Steinberg staffers will represent immigrant kids

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s staff counsel will help provide free legal services to undocumented, unaccompanied children arriving in California from Central America.

Steinberg, D-Sacramento, announced Wednesday that his policy director, Anthony Williams, and his senior policy consultant, Margie Estrada, will take part in the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Legal Assistance Project, in conjunction with the American Immigration Lawyers Association Southern California Chapter.

“These children face a daunting immigration process in a foreign legal system without any legal representation. A kid is a kid, and should be shown compassion regardless of where they were born,” Steinberg said in a news release. “I’m exceptionally grateful to my team and all other volunteering attorneys for taking unpaid time away from their families to ensure that these children receive fair and due process.”

Steinberg noted that many if not most of these children don’t speak English or understand the U.S. legal system, yet some have been requested to appear in courts, sometimes in other states, with less than 48 hours of notice. Those who fail to appear risk deportation orders and a swift return to the violent regions from which they originally fled, he said.

Heather Poole, chair of AILA’s Southern California Chapter, wrote to an immigration court that the timeline reduces the children’s chance to find legal counsel and so compromises their due-process rights.

“These unaccompanied children are in desperate need of competent immigration representation to ensure that every child’s case is thoroughly vetted before an immigration judge before a swift removal takes place to a potentially dangerous place where their safety will be at risk,” she wrote. “Due to political pressure and directives, the immigration courts are now prioritizing these cases on the court’s docket, which has led to fast hearings and some with little notice for many children who remain unrepresented by counsel, having no funds or connections. It is important, more than ever, that we have volunteers from the legal community participate in this humanitarian crisis to ensure that justice is served.”

Steinberg earlier this month led other lawmakers on a fact-finding visit to El Salvador and Guatemala, where they met with national leaders to discuss the gang, drug and other conditions that have led to more than 57,000 minors arriving at the U.S. border since October 2013.


Why did John Campbell oppose the STOCK Act?

The House voted 417-2 this morning to pass the STOCK Act, which clarifies that laws against insider trading apply to members of Congress, congressional staff, executive branch officials, and judicial officers and employees.

One of the two votes against it was John Campbell, R-Irvine. I asked why, and here’s the statement his office sent:

John Campbell“True insider trading is already illegal and those of us in Congress have and will continue to be subject to the law. This is an ambiguous bill that could potentially and unintentionally cause constituents and members of Congress to break the law by simply asking or answering a question about the prospects of federal legislation. It pretends to make something illegal that is already illegal and then compounds the problem by overreaching and creating unintended, yet very damaging consequences. I have serious concerns about the effects it will have on a constituent’s ability to interact with their representatives in Congress.”

Democrats supported the bill despite House Republicans having stripped out provisions including a requirement that people who collect financial information from Congress — and sell it to investment firms — should register like lobbyists and publicly disclose their activities, and a section that would’ve restored some elements of federal corruption law that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected last year. (The Washington Post has the full report on that here.)

The bill’s U.S. Senate version had both those provisions and was approved last week on a 96-3 vote. The House and Senate versions must now be reconciled in a House-Senate conference committee.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, spoke on the floor this morning to urge her fellow Democrats to pass the bill, but she also had some choice words for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., who fast-tracked the bill in a way that let him to strip out the Senate provisions but allow no amendments.


Meg Whitman hires veteran campaign staffers

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has added two GOP veterans to her campaign, one of whom used to work for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – of whom Whitman hasn’t been so complimentary.

Richard Costigan, Schwarzenegger’s former Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Affairs Secretary, will be Whitman’s deputy campaign manager for policy, leading the campaign’s development team. Costigan, of Granite Bay, also is a former GOP Legislative staffer former California Chamber of Commerce vice president and most recently has been senior director of state and government affairs for the law firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. I guess Whitman, who opposed Schwarzenegger’s May 19 special-election ballot measures and says the governor hasn’t gone far enough in cutting state workers’ jobs, isn’t holding that against Costigan.

And Tucker Bounds, who served as deputy communications director and national spokesman for McCain-Palin 2008, will be Whitman’s deputy campaign manager for communications. He also has served as press secretary for the western region for the Republican National Committee, and for former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore.


John Garamendi names campaign staffers

Though he may have been “checking out” the possibility of running for the 10th Congressional District seat that Ellen Tauscher presumably is about to vacate, Lt. Gov. John Garamendi seemed to be moving on with his 2010 gubernatorial bid today as he rolled out some campaign staff announcements.

San Francisco-based syndicated progressive talk-radio host Peter Collins, 55, will be the Garamendi for Governor campaign’s “messaging and communications” consultant; Collins, whose radio career stretches back 27 years, has done similar campaign work in the past for Nancy Pelosi, John Vasconcellos, Pete McCloskey and Michael Yaki.

And Brian Young — who from 1995 though 2000 was the Democratic National Committee’s information-services director — will be the Garamendi campaign’s chief techology officer, overseeing all online services and strategy. Young has worked for Sun Microsystems in the Bay Area and oversees, as well as doing technical consulting for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund in Washington, D.C.


Don Perata’s former staffers rise to support him

More than a dozen of Don Perata‘s former staffers have joined the former state Senate President Pro Tem from Oakland in urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to put the kibosh on a years-long federal corruption probe.

Lawyers for the former lawmaker and his son, Nick Perata, wrote in the past month to Holder, to the Justice Department’s Inspector General and to members of the House Judiciary Committee asking them to review the decision of Lawrence Brown — the Sacramento-based acting U.S. Attorney for California’s Eastern District — to examine evidence FBI agents have gathered on Perata and his associates over the past four years even though Northern District federal prosecutors in San Francisco decided not to indict.

“This ordeal has affected our lives, our families and our reputations. It has resulted in reporter calls at home at night, inquiries by neighbors, questions by our children,” the staffers’ March 18 letter says. “In an effort to cooperate with the San Francisco office, Senator Perata repeatedly waived his rights, thereby extending the investigation well beyond the statute of limitations. He — and everyone associated with him — are now being punished for cooperating.

“We all understand what it means to do a job that relies on public confidence. We understand that the FBI’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office have jobs to do and we respect that. But it would seem those jobs came to conclusion when the office in charge of the investigation declined to prosecute.”