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BALANCE OF POWER: Note that I don't list district-specific predictions below, but rather use probabilities in toss-ups to make projections. Individual race ratings are on the ATC district pages.
NET NEUTRALITY: After following a weird path through the legislative year, Senator Scott Wiener's net neutrality bill SB 822 passed out of the Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee yesterday on a 9-3 vote, reports Jazmine Ulloa at the Los Angeles Times. The bill treats internet service provides are blind wholesalers, forbidding them from limiting access or slowing access to sites sought by end users. Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while three Republicans opposed it and one (Maienschein) did not vote.
Meanwhile, CapPubRad's Ben Bradford reports that Santa Clara County firefighters submitted a legal filing Monday alleging that Verizon throttled data access as they were responding to the Mendocino Complex fire. In yesterday's hearing, Verizon asserted that the slowdown had nothing to do with net neutrality, since it was the same slowdown that other Verizon users under the contract for "unlimited" service. The fire agency tried work with Verizon to explain that the data usage was because of the dispatch of firefighters to a declared emergency, and Verizon has responded that it was handled inappropriately because of a "customer service" problem.
A cell company with a "customer service" problem? Shocking, I tell you.
I'm sure that the issue will be fixed in the future, but it sure throttled the communication of Verizon's opposition to SB 822.
Why my unofficial rating on this district is WTF?!?:
Choose what "W" stands for, "what or who"...
Well, credit to Congressman Duncan Hunter, as he didn't hide from reporters yesterday. That said, he is full of crap. I believe that's a legal phrase. He also said that he was not resigning from his three congressional committees, which Speaker Paul Ryan said he would be removed from.
Duncan and Margaret Hunter each pleaded "not guilty" in a San Diego federal courtroom in the last half hour, which sets the stage for plea negotiations.
The SDUT's Andrew Dyer and Cristina Davis write "In a 15-minute back and forth with reporters, Hunter invoked a “deep state” conspiracy among “partisan Democrat prosecutors” as the reason why he and his wife, Margaret Hunter, were facing charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, falsification of records and aiding and abetting in the prohibited use of campaign contributions."
The filing with the United States District Court for the Southern District of California is by U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman, who was appointed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He's a 43-year-old La Jolla Republican who graduated from George Washington University Law School in D.C.
Dyer and Davis continue "But Hunter, 41, told reporters in San Diego on Wednesday, “I’ve never used my campaign for personal expenditures — ever.”
He also said "There's nothing illegal about being poor" answering an on-camera question that is certain to be in the editing bay of campaign commercial producers already.
Hunter has a congressional salary of $174,000 plus his wife had a "campaign manager" salary of $36,000/year. Median household income of jury pool: San Diego-$62,962, Imperial-$41,807. They live with his parents. Hunter has slept in his office like his dad did and like his fellow 106th class freshman and now-Speaker Paul Ryan. House Majority Leader and Speaker aspirant Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) also sleeps in his office.
Apparently, he hasn't read the indictment. If he wants to prove the 200 incidents wrong, he has that constitutional right. However, if only a few are as alleged, he has enough guilt to go behind bars, with his wife likely to as well. Dyer and Davis:
Reporters asked about items listed in the indictment going back to 2009, his first year in Congress.
“It’s the U.S. government trying to make you look bad,” he said. “They can make it look however they want to make it look, we all know this.”
Then Hunter said again, “I never used campaign funds for personal purchases — ever.”
The problem is that he admitted it previously and repaid on several occasions after the Union-Tribune and FEC started sniffing around. The biggest was $48,650.98 on November 4, 2016. On the filing, the payment was described as "REPAYMENT OF FUNDS AS DESCRIBED IN FORM." [2016 post-election report p. 18]
I can't find the description, but someone who "never used campaign funds for personal purchases — ever" doesn't just sell his house, move his family in with his parents, and write a check with that specific of an amount. That amount brought the cumulative repayments to $65,792.69 in the 2016 cycle.
