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THE NOONER for August 14, 2015
Happy Friday, the last day before the Legislature returns for its four-week end of the legislative year. I'm guessing that the Capitol and lobbying offices are pretty much empty. Argh, had a computer crisis this morning as the batteries in my Bluetooth trackpad died. Yes, #firstworldproblems to have go back to using a traditional mouse, but it actually was a real pain--things are backword and keeping track of the cursor is much harder. And, while would normally just switch to my MacBook Air and use its trackpad, it just doesn't work in this neck collar (can't look down). Fortunately, the local convenience store opened 8am, where I got to overpay for AA batteries.
Oh, and PG&E continues its gas line replacement next to my place, so I've had a jackhammer in my head all morning. Okay, I will stop whining.
AURAL PLEASURE: Back In Sac: California Politics Podcast - John, Marisa and Anthony talk the end of session.
Speaking of the end of session (or, technically, the year), I'll be doing the annual awards of most effective legislators and advocates. So, start thinking about your votes.
LAW AND DISORDER: The Fair Political Practices Commission's agenda for its August 20 meeting is out. In it, a is fine of 23,000 is proposed alleging that State Senator Jim Nielsen laundered a contribution through the Tehama County Republic Central Committee. The accusation is similar to one that cost State Senator Tom Berryhill $40,000 in fines for sending money through two central commitees in support of his brother, now-senator Bill Berryhill.
The FPPC is doing its job, so please don't think this is an attack on the commission. Rather, it's an attack on the state's campaign finance system.
Proposition 34 was approved by voters in November 2000 in response to the courts finding that November 1996 campaign finance measure Proposition 208 was unconstitutional, as the contribution limits were considered too low.
While limiting contributions to candidates at $4,200 (or $8,400 for primary and general) for legislative candidates, Prop. 34 allows contributions of $35,200 to political party committees. It further allows contributions without limits from political parties to candidates. See where I'm getting?
Sure, the FPPC bans not disclosing funds as "intermediary" if they are intended to go to another candidate. This is what caught up Nielsen and Berryhill, along with the fact that contributions exceeded the applicable contribution limits by the parties.
However, let's get serious. If you're a serious political player able to contribute $35,200 to a local or state politiical party, you also know darn well where that money is likely to be spent. We can pretty much all explain the top 5-10 races, and the players at the Assembly Speakers' Cup, which had a price tag of between $30,000 and $70,000 in 2008, are certainly in that knowledable club.
They just can't whisper in the ear of people affiliated with the party "I want $10,000" in a particular district.
I've evolved over the years, and now truly believe in getting rid of campaign contribution limits and requiring 24-hour disclosure of contributions over $100. This sham of running money through county and state parties and pretending like it's not going to be spent on candidates is ridiculous. They fewer pass-throughs is better for those concerned in money and politics. Knowing where a candidate's money is actually coming from (as they certainly do) is the most effective form of checks and balances.
For now, only the lawyers are benefiting from the current system.
Meanwhile, here are the totals of contributions to county central committees in 2014, along with the registered voters with that party and the "contribution per voter":
The amount per voter not seem significant, but remember that only a small percentage of voters contribute to political campaigns.
When I was chair of the Yolo County Democratic Party for five years, our fundraisers were the Annual Bean Feed (no joke!) and selling political memorabilia. Now they are getting $34,000 from labor unions, even though it's not really a competitive county.
Instead, money went to Tim Sbranti for Assembly ($40,000), Steve Fox for Assembly ($40,000), and Rudy Salas for Assembly ($30,000). None of the districts touch Yolo County. Meanwhile, Davis councilmember Dan Wolk was in a heated battle with Bill Dodd for Mariko Yamada's Assembly seat. Dodd is now running against Yamada for SD03.
CA46 (Santa Ana): If any of you were still skeptical that Loretta Sanchez will continue her U.S. Senate bid, yesterday candidate Lou Correa received the endorsement from Loretta's sister, congresswoman Linda Sanchez.
More Consider the Gov. Race in 2018, but Not the Senate in 2016 [Joel Fox @ Fox and Hounds]
FOLLOW-UP: On Wednesday, I told you dad's sister had a stroke and was in the hospital. Good news...she's home and there apparently is no permanent damage.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to League of Cities communications director Eva Spiegel and consultant Pam Woudstra! Weekend greetings to CFT's Kenneth Burt (Saturday). ACSA's Ashley Heatherly (Saturday), Davis city manager and former leg staffer Dirk Brazil (Sunday), Shallman Communications's Dave Jacobson (Sunday), and CA DOJ lawyer Maggy Krell (Sunday)
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