Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 25, 2012
Jarvis tells businesses to not let Jerry Brown 'cajole' them on taxes

Less than a week after Gov. Jerry Brown claimed widespread business support for his ballot initiative to raise taxes - including donations from big healthcare and oil companies - the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and California chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business urged business groups this afternoon to resist any effort by Brown to "cajole" them.

"We know that Governor Brown, just through the power of his office alone, can cajole and perhaps even threaten vulnerable businesses," the groups said in an open letter. "It is therefore not lost on us that, under certain circumstances, modest support to help the governor place his measure on the ballot might be viewed a lesser of two evils or, more likely, as an insurance payment. However, on behalf of citizen taxpayers and the small business community, we appeal to your sense of doing what is right for all of California."

The Democratic governor, who is proposing to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest-earners, has enjoyed a relatively favorable relationship with business interests since taking office, and he met with business groups last week in Southern California. The letter was released on the eve of an appearance by Brown before the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Brown spokesman Gil Duran cited favorable polling for the tax measure - including among Republicans - and dismissed as "a baseless accusation, a hyperventilation meant to generate headlines" the suggestion that business groups might feel threatened by Brown.

The taxpayers association and business federation said the higher taxes proposed by Brown would hurt California's already-shaky economy.

"We also would like to reiterate our belief that when citizen taxpayer groups, small business interests and major corporations stand together for the common good, we constitute a formidable force to prevent a further erosion of California's tax and regulatory climate," the groups said in their letter. "Therefore, representing citizen taxpayers and small businesses in California, we appeal to you and your members to do the right thing and oppose any and all proposed tax increases. As Benjamin Franklin once noted, we must hang together in order to avoid hanging separately."

January 25, 2012
Federal hearing in Kinde Durkee fraud case delayed again

A preliminary hearing in the federal fraud case against former Democratic treasurer Kinde Durkee has been delayed yet again.

The hearing date, which had been moved from early December to tomorrow at 2 p.m., has been rescheduled for the same time on Feb. 28, according to a document filed with the U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Durkee has been accused by federal investigators and her former clients of stealing millions of dollars from the campaign and nonprofit accounts she managed. The prominent Burbank-based treasurer was arrested in September and charged with mail fraud for allegedly misappropriating $600,000 from the campaign account of Democratic Assemblyman Jose Solorio. More clients have come forward as potential victims since her arrest, including U.S. Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who says $5 million was taken from her re-election committee account.

A court filing posted today said the delay was requested to give the government more time to sort through evidence collected during its investigation. Durkee, who managed hundreds of accounts, has been accused in criminal and civil court filings of frequently moving money between accounts as part of her embezzlement scheme.

"The parties stipulate that the arrest in this case occurred at a time before the investigation was completed, and that the case is complex given the number of clients of Ms. Durkee and bank accounts involved," the document reads. "The investigation has continued, a significant amount of materials have been acquired, and the government needs additional time to review, analyze and synthesize those materials."

Kinde Durkee hearing delay

January 25, 2012
Will GOP recruit 'prominent name' to challenge Feinstein?

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has yet to attract a top-tier opponent in her 2012 re-election bid.

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro signaled today that a high-profile GOP challenger to the 78-year-old Democrat could still emerge. He said a "number of people" have expressed interest in the race, with final decisions expected in the coming weeks.

"Right now, point blank, there isn't someone, a major name that has agreed to it," he said in an interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau.

"But I think her polls show that she is vulnerable, and we are hoping to find someone who will break out of the pack," he added. "But as of yet, point blank, I'm not going to snow you, we don't have someone who has made it clear, who is head and shoulders above the rest or a very prominent name."

Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez became the latest Republican to express interest in the race this week. Ramirez, who ran in the GOP Senate primary last year, announced yesterday that he is opening an exploratory committee and starting to raise money for a run.

Ramirez said that while he is "fairly called a long shot-challenger," he believes the new top-two primary system will help him in his effort to become the state's first Hispanic U.S. senator.

"Hispanic voters, Republicans and Independents understand faith, family and hard work," he said in a statement. "We should come together to uphold the values of freedom that make America great, but there hasn't been a voice to speak to and for each of these sides. It is a void I believe I can fill to put California back on the right track."

Other Republicans currently expected to run are Elizabeth Emken , an advocate for children with autism and 2010 congressional candidate, and Orly Taitz, an activist perhaps best known for her disproved assertions that President Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

January 25, 2012
Thanks for the memories, Arnold? Schwarzenegger stuff available for a price

Arnold Schwarzenegger's days as governor are long gone -- but not forgotten by political junkies, apparently.

Nearly two dozen mementoes of Schwarzenegger's two terms in the Capitol were available today on eBay, including a "Women For Arnold For Governor" pin with an asking price of $1.99 but no bids.

The most expensive item was an autographed photo of Schwarzenegger at the White House, priced at $425 or best offer.