However, even with those repayments, the DOJ alleges "The HUNTERS illegally converted and stole more than $250,000 in Campaign funds to purchase goods and services for their personal use and enjoyment." That was through 12/31/2016.
Undoubtedly, some of these are totally legitimate campaign expenditures or can be shoe-horned as such. A beer with a friend that talks strategy on how to vote can be arguably reasonably campaign related. (You can understand the easy slippery slope here.) Now, a $32.27 Uber ride at 7:40am on September 15, 2016 from Individual 18's (described as a "personal relationship" in the indictment) home to the office is a bit more difficult to explain the nexus to the campaign. Of course we only know the detail about the ride through the subpoena power of the DOJ and FEC.
That is one of the reasons this won't go to trial. Remember the federal jury pool would be from Imperial and San Diego counties. A change of venue is unlikely in this case. In the last 15 years, San Diego county residents have seen Congressman Duke Cunningham (R) serve time in prison for bribery and Mayor Bob Filner (D) step down after pleading guilty to false imprisonment and battery charges relating to a sexual harassment investigation.
Add in the alleged misrepresentations of spending money on personal items disguised as those for "wounded warriors" and the statement of by D. Hunter "tell the navy to go f*** themselves [no alteration in original]" to his Chief of Staff, puts the icing on the cake for the prosecution with a San Diego jury. San Diego has a very diverse economy now, but at its heart, it is still a Navy town.
Since 01/01/2017, the committee reports $37,107.13 in FOOD/BEVERAGE costs. Some of these are undoubtedly legitimate costs, although some, as I have written about previously, are suspiciously small to be for wooing would-be donors. Fundraising events are separately as "VENUE & FOOD/BEVERAGES." There have been 77 Uber rides totaling $1,507.88 during that period, and you can guess that investigators are looking at each of those.
In the 2018 cycle after the 2016 post-election report, $2,335.16 has been reimbursed by the Hunters although it's unclear which line items they were for from what's online.
So, there were lots of conversations among GOP insiders in California and DC about what to do. There is big regret that they didn't push out Hunter before the primary, and yes, most were aware of California's law about the inability to change candidates after the primary, unless they die 68 days before the general. This situation on top of the other headline issues is making the difficulty of either party in a first midterm much more challenging.
Retiring Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is awaiting the call to be positioned for a special election. However, many members on the moderate and right of the GOP conference want a new face. One person that several people are talking about is former Assembly and Senate Republican Leader and chair of the California Republican Jim Brulte. While he lives in Fontana 52 miles from the northern edge of CA50 in Temecula, residence is not required of for congressional candidates/members, and Issa doesn't live in the district either. Either likely could afford a residence in the district.
Brulte is currently a non-lobbying partner in California Strategies, a $6 million+ firm. It is not public information how much he receives as a partner. Brulte is 62; Issa is 64.
Those of us who worked with him in the two houses in Sacramento that he is term-limited in know how much he loves legislative machinations. He worked advance for George Bush (#43). He likes the national scene, but he lives in Fontana, which is in Pete Aguilar's (D-Redlands) congressional district. Redistricting in 2021 is unlikely to place Brulte's house in a Republican district, as the region has only been going in the opposite direction.
What Republicans don't want right now is for progressive Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar to be elected in November in what otherwise is a safe Republican district. This requires an elegant ballet. They need to secure a Hunter to win on November 6, even if he resigns before then. The only reason to keep him around at this point is for him to cast the deciding vote for Speaker. If he wins and resigns on or after November 7, it would trigger a spring special election, but also could lead to a 217-217 tie in the House. The odds of that happening are extraordinarily slim, but all possibilities are being mapped out and calculated.
A move toward Brulte as the apparent successor would give security to GOP and GOP-leaning independents in CA50 to vote for Hunter on November 6 to "keep the seat red." Hunter would then be expected to resign after the vote for Speaker is complete. Remember, Hunter has clearly documented allegations of insults to the military and veterans in a district where that is deeply harmful. A campaign for the GOP must be about the seat and not Hunter.
