Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 18, 2011
See how much California congressional candidates raised

California's congressional hopefuls have been busy building their campaign bank accounts ahead of the 2012 elections.

Reports tallying how much cash flowed in and out of the accounts during the most recent fundraising period, which ended Sept. 30, were due over the weekend. We've created a spreadsheet of the totals reported by campaign committees for incumbents and others planning to run on next year's ballot to aid our alert readers keeping track of the bottom line.

The campaign filings also shed light on the impact Democratic treasurer Kinde Durkee's alleged embezzlement scheme has had on some of her clients' funds.

Filings for U.S. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose full report has yet to be posted on the Federal Elections Commission's website, noted $4.7 million in losses, according to the Associated Press. Feinstein, who is up for re-election next year, has replaced those funds for now with $5 million of her own money. Filings by Reps. Linda and Loretta Sanchez and Susan Davis, all fellow Durkee clients, also disclosed six-figure losses in their campaign filings, the AP reported.

Durkee, who was arrested last month, has been accused by federal investigators and clients of stealing millions of dollars from accounts she managed.

Click here to open the spreadsheet in a new window. Full reports from the third quarter can be found on the Federal Election Commission's website.

October 18, 2011
Conservative activists propose initiative on illegal immigration

Conservative activists have submitted an initiative proposal targeting illegal immigration by imposing limits on financial aid and Medi-Cal benefits while requiring California law enforcement to work with federal immigration officials.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is responsible for preparing ballot language, received the proposal Monday from former state GOP chairman Tirso Del Junco, San Diego Republican Ted Hilton and Concord Republican Bill Siler. Proponents are calling it the "California Taxpayer Protection Act of 2012."

Hilton and Siler pursued a similar measure in 2009 but failed to gather enough signatures.

The proposal would prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving public financial aid in California, a hot-button topic after Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation this month allowing them to qualify for tuition help in certain circumstances. The initiative also would block driver's licenses -- which California does not issue currently to undocumented immigrants -- and require fingerprinting for Medi-Cal pregnancy services, with fingerprint reports relayed to the federal Department of Homeland Security.

It would also require that law enforcement officials transfer people they arrest to federal custody if those individuals have an "immigration detainer."

The measure can be seen here.

October 18, 2011
Two Sacramento political firms expand D.C. presence

Two political firms with ties to Sacramento are expanding their reach in the beltway through mergers and new office openings.

The Mercury public affairs firm announced today that it is merging operations in the nation's capital with lobbying firm Clark & Weinstock. Mercury's California offices, which are run by former Assemby Speaker Fabian Núñez and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger adviser Adam Mendelsohn, will continue to operate under the the Mercury flag, as will the firm's work in New York, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The D.C. group will now be known as Mercury/Clark & Weinstock.

Clark & Weinstock's client list boasts major corporations and political heavyweights in the financial, health and technology sectors, including eBay, Microsoft, General Electric and JP Morgan Chase. Its California-based clients include Napa Valley Vintners, the Dairy Institute of California and the Department of California Highway Patrol.

October 18, 2011
Pipeline safety bill passes and gets another push

A pipeline safety bill inspired in part by last year's explosion of an underground line in San Bruno gets another push today, hot on the heels of Senate approval. Politically, this apparent horse-after-cart timing deserves a look.

The hearing today by a panel of the Senate Commerce Committee was scheduled to help build momentum for the pipeline safety bill, backed strongly by Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein is the lead-off witness, in a hearing that also features the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board and others.

Monday night, on the eve of the hearing, Republican Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., dropped his one-man opposition to the bill. He secured an amendment in exchange; perhaps not coincidentally, he also avoided getting a black eye today.
The bill is supposed to improve safety on the nation's 2.5 million miles of oil-and-gas pipelines. It increases penalties for violations, requires automatic shut-off valves on new pipelines and makes other changes; over five years, pipeline operators will be paying $365 million in fees.

October 18, 2011
AM Alert: Can you collect more cans than a 5th grader?

Credit Assemblyman Roger Dickinson with promoting a friendly competition to boost canned-food collection for "Operation Gobble," which delivers turkeys to Sacramento families in need.

He's challenging the Legislature to do more for the cause than 5th grade classes at Bannon Creek Elementary School, Leonardo da Vinci School and Theodore Judah Elementary School.

You'll find collection receptacles in Room 3126 at the Capitol, Dickinson's district office at 915 L St. and at entrances to the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building.

The contest ends Nov. 17. You have a month, people.

Today's Sacramento Press Club luncheon features former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who is touring with tales of her state's economic difficulties and her new book on the subject. If you didn't sign up for the lunch, you can catch her appearance on The Daily Show here.

Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is on the road today, talking about health care reform at the annual convention of the California Alliance for Retired Americans. He'll speak at 10:45 a.m. in Long Beach.

What will climate change regulations mean for the state's agricultural industry? The chair of the bipartisan Legislative Rural Caucus, Assemblywoman Linda Halderman, R-Fresno, will hold a hearing on the subject today.

The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce.

Participants include Assemblywoman Shannon Grove and Assemblyman David Valadao, as well as representatives of the state Air Resources Board and local agricultural businesses.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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