Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 25, 2012
Charles Munger drops another $13 million into ballot measure fights

Wealthy heir Charles Munger Jr. has ponied up another $13 million to kill off Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 tax increase and to pass the anti-union Proposition 32, according to new campaign finance reports.

The donations, made over the last two days, brings Munger's stake in the measures to some $35 million.

The money was sent to the Small Business Action Committee, the same organization that has received an $11 million contribution from an unknown Arizona-based group that has not disclosed its donors. That transaction has drawn interest from California's Fair Political Practices Commission, which went to court Thursday to compel Americans for Responsible Leadership to provide more documentation before the Nov. 6 election. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Munger's latest contribution comes as new independent polls show support plummeting for both Brown's tax measure and Proposition 32, which Munger supports. Proposition 32, opposed by more than $60 million in contributions from unions, would prevent labor from feeding its political accounts from employee payroll deductions.

Munger's sister, attorney Molly Munger, has contributed $32.4 million to the effort to pass Proposition 38, a rival tax increase measure. It, too, is flailing in the latest polls.

October 25, 2012
Sacramento judge sets hearing Tuesday on $11 million donation

A Sacramento Superior Court judge scheduled a court date for Tuesday -- one week before the Nov. 6 election -- to consider whether an Arizona-based nonprofit must provide transaction data related to an $11 million donation made this month.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission sued little-known nonprofit Americans for Responsible Leadership to obtain information related to the eight-figure check and determine whether the group violated campaign disclosure laws. The group donated $11 million to a business committee that is fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supporting a measure to restrict union dues collection, Proposition 32.

After a brief hearing in a packed courtroom today, Judge Barry Loncke asked both sides to submit court filings by Monday ahead of a hearing Tuesday morning, saying the court needed more time to consider whether Americans for Responsible Leadership must provide records.

October 25, 2012
VIDEO: Jerry Brown says slipping tax measure still has 'very good chance'

SAN FRANCISCO - With public support for his tax measure falling below 50 percent for the first time two weeks before Election Day, Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that the numbers are "a little puzzling" but that the campaign can still be won.

"I think we have a very good chance," Brown said at a press conference with business leaders here. "I'm not going to let anything slow me down between now and Election Day."

The Democratic governor's remarks follow the release last night of a Public Policy Institute of California poll showing support among likely voters for Proposition 30 fading to 48 percent, down from 52 percent last month. Forty-four percent of likely voters oppose the proposal to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

October 25, 2012
California group pushing online poker falls apart

An organization of tribes and card rooms formed two years ago to lobby for legal Internet poker in California has disbanded after spending more than a million dollars on the unsuccessful effort.

The California Online Poker Association announced today that it dissolved, a day after rumors began flying that it was disintegrating because of infighting among members.

"The decision was based upon insufficient progress within the Legislature toward the passage of an online poker bill," Ryan Hightower, the group's spokesman, said in a statement.

A handful of bills over the last three years have proposed regulating and taxing online gambling within California. But they collapsed after the state's gambling interests fought over who would profit from the new business.

October 25, 2012
Both sides use gas tax as a line of attack in Bera-Lungren race

lungrengas.JPGThis month's record-high gas prices continued to fuel attacks in the 7th Congressional District race today, as Rep. Dan Lungren again accused his rival of supporting policies that could drive up prices even more.

"The idea that all we need to do is raise taxes and drive down consumption is one that frankly may work with the elite in San Francisco, but it doesn't work very well with those of us in this district who have to live, to work, to take their kids to school, take their kids to soccer practice and things like that," the Gold River Republican said at a press conference at a Citrus Heights gas station today.

Lungren's attacks are based on comments Bera made on a telephone town hall held during the 2010 race between the two rivals. The Elk Grove Democrat said in response to a participant's question that increasing the gas tax to reduce use is "worth exploring." Bera says now that he has never supported such a policy.

October 25, 2012
Food labeling initiative Proposition 37 sliding in the polls

Proposition 37, which asks voters to require labels on genetically engineered food sold in California, is dropping in the polls as the well-funded opposition campaign pounds airwaves and mailboxes with arguments against the measure.

A USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll released today shows 44 percent of surveyed voters support the initiative, down from 61 percent in September. The same poll shows those opposing it growing from 25 percent to 42 percent.

Those results are similar to recent polls released by Pepperdine University and the California Business Round Table, which showed support this month at 48 percent, down from 67 percent in September.

The No on 37 campaign has raised $35.6 million, according to MapLight, while the Yes campaign has raised $7.7 million. The opposition is funded largely by companies that make pesticides and genetically modified seeds that contain pesticides. They are running multiple television ads arguing that Proposition 37 would raise grocery prices and that genetically engineered food is safe.

October 25, 2012
California redistricting may have blocked Dem hopes for majority

When California's new independent redistricting commission unveiled its maps for 173 legislative and congressional districts last year, Republicans were dismayed.

That dismay turned to anger upon publication of an article describing a clandestine campaign by Democratic political operatives to affect the makeup of the commission and its decisions, and public claims by Democratic leaders that they might pick up as many as eight more congressional seats in California as they sought to reclaim control of Congress.

Those expectations have been throttled back to a possible gain of two or three seats in California. The consensus among political odds-makers now is that Democrats have no chance of retaking Congress this year, in part because they can't count on big gains in California's 53-member delegation.

Those lowered expectations are confirmed in a new study by the liberal Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law of the nationwide impacts of redistricting. Its report implies that California's independent redistricting, in fact, may have doomed the Democrats' chances.

October 25, 2012
State watchdog agency sues shadowy Arizona campaign donor

The state Fair Political Practices Commission sued an Arizona nonprofit this morning as it tries to determine whether the group illegally cloaked donors behind an $11 million contribution now playing a pivotal role in two state initiative contests.

Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership gave $11 million this month to a business committee opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supportive of a measure that would restrain union dues collection, Proposition 32.

The state FPPC filed suit this morning, asking the Sacramento Superior Court to force Americans for Responsible Leadership to provide communications and transactions data between donors and the nonprofit. The matter is slated for a 2 p.m. hearing today.

October 25, 2012
Jeff Denham plans to sue Democratic committee over TV spot

Rep. Jeff Denham says he is going to court to get a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad attacking his record on veterans off the air.

The Turlock Republican announced yesterday that he will file a lawsuit against the national Democratic organization. His campaign consultant Dave Gilliard called that ad's claims that the congressman voted to cut military pay and increase congressional salaries" false and defamatory." Gilliard said he expects the lawsuit to be filed today.

The DCCC defended the spot in a statement: "It comes as no surprise that Congressman Denham doesn't want voters to know he voted to protect his own pay but not pay for the troops but he can't run away from his record no matter how hard he tries.".

Denham, a former state legislator, is facing a challenge from Democrat Jose Hernandez in the 10th Congressional District. Outside groups are spending heavily in the race ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 10:58 a.m. Oct. 25, 2012 to include the DCCC statement.

October 25, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown accuses foes of 'Orwellian' tactics

VIDEO: Dan talks about Gov. Jerry Brown, author George Orwell and "Orwellian propaganda."

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 25, 2012
AM Alert: PPIC poll isn't good news for Propositions 30 and 38

VIDEO: Dan Walters talks about George Orwell and "Orwellian propaganda."

Gov. Jerry Brown continues stumping today for his tax initiative, Proposition 30, as a new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds that support for it among likely voters has dropped below 50 percent.

The outlook for Molly Munger's rival measure, Proposition 38, is even less bright, as David Siders reported last night.

Dean Bonner of PPIC will give a rundown of the survey results at a luncheon talk today. Lunch will be provided, and there's no charge to attend, but the organization requests advance registration. Click here for more information and to register.

The event runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the CSAC Conference Center, 1020 11th St., second floor, in Sacramento.

DEADLINE: Today is the day that political action committees controlled by state candidates as well as PACs backing or opposing state candidates must file a campaign disclosure statement for the period of Oct. 1-20.

MANAGED CARE: Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, conducts an oversight hearing of the Assembly Health Committee assessing managed care program initiatives at the state Department of Health Care Services. Find it in the Capitol's Room 4202 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

PORTS: Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, heads a hearing of the Select Committee on Ports at the Port of Los Angeles administration building from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The topic is port energy.


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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