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SEEN ON SUNDAY TV: Meet the Press: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) - Meet the Press; Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) - This Week with George Snuffleupagus. On "This Week," Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone plugged his legal defense fund. Any lawyer would say "don't go on Sunday shows" but they'll take those online donations that roll in. Lawyers everywhere are like "don't go on TV, but if you do, ask sycophants to send us money."
Can you imagine Bill Clinton asking for money for the BJ Defense Fund? At least I get to laugh these days.
Happy Sunday! I'm up early and tackling The Nooner while Meet the Press is on before what should be a beautiful morning at farmers market.
At this hour, Kamala Devi Harris (KDH) will formally announce her presidential candidacy at a rally at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. Tomorrow night in Iowa, CNN will host a town hall with California's junior senator, moderated by Jake Tapper. It airs at 7pm PST. I don't endorse and am open-minded, even if KDH went to Hastings and not King Hall.
Let's just say there is lots of people there and lots of merch is being sold. I don't know who I will vote for on March 3, 2020 in the California primary, but I ordered a shirt. To farmers market this morning, where I literally returned with 45 pounds of food, I wore a "fist-bump" HOPE shit, with the O being an Obama logo. It got many smiles, as does the Barbara Boxer hat I wear on occasion to flip people out. I don't know at what point I lost my Barbara Boxer shorts. I last had them in my undergrad years.
Anyway, KDH is a serious candidate who is the child of immigrant Jamaican and South Asian parents who is announcing her candidacy in the public space named for the first Japanese-American member of the Oakland City Council, who lived involuntarily in the Topaz War Relocation Center in Utah. Ogawa's daughter was born in "camp," but died at age 2. Yes, Japanese-Americans still call it "camp" as if it was a beautiful time in the mountains. Of course, it was prison in very remote areas. After the war, Ogawa was a gardener and nurseryman. A brilliant nod to history of California's Japanese-Americans.
If you read my Nooner on Friday, you know how I contextualize Kamala's candidacy with California history. Let's go back to Pete Wilson, who sought the presidency in 1996. Pete appointed me as the student representative from the University of California Student Association to the California Student Aid Commmission. He forgave my active role in Democratic youth politics, and accepted UCSA's recommendation. However, Pete's campaign used awful race-baiting of immigrants running over the border in his successful re-election campaign in 1994 against Kathleen Brown.
Those who know Pete were embarrassed. He saw an economy collapse and a broken tax system we live with to this day. He and his appointees championed eliminating affirmative action and cuts to social safety net programs on his path to a presidential bid. Let's just admit that they were aligned with the majority of California voters at the time.
Traditionally liberal Asian-Americans (i.e. Chinese Against Affirmative Action) were amond the biggest opponents of affirmative action, seeing the state's university policies affecting many of the statistically best achieving students. They were correct, but the real problem was the state not providing enough UC seats. Let's face it, building UC Merced didn't solve the issue for families who knew Berkeley and Los Angeles.
As Paul Mitchell said on Twitter yesterday, KDH has had a masterful rollout, wherever this campaign takes her. She has nothing to lose.
SRT: I finally got to the bottom of the "In suspense" status of the registration of Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (SRT) as a lobbyist. As I wrote before, he registered on January 17, with a subcontract to lobby for Los Angeles Unified School District. In the filing, he identifies that he met the threshold requiring registration on January 9 (based on hours in direct communication with elected legislators).
If you are a newbie, SRT is a former state Assemblymember, the son of former legislator and now LA County Supe Mark Ridley-Thomas (MRT). SRT resigned on December 27, 2017 with an effective date of December 31 for "health reasons." He indeed had health problems, but legislators generally don't resign for them. After all, they can finish the term with salary and benefits while the staff does the constituent work and other members jockey their bills. Critically ill members have been brought back in wheelchairs to cast critical votes, while others have ducked tough votes by claiming health troubles that weren't widely believed.
Everyone knew that, like others, he had pending harassment investigations.
