Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 4, 2014
Trio of California Republican senators seek Wright's resignation


Three Republican state senators called Tuesday on Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to hold a vote on expelling state Sen. Rod Wright and to make a "forthright effort to the senator requesting his resignation."

In a letter Tuesday to Steinberg, state senators Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, and Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, said the Senate cannot wait for Wright's appeal of his felony convictions on voter fraud and perjury charges.

"The fact remains that felony convictions have been handed down from a jury upon a member of the Senate," the senators wrote. "Whether an appeal is granted by a judge or not is irrelevant to the fact that a vote of this body should be granted by leadership and/or a forthright effort to the Senator requesting his resignation."

"The California State Senate is an esteemed body and should always conduct itself with respect to the public and reverence for the laws that we are entrusted with," the letter reads.

Wright office was not immediately available for comment on the senators' letter.

In a statement, Steinberg said it is prudent to let the process play out.

"As I have stated before, I believe that it is premature for this body to act before the verdict is accepted by the judge. An expulsion cannot be undone if the judge does not accept the verdict," Steinberg said.

February 4, 2014
Abel Maldonado to Charles Munger Jr.: 'WE need you!'

maldonadowalking.jpgFormer Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who abandoned his campaign for governor last month, is apparently less than satisfied with Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari, the two Republicans still standing.

"Chairman Charles T. Munger Jr., PLEASE run for Governor! WE need you!" Maldonado said Tuesday on Twitter.

Munger, the wealthy Republican benefactor and chairman of the Santa Clara County Republican Central Committee, has given no indication he is considering a run. But Maldonado is hopeful.

"I hope he considers it," Maldonado said. "He needs to step up."

Munger has poured tens of millions of dollars into candidates and ballot measure in recent years, while working to moderate the California Republican Party's platform. He helped the California Republican Party retire debt last year and supported ballot initiatives to give California's political map-making authority to an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.

"If you think about it, over the last eight years, no one's done more for reform and good government," Maldonado said. "He's a good man, he's got a great heart and he's got a great resume. And I think he'd be someone who would be doing it for the right reasons, and I hope he considers it."

Maldonado demurred when asked for his opinion about Donnelly, a Twin Peaks assemblyman, and Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official.

He said only, "I think Charles would be a great candidate."

Last year, Munger donated $27,200 to Maldonado's campaign, one of the relatively small number of major contributions Maldonado could muster. He withdrew his candidacy after struggling to raise money and enduring a series of campaign missteps.

The Santa Maria farmer said Tuesday he is content to be at his ranch.

"You know," he said, "there's no partisanship when I look at a herd of 25 cattle."

PHOTO: Republican Abel Maldonado walks to a news conference in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

February 4, 2014
Voting-rights activists sue Debra Bowen claiming mass exclusions

BOWEN.JPGVoting-rights advocates sued Secretary of State Debra Bowen for voter disenfranchisement on Tuesday, claiming she blocked from the polls tens of thousands of Californians who fall under new categories of criminal-justice supervision.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area on behalf of the League of Women Voters and other groups.

Under state law, people imprisoned or on parole for conviction of a felony are ineligible to vote.

The new categories, created under three-year-old realignment laws, include mandatory supervision and so-called post-release community supervision as alternatives to parole for certain lower-level offenders. In a Dec. 5, 2011 memo, Bowen provided just one scenario in which a person incarcerated for a felony could retain their right to vote.

In doing so "by administrative fiat, (Bowen) expanded this voting exclusion to include people who are neither imprisoned nor on parole but are on new forms of community supervision" created by 2011 realignment laws, the lawsuit states. "As a direct result of this unilateral action, more than 58,000 Californians have been wrongly disenfranchised."

"Voting is a civic duty, and prohibiting people who are living in the community under these new forms of community supervision from participating in this critical part of our democracy serves no useful purpose and is likely to impede re-integration and rehabilitation," the lawsuit states.

PHOTO: Secretary of State Debra Bowen, right, socializes with Laura Chick, the former city controller of Los Angeles during a reception hosted by California Women Lead at Park Ultra Lounge to express their support for women to run for office. The Sacramento Bee/Autumn Cruz

February 4, 2014
Sandra Fluke keeps congressional hopes alive with state filing

SandraFluke.JPGDemocrat Sandra Fluke is keeping her options open for a congressional run.