Sure, local San Diego current and past GOP electeds would like a shot in a special, but nobody has a profile like Brulte or can mobilize endorsements and money with the same ability. Brulte is also carrying the duty of Republican gubernatorial candidate and San Diego County resident John Cox. President Trump would be happy with a Brulte candidacy, and even in these tough days for POTUS, that likely means something in this district.
Of course, the ballot ballet is difficult to choreograph. But if Will Bailey can elect an actual dead guy to keep a seat open (The West Wing, season 4, episode 7), the GOP can elect an all-but politically dead guy to hold the seat for a few months. Perhaps, though, only if they can effectively communicate that plan to voters.
Sure, I've got more . . .
CA50 (East San Diego): For Fox&Hounds, longtime GOP consultant Tony Quinn tries to make sense of what's happening in Hunter's congressional district and takes a shot at the California Republican Party for not opposing the top-two primary early-on, which included the elimination of general election write-ins.
I'll agree that the elimination of write-ins is unfortunate, not only in the CA50 situation, but also for minor parties. However, there is a problem is it applies to not just write-ins but also vote-by-mail ballots. The problem is we don't know how to write anymore. I sign a few checks for endorsement before deposit a few times per month and that is about it beyond scribbles with my finger on mobile electronic payment screens at farmers markets or a couple of meaningless loops on a meaningless restaurant credit card receipt.
In June, 67.7% of voters cast ballots by mail. For those of you who cast ballots, you remember (hopefully) to sign the outside of the envelope. That signature must match your voter registration. I've written about this before, but years ago I was going to Vegas and taking out cash at my local bank branch. The teller said that my signature on the withdrawal slip didn't match that on their computer system. I opened that account in high school. I don't know what my signature looks like at the bank nor on my voter registration.
We will have an election soon that will be decided based on fights over whether a signatures "match" voter registrations. Solutions have been floated, but none have gathered momentum. The actual name of a write-in is generally determined by whether the intent of the voter can be discerned by the scribbles of the voter as the name of a qualified write-in or a "reasonable facsimile" of the name of a qualified write-in on the ballot. If there is only one Lay on the ballot, that's easy. What if there is a Lay and a Lam? Or a Hertzberg and a Herzberg (~140 registered)? And yes, there are three Robert Herzbergs registered.
Something to think about in the off season.
CELEBRATIONS! There was a great reception for Jonathan Lightman yesterday at Ambrosia. Lightman is retiring after 19 years with the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC) attended by colleagues, lawmakers, staff, and friends. Before FACCC, he served as director of governmental relations for the California chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. At NASW-CA, Lightman worked for Janlee Wong, the husband of former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada. Both attended last night's event.
While some often saw us on opposite sides in the community college world since he represented faculty and I represented college CEOs and elected trustees. Beyond that veneer, we are close friends and had great respect of each other as colleagues. While there were many constituencies involved in budget deliberations, there were only a few who gathered around conference room tables late at night and over weekends--frequently over pizza or Chinese food--to work out the most difficult budget years and present legislative leaders with a unified compromise. Make the best out of the worst could have been the theme over those years.
We also went through difficult personal times together and had the same challenges of being CEOs of complicated organizations. Far too often, I see newcomers taking an "us vs. them" attitude in this business. Advice: don't do that. You will need "them" at some point--whether for personal or professional support.
Jonathan said Friday that he intends four months off for a much-needed break, but then, "I'll be a free agent," with a trademark Jonathan grin.
Thank you Jonathan for working so hard to Keep the Doors Open for the last nineteen years.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Barry Broad, Ed Emerson, Dani Kando-Kaiser, and Karo Tossoian!
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Duncan Hunter Articles, Photos, And Videos - San Diego Union Tribune
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