A talking toy Schwarzenegger doll was available for $75, a Halloween mask, $19.99; an Austrian stamp bearing his likeness, $3; and a "Governator" button from his 2004 election, $6.99.

Other memorabilia included a traditional playing card featuring Schwarzenegger as a Jack, $4.01, with free shipping; a "Go For It Arnold" T-shirt, $15; and a kitchen magnet of the former governor standing at a microphone, $4.50.

January 25, 2012
Del Beccaro: GOP 'food fight' will help nominee against Obama

Will blue California be a battleground in the November presidential election?

While the Golden State will almost surely go for President Barack Obama in the general election, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro believes that the competitiveness of the race will force the Democratic president to raise -- and spend -- more money in California, diverting time and resources from other key states.

"It will look like a competitive race for a long time, and then I think in the last month things will slip away from Obama, and it's going to require him to spend money in places he otherwise would not want to spend," Del Beccaro said in an interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau today.

"I'm not predicting to you today that we're going to carry California, but I think (Obama) has trouble here, and I think that allows us to provide resources and do other things around the country that will eventually lead to his loss," he added.

Del Beccaro, who has not endorsed a GOP candidate in the presidential race, said he believes it is too early to tell who would give Obama more trouble in California. But the state's top GOP official said that once the "worst of their food fight" for the nomination is over, the battle-tested GOP nominee will be better positioned to defeat the president.

"One of the benefits of this intramural affair is that it forced the Republican candidates to get very definite on what their plans would be, whereas Obama going into the fall is not going to have a plan because his plan is, involves government spending and that's not going to be able to sell," Del Beccaro said.

"He'll have a hodgepodge of we want to do one, or two or three things here, or what you saw last night (during the State of the Union), but it's going to be vague. So I think the detailed plan beats the vagueness in a difficult situation," he added.

That "intramural affair" between GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich could extend through California's June 5 primary, giving the state's Republicans more sway in the nomination process, Del Beccaro said.

"If they continue this constant process of debates, then I think it's possible," he said.

Watch a video from Del Beccaro's interview below or check out our Capitol Alert's Facebook page for his answers to questions from our readers. Pick up tomorrow's Bee to read a Q&A with the party chairman.

January 25, 2012
AM Alert: Californians see clouds in the forecast for Capitol

It looks like Californians' optimism has its limits when it comes to state government.

Last January, 58 percent of Golden State residents thought that Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature would be able to work together to accomplish a lot in a year, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Now that number is at 44 percent, with 47 percent saying it's not gonna happen, according to PPIC's latest poll.

Meanwhile, Brown's approval rating has gone up among state residents, from 41 percent to 46 percent. The bad news is that trend is reversed among likely voters, slipping from 47 percent to 44 percent. Still, the governor is doing better than legislators -- 17 percent of likely voters approve of how the solons are doing.

As for the Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney leads among likely GOP voters in California, with 37 percent, followed by Newt Gingrich, 18 percent. Mind you, the survey was conducted before the South Carolina primary. Last month, Gingrich led Romney, 33 percent to 25 percent, among the likely voters PPIC surveyed in California.

The Bee's Dan Smith has details about voters' views of the state budget in this post. Find the full survey at this link.

Under the dome, a joint Senate-Assembly committee on public employee pensions looks at design options for hybrid pension plans, starting at 1 p.m. in the Capitol's Room 4202.

The Senate Rules Committee considers gubernatorial appointees, starting at 1:30 p.m. in Room 113, with Howard Schwartz, the deputy director of the Department of Personnel Administration, required to appear.

CALLING ALL QUESTIONS: Got something you'd like to ask California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro? Go to our Facebook page at facebook.com/capitolalert, and fire away. He's coming to the Capitol Bureau this morning for an interview at 9:30 a.m.

CSU PAY: California State University trustees are considering executive pay and compensation at their meeting today in Long Beach, and its chairman plans to propose a cap in response to pending legislation, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday. Democratic Sen. Elaine Alquist's Senate Bill 952 proposes codifying a 10 percent cap into law. Democratic Sen. Ted. Lieu -- whose Senate Bill 959 would limit campus presidents' salaries -- will be among those testifying. Other CSU-related measures include Democratic Sen. Leland Yee's Senate Bill 967, which would bar CSU trustees from hiking executives' pay in bad budget years or within two years of a tuition increase.

REALIGNMENT: Speaking of PPIC, its luncheon program today focuses on the fiscal relationship between state and local governments, with State President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway among the scheduled speakers. The deadline has passed, but you can read the agenda here.

WOMEN IN MEDIA: California's second lady, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, is a special guest tonight as the Crest Theater screens her documentary, "Miss Representation," about media portrayal of women. The screening starts at 6 p.m. after a 5 p.m. reception. The Legislative Women's Caucus and the California Commission on the Status of Women are sponsoring the event at 1013 K St., Sacramento.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This post has been updated to add mention of other CSU-related measures pending before the Legislature.



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Capitol Alert Staff


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

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

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com

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

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert. mmassimino@sacbee.com

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

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

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

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