Shortly after his resignation, he took a teaching job at USC's School of Social Work. Mind you, he didn't have a graduate degree, but supposedly is working on one. And, the department at USC received a $100,000 contribution from MRT's political action committee, also in 2017. The Los Angeles Times did great reporting on this. Are you following the *RTs?
SRT's time at USC has been controversial. In October, he filed a complaint with the US Department of Education against the university for disclosing to the Los Angeles Times that he was a student and employee. His complaint reported by the Daily Trojan was that such disclosure violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. His name is not currently listed in the school's faculty directory, so his status with USC is unclear.
Until January 1, 2018, former members of the Legislature were prohibited from being a registered lobbyist for one year following there term in office. However, that was changed by a bill voted on 40-0 in the State Senate and 78-0-1 in the State Assembly. AB 1620 changed Government Code §87406, the Milton Marks Postgovernment Employment Act, to provide that the prohibition against lobbying is for one year after the end of the term to which a member is elected, including a member who resigns.
Thus, the three members who resigned in 2017--Raul Bocanegra (November 27, 2017), Matt Debabneh (December 31, 2017), and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (December 31, 2017) are under the new post-government employment restrictions. They can't register to lobby until one year after the end of the 2017-2018 session. Under the California Constitution, the sine die date for that session was midnight November 30, 2018. So, registered lobbying can begin at 12:01am on December 1, 2019.
When I floated the story yesterday on Twitter, some questioned whether the new law would apply to these members who resigned before the change in law took effect. From my plain reading of the statute, it does. The law is about those eligible to register as a lobbyist. The test is thus conducted on the day of filing a registration. When SRT filed on January 10, 2019 §87406(b)(2) had been in the books for 374 days. He had been out of office for 375 days, which is over a year, but that's moot under the law at the time of his registration. The law asks if the person seeking registration has been a "Member of the Legislature" within one year of the adjournment of the sine die date of the legislation.
Clearly, the date for those elected in the 2017-18 session is December 1, 2019. Now, I don't think the FPPC should go after Ridley-Thomas for lobbying in violation of §87406. There are plenty of former members who actively influence legislation in the during the revolving-door restriction through strategy in a conference room and name on letterhead as "advisor." It is unlikely the state could prohibit this under the First Amendment.
Further, the FPPC's Lobbying Manual has not been updated since January 2017 and thus doesn't reflect the changes to §87406.
Oh, but our story gets better. The change in law was triggered by the a few members of both parties who resigned and took lucrative gigs and registered as lobbyists while the colleagues they were elected with in a current session were still in office. Because of freedom of association, the Legislature can't say that someone can't work for an association or bigwig lobbying firm, but it can statutorily define who can be a lobbyist.
The change in law was authored by, put down your coffee, Matt Dababneh. Dababneh resigned on December 31, 2017 following the revealing of the most graphic sexual harassment complaint. He sued his accuser for defamation, but the Assembly's independent investigator found that the incident in Las Vegas "more likely than not" did occur.
The bill was approved by the State Senate on September 7, 2017 on a 40-0 vote. It was approved in the State Assembly on a 78-0 vote on September 11, with one member not voting. (The 80th vote was the seat of Jimmy Gomez, who had recently been elected to Congress, before Wendy Carrillo was elected in a special election on December 5.) The bill was signed by Governor Brown on October 14 and thus became law on January 1, 2018.
The one member who abstained in the Assembly? Yes, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas. When I began this story, I assumed that he was absent for illness that day, as he indeed missed several sessions. However, the Assembly Daily Journal for that day shows that he was indeed present and voting on other bills. He purposely on the bill that every other member of the Legislature from both houses and parties casted an "'aye" vote.
Cover your ears, sensitive ones, but I can find no better phrase to describe the situation. Matt Dababneh cock-blocked Sebastian Ridley-Thomas from lobbying for Los Angeles Unified School district. SRT apparently knew that he would be resigning and then trying a comeback as a lobbyist. His resignation of December 31, 2017 likely wasn't to make it easier for a payroll cleark in the Assembly, but to escape the new §87406, but the law simply doesn't allow for that.
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