Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

September 19, 2013
FPPC approves new rules for political bloggers

MaviglioFPPC.jpgBloggers and others who are paid to post political messages online are subject to new disclosure rules under regulations the Fair Political Practices Commission approved Thursday.

Campaign committees will now have to report who they pay to post "favorable or unfavorable" content on blogs, social media or online videos on their campaign finance statements, and report the name of the website where the content appears.

"The purpose overall is to let the public know that they can go compare what the campaign is paying for to what is showing up online," said FPPC attorney Heather Rowan.

"I think that's going to help people see through a lot of these names and/or alert them that there's maybe something they should look at, or take with a grain of salt," she said.

Another FPPC lawyer, Zackery Morazzini, said the new reports would help the public discern between genuine opinions and campaign material.

"What the commission's concern is, is people thinking they're reading a neutral posting when in fact it's the furthest thing from it -- the individual is getting paid to sway a voter one way or another," Morazzini said.

Democratic campaign consultant Steven Maviglio, who writes for the California Majority Report blog and has been working with the FPPC on the regulations for more than a year, said he was unhappy with the final product.

"The goal has always been righteous. Implementation is going to be an avalanche of paperwork that is unenforceable," he said.

"Technology is going to leave this regulation behind before the next election season begins."

GOP consultant Rob Stutzman saw it the same way.

"If that's distasteful to people that a blogger is paid to opine in a certain way, this regulation is not going to stop that," he said. "It just creates this ridiculous regulatory road block for basic communication like tweeting."

PHOTO: Steve Maviglio, a political consultant and co-publisher of a Democratic blog, speaks at the Fair Political Practices Commission meeting on Sept. 19, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

September 19, 2013
Ex-Speaker Fabian Nunez proposes to girlfriend of six months

nunez.jpgWhile vacationing in London, former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez proposed Thursday to Gabriela Dias, the Brazilian-born bathing suit model he's been dating since March.

Núñez's former spokesman Steve Maviglio said the engaged couple have not yet set a wedding date. Núñez and his wife, Maria Robles, filed for divorce last year, Maviglio said.

Núñez, a Democrat from Los Angeles, was elected three times to the State Assembly before leaving office in late 2008. That year, Núñez's family life was upended after his son, Esteban Núñez, was accused and later convicted in the stabbing death of a San Diego student. In a controversial move, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger shortened the sentence of his political ally's son in 2011.

Núñez is now a partner with the lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs.

PHOTO: Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Gabriela Dias. Courtesy of Steve Maviglio.

September 19, 2013
FPPC approves $40,500 fine for California Strategies firm

hickox.jpgThe California Strategies public affairs firm and three of its partners will pay a combined $40,500 fine for breaking the state's political ethics laws under a settlement the Fair Political Practices Commission approved today.

The commission voted 4-0 to approve the agreement made public last week that requires Jason Kinney, Rusty Areias and Winston Hickox to pay the fine, register as lobbyists and disclose their clients. In the agreement, the three well-connected Democrats admit they lobbied the Legislature and the Air Resources Board without disclosing themselves as lobbyists and filing disclosure documents, as state law requires.

"This is the first time that the commission has ever dealt with an issue like this, of shadow lobbying," said FPPC chair Ann Ravel.

"It's something that is very significant, and is part of our emphasis now on looking at more significant matters that impact the public trust. This is exactly that kind of a case."

The commission voted to approve the settlement over objections from environmental activists who said it doesn't go far enough in requiring California Strategies to disclose all its clients.

"We are particularly concerned that the failure by Mr. Hickox and California Strategies to disclose apparent lobbying on behalf of the Boeing company is not addressed in the decision," said Daniel Palay of Consumer Watchdog.

He alleged that Hickox, a former secretary of the state Environmental Protection Agency, used his influence at the agency to help Boeing get out of cleaning up a toxic site near Los Angeles called Santa Susana.

California Strategies declined to respond to the allegation or answer The Bee's question about whether the firm represents Boeing.

Boeing is not listed as a California Strategies lobbying client but the aviation company could hire the firm without publicly disclosing it for consulting work that does not meet the legal definition of lobbying.

Lobbying is defined by California's Political Reform Act, which says lobbyists must register with the secretary of state if they spend more than a third of their time or are paid at least $2,000 a month to influence state government decisions on behalf of a client. Once registered, lobbyists must disclose who's paying them to lobby - and how much.

