that a female pundit who’d criticized Rush Limbaugh for calling a law school student a “slut” was herself one. Kerns and the state GOP parted ways shortly after that, although that might’ve had more to do with the party’s dire financial situation than with Kerns.

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Mirkarimi is asked to resign, but recall is on hold

Activists who had discussed a recall of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, who was convicted earlier this year of a domestic violence-related crime, instead have launched a website to gather petition signatures urging him to resign.

Fat chance.

Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi early this year after he pleaded guilty to false imprisonment related to a New Year’s Eve altercation that left a bruise on the arm of his wife, Venezuelan former telenovela star Eliana Lopez.

Mirkarimi spent much of 2012 fighting Lee’s effort to permanently remove him from office, through a lengthy series of San Francisco Ethics Commission hearings. The commission ultimately voted 4-1 that he had committed official misconduct, but four members of the Board of Supervisors voted October 9 to reinstate him. (Removing him would’ve required nine votes from the 11-member board.) After fighting that fight, it’s unlikely a petition will convince him to quit.

Nonetheless, political consultant Andrea Shorter today unveiled a website at which San Franciscans can add their names to a call for the sheriff to step down voluntarily.

Shorter, a member of the city’s Commission on the Status of Women since 2001 and a longtime advocate for women’s issues, last month had been talking about a recall campaign, which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and require organizers to support from more than 50,000 San Franciscans in order to get on the ballot.

Though the website sets a goal of 50,000 petition signatures, Shorter made it clear Wednesday that this is merely a means of building and gauging support, and not yet an actual recall effort.

“We’re interested in him hearing clearly what the interests are of San Franciscans right now,” she told reporters on a conference call, specifying that many city residents believe it’s inappropriate for someone who’s on criminal probation to lead a law enforcement agency. “Maybe he will heed that particular call, we will know in due time.”

Shorter had spoken at the Aug. 16 session of the San Francisco Ethics Commission’s hearing, calling for Mirkarimi’s removal. “This is an issue of governance, this is an issue of public turst and our ability as a city to make sure we provide every single citizen the utmost trust and confidence in all of our officials,” she said at the time:

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A roast of Gray Davis. No, really.

Former aides and advisers to Gray Davis are planning a 70th birthday celebration and roast in the former governor’s honor for Nov. 14 at the California History Museum in Sacramento.

Organized by Lynn Schenk, Garry South and Dan Zingale, the event will be MCed by former California Democratic Party chairman Art Torres.

A roast. Of Gray Davis. The mind fairly reels with possibilities.

To commemorate the governor’s tenure, they should brown out the lights several times during the party. Or make it a casino night, so you have to pay to play. Or have a dance contest, in which people will be judged solely on their ability to do the robot.

In related news, the remake of “Total Recall” opens this Friday.

(C’mon, readers, help me out here with your own ideas.)

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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).

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I guess it’s good we didn’t elect him.

Fairfield businessman Ned Roscoe, who placed 34th in a field of 135 in 2003’s gubernatorial recall election even while he was busy defrauding a bank, was sentenced yesterday to five years in federal prison.

Ned RoscoeRoscoe, 51, is scheduled to begin serving his sentence on March 21. His father, John Roscoe, 82, of Green Valley, was sentenced to five years probation with one year of home detention. U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte scheduled a March 5 hearing to determine how much restitution they’ll have to pay.

A jury last February convicted Ned Roscoe, a former owner and officer of Cigarettes Cheaper!, on 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 that both Roscoes conspired to defraud Comerica Bank and make false statements to the bank; the elder Roscoe pleaded guilty in January 2011. 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.

In a sentencing memo filed last month, federal prosecutors said they want Whyte 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.

Prosecutors asked Whyte to sentence Ned Roscoe to 14 years in prison, while a probation officer recommended 10 years. But in a sentencing memo filed this month, defense attorney Vicki Young had asked for a sentence of three years and 10 months, writing that “Ned Roscoe was not in any sense the ‘kingpin’ of a criminal conspiracy. The case
involves businessmen trying to keep the failing business going.”

Ned Roscoe 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).