The women's rights advocate has filed the necessary paperwork with the state party to receive its endorsement for the 33rd district coming vacant with the retirement of Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman of Beverly Hills.

Fluke's filing was made public online by the California Democratic Party this week. Pre-endorsement conferences are set to begin on Saturday.

Abigail Gardner, a spokeswoman for Fluke, said Tuesday the purpose of the filing was to meet internal party deadlines to be considered for an endorsement if she were to run for the seat.

"That was a procedural thing she needed to do to keep her options open, but it is certainly not indicative that a final decision has been made," Gardner told The Bee.

Fluke is a former law student at Georgetown University whose congressional testimony advocating for birth control coverage drew the scorn of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. He apologized for his harsh phrasing. Fluke has campaigned for Democrats and appeared at various women's rights events, including a policy summit last month in Sacramento.

Former Los Angeles City Controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel and state Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, announced their candidacies following Waxman's announcement and were joined by Barbara Mulvaney, a former attorney for the United International Tribunal for Rwanda.

The list of possible entries, led by Los Angles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, is long and could change the dynamic of the field.

PHOTO: Activist Sandra Fluke campaigns for Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, then a candidate for Congress. The news conference on women's health issues was held in October 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling

February 4, 2014
AM Alert: Tim Donnelly launches statewide bus tour

Tim_Donnelly.JPGWith about $54,000 in hand to take on Gov. Jerry Brown, the $17 Million Man, in November's election, Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly launches a "Save California" bus tour today that will hit more than 40 cities over the next ten days.

His ride on the Liberty Express kicks off in Roseville with a rally and fundraiser at the Glass Guru window repair store at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are a relatively modest $99, or $150 for a couple — only a fraction of the thousands that Sacramento politicians typically charge for events.

Donnelly continues with a speaking engagement at the Placer County Republican Assembly's annual Lincoln-Reagan dinner, 7 p.m. at the Old Spaghetti Factory. He will also hit Monterey County, the Bay Area and the Central Valley, as well as more locations in the Sacramento area, over the course of the trip.

VIDEO: Tackling the gap in Internet use among California's black and Latino population could also help with the achievement gap in test scores, Dan Walters says.

BACK IN ACTION: After cancelling last Tuesday, state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, has rescheduled a press conference to discuss his resolution calling upon President Barack Obama to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants who are eligible to become legal citizens. This is the first piece of legislation Calderon has promoted since becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal last fall. The resolution now has seven co-authors, including Sens. Leland Yee of San Francisco and Lou Correa of Santa Ana. The press conference takes place at 8:30 a.m. in Room 3191 of the Capitol.

FARM BILL FOLLIES: Following months of debate over cuts to food stamps, Congress is poised to pass a long-delayed Farm Bill. At 10:45 a.m., California State Board of Food and Agriculture holds a panel discussion on the legislation, which would revamp agricultural subsidies and cut about $800 million from the food stamp program. The board's agenda also includes items on immigration and the drought. Today's meeting starts at 10 a.m. at the Department of Food and Agriculture's N Street headquarters.

INSIDER EXCLUSIVE: Subscribers to the Capitol Alert Insider Edition can get veteran political analyst Tony Quinn's take on key legislative races, as Republicans seek to cut into Democrats' supermajority status this year. In the first of five parts released this week, Quinn and reporter Christopher Cadelago looks at some of the most interesting Assembly races happening in Northern California. You can subscribe to the Insider Edition app for iPad and iPhone.

PHOTO: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, announces he's running for California Governor in Baldwin Park, Calif., on Nov. 5, 2013. The Associated Press/Nick Ut

February 4, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: California's Internet gap reflects broader disparities

computer_girl.JPGBoosting Internet use among black and Latino Californians could help with the "achievement gap" in test scores, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

PHOTO: Valeria Cuevas, 10, plays a learning game at River Oaks Elementary School on July 25, 2013 in Galt, Calif. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


Capitol Alert Staff

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. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

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

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

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

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

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

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