Gary Winuk, the FPPC's chief of enforcement, said he had reviewed California Strategies' work for Boeing as part of his review of the firm.

"In our estimation, from what we were able to determine, there was not lobbying happening on that specific issue," Winuk said.

The FPPC's settlement with California Strategies requires Kinney to register as a lobbyist for real estate developer Focil-MB, which is managed by the Mission Bay Development Group in San Francisco; Areias to register as a lobbyist for Kaiser Ventures, a mining company trying to sell its land at Eagle Mountain in Riverside County; and Hickox to register as a lobbyist for investment company CE2 Carbon Capital.

PHOTO: Winston H. Hickox, former secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, is a principal with the consulting firm California Strategies.

September 19, 2013
Jerry Brown: From Plymouth to Pontiac to Schwarzenegger-era SUV

brownsuburban.jpgGov. Jerry Brown made his mode of transportation a point of interest when, as governor before, he sold his predecessor's limousine and rode around Sacramento in a blue Plymouth sedan.

When he returned to office in 2011, his car of choice was a 2008 Pontiac G8.

In recent months, however, the Democratic governor has appeared less and less frequently in the Pontiac and more often in a more traditional choice, a 2008 black Chevrolet Suburban.

Before climbing into the SUV after an event in Oakland on Monday, Brown lamented the amount of work his old G8 required, saying, "There's a reason why Pontiac went out of business."

Brown's office confirmed today that the Pontiac has been retired. It had racked up more than 100,000 miles and "was at the end of its serviceable life," Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said.

"There were a number of persistent service issues with the vehicle, and it got to a point where it was necessary to no longer use it," he said.

Westrup said the Suburban was purchased in 2008 and used as part of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's detail.

brownredcar.jpgWestrup said it is only being used "as a temporary vehicle while a permanent replacement for the Pontiac is considered."

Brown suggested Monday he has an idea what he might like. Among a handful of electric vehicles at an event in San Francisco that day was a red Smart car.

Brown admired the convertible and said, "This looks like a good gubernatorial limousine."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters in front of his state-issued SUV in Oakland on Sept. 16, 2013 (top), after looking at electric cars at an event in San Francisco earlier in the day. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

September 19, 2013
AM Alert: FPPC votes on high-profile cases

ravel.jpgIt's judgment day at the California Fair Political Practices Commission for a few high-profile political operatives who have admitted to unkosher practices.

We brought you news already of the cases against a trio of prominent employees of California Strategies (Jason Kinney, Rusty Areias and Winston Hickox) and against Chris Hansen, the Seattle financier and would-be part owner of the Kings whose clandestine money machinations handed Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg an easy villain in the push to hasten the Kings arena building process. On top of those comes a late filing fee assessed on lobbyist Barry Broad.

FPPC staff have already negotiated the terms of settlements with the parties involved, but today those decisions come to a vote. Stay tuned to see how things shake out: Capitol Alert will have someone on the scene.

VIDEO: After months of trying to finagle favors from lawmakers, Dan Walters says, the Sacramento lobbying universe now turns its powers of persuasion on Gov. Jerry Brown.

ABORTION ACCESS: In the growing mound of bills on the governor's desk sits Assembly Bill 154, a measure that would allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives, and physician assistants to conduct certain types of early abortions. Abortion advocates will meet on the Capitol's west steps at 11 a.m. to deliver Brown a petition urging him to sign the legislation.

COVERED CALIFORNIA: Less than two weeks remains in the countdown until open enrollment in Covered California, the state's federally inspired health insurance marketplace. Board members will provide updates on how things are proceeding today, including progress on creating the website that will serve as the portal for uninsured Californians seeking coverage. From 10 a.m. at the East End Complex Auditorium.

WATER WAYS: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan public charm offensive continues with a panel talk in San Francisco tonight. Elucidating the plan's ins and outs will be California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council, Karla Nemeth of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and David Sunding of the UC Berkeley Water Center. From 6 p.m. at the PG&E conference center.

STUDENT AID: Implementation of the California Dream Act for undocumented students and of the middle-class scholarship, a coveted project of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, are among agenda items for a meeting of the California Student Aid Commission today. From 1 p.m. at 11040 White Rock Road in Rancho Cordova.

PHOTO: FPPC Chair Ann Ravel is pictured on Dec. 5, 2012, in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Renée C. Byer.

September 19, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Gauging Gov. Jerry Brown's bill decisions

With the fate of many bills now in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown, Dan says the governor will discover friends and allies he didn't realize he had.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.


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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