Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 10, 2014
Lawmakers seek to change 'paradigm' of sexual violence on college campuses

sexual_assault.JPGCiting a campus culture that "stigmatizes survivors, not the perpetrators," state Sen. Kevin de León announced today new legislation that would require colleges and universities to adopt "victim-centered" response protocols and prevention measures for dealing with sexual violence.

"Sexual assaults are just too common and we need to fundamentally change that," the Los Angeles Democrat said at a press conference. "This isn't about boys being boys. This is about men, young men, teenage boys being sexual predators. There is nothing casual about this."

The bill, co-authored by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, and Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, would establish "affirmative consent" as the standard for determining whether consent had been given by the complainant in a campus investigation.

It would also develop policies to encourage greater protection and services for victims, as well as education and intervention in the broader campus community.

"It seems sexual assault is treated as an inevitable part of the college experience, and instead of fighting to change it, schools simply overlook it," Jackson said. "We're here to change that paradigm."

Lowenthal noted that one in five female college students will be sexually assaulted but fewer than half will report the crime, calling it a "crisis."

The legislators were flanked by several dozen young women who work on issues related to rape on their college campuses. Sofie Karasek, a junior in political economy at UC Berkeley, emphasized the need for procedures that do not re-victimize survivors.

Karasek said she was sexually assaulted two years ago and felt that she had to prove her credibility to university investigators after reporting the attack. She was one of nine students to file a federal complaint last year alleging that Berkeley had mishandled student reports of sexual assaults.

"I felt very disrespected and betrayed" by the investigation process, Karasek said. "I expected that from the police, but I didn't expect that from my school."

PHOTO: From left, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, gather with female college students to address campus rape. The Sacramento Bee/Alexei Koseff

February 10, 2014
Dan Wolk nabs Democratic endorsement for Assembly seat

wolk.jpgCalifornia Democrats running for state and congressional offices moved closer to securing coveted state party endorsements at meetings of grassroots officials this weekend.

In the Sacramento area, Democratic Assembly candidate Dan Wolk exceeded the threshold to receive a pro-forma endorsement vote at the state party convention next month. Wolk, a Davis city councilman and the son of Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, is running to succeed Democrat Mariko Yamada, D-Davis.

Wolk received the recommendation over a trio of Democrats.

"As a lifelong Democrat, I have always been dedicated to our party's ideals of justice, equality and opportunity," he said in an email. "These are the values that I work for every day - and the values I will take with me to Sacramento. The endorsement also means a lot for our campaign in terms of local support, grassroots activism and resources."

Others running in the 4th Assembly District are Napa Supervisor Bill Dodd, Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza and Napa Planning Commissioner Matt Pope. All are Democrats.

While there was no immediate recommendation in the 7th Assembly District, Sacramento City Councilman Kevin McCarty remains a contender for the endorsement at the state convention. Also in the race are Democratic Sacramento Councilman Steve Cohn and West Sacramento Councilman Mark Johannessen, the son of former GOP Sen. Maurice Johannessen.

In the 6th Senate District being vacated by Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg, neither Assemblyman Roger Dickinson nor Assemblyman Richard Pan, as predicted, were able to gather enough party unity to manage a primary endorsement recommendation. The fight moves to the convention.

In other notable actions from across California:

State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, was recommended for the party's endorsement in the closely-watched contest to fill the seat of retiring Rep. Henry Waxman of Beverly Hills. A representatives for former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel, said the delegate vote was motivated by a network at the state Capitol.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, will get the party's endorsement. DeSaulnier is running to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Rep. George Miller of Martinez.

State Sen. Ellen Corbett , D-Hayward, mustered enough support to block an endorsement recommendation for freshman Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell. Swalwell, formerly of the Dublin City Council, did get enough votes to possibly gain the party's backing at the state convention. (Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, who is challenging for Corbett's Senate seat, easily picked up the votes for an endorsement.)

Despite repeatedly being outraised, Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, seems to have nabbed the party's support over intraparty challenger Ro Khanna. Khanna, a former Obama administration official, is looking to extend the 17th district race to November under the state's new top-two primary system.

PHOTO: Davis City Councilman Dan Wolk. Wolk for Assembly

February 10, 2014
Sacramento lobbyist Kevin Sloat faces $133,500 FPPC fine


Lobbyist Kevin Sloat has set a new record in California, agreeing to pay the state a fine of $133,500 -- the largest ever for violating state laws that regulate lobbyists.

Sloat's agreement with staff of the Fair Political Practices Commission says he acknowledges hosting numerous political fundraisers that counted as prohibited campaign contributions, and arranging and giving gifts to California lawmakers in violation of state law. The state's Political Reform Act prohibits lobbyists from giving campaign contributions to officials they are registered to lobby, and limits gifts they can give to $10 a month.

"Contributions and gifts from lobbyists may influence an official to make decisions based on the interest of the lobbyist's clients, instead of, and potentially in conflict with, the interests of the public whom the official represents," says the negotiated settlement between Sloat and the FPPC, which became public today.

Sloat, who lobbies for the San Francisco 49ers among other clients, arranged more than $600 worth of 49er tickets for former Republican Assemblyman Jeff Miller of Corona and for Debra Gravert, chief of staff to Democratic Assemblyman Jim Frazier of Oakley, according to the agreement.

He also arranged for Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, to receive $420 worth of tickets to an NBA basketball game featuring the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers, the agreement says. Sloat acknowledged that his firm, Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates, bought a $52.36 lunch at the Esquire Grill for Joe Coto when he was a Democratic member of the state Assembly from San Jose.

The settlement lists 26 fundraising parties Sloat held for California candidates at his home in Sacramento between 2009 and 2012. The events benefited 37 current and former elected officials and political candidates, including the most powerful in California: Democrats Gov. Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez; and Republican leaders Sen. Bob Huff and Assemblywoman Connie Conway. He also held fundraisers for Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, the agreement says.

While state law allows lobbyists to host political fundraisers at their homes and offices, it limits the total cost of permissible events to $500. Sloat's settlement with the FPPC says he thought he was following the law by limiting his own expenditures for wine, liquor and cigars to $500. But the rule concerns the total cost of the event -- not only what the lobbyist spent -- and with catering, floral arrangements and other expenses, the events at Sloat's house exceeded the $500 limit.

Sloat issued a prepared statement on behalf of his firm, Sloat Higgins Jensen and Associates, saying it had "failed in our obligations to be as vigilant as possible in complying with state political reform laws."

"We take this matter seriously and have already put in place enhanced internal measures designed to prevent any future administrative violations. We regret these mistakes and look forward to developing the best compliance standards in the business," Sloat's statement says.

The Fair Political Practices Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposed fine at its meeting on Feb. 20.

February 10, 2014
VIDEO: GOP candidates talk regulation, education and the utility of a gun

kashkariforum.jpgNeel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly crossed paths Sunday.

Drama? None.

In brief presentations at a meeting of the California Federation of Republican Women, the GOP candidates for governor offered familiar remarks — Kashkari on jobs and education, Donnelly on jobs and government regulation — and each wrapped without mentioning the other.

Yet there are other, lesser-known Republicans who have also filed statements of intention to run, and one of them was given a spot in the speaking order right between the party's main acts.

Glenn Champ, who describes himself on his website as "a new breed of Christian soldier moving forward in the army of the Lord," told a story about two brothers, both of whom are tea party farmers who get audited by the IRS.

The one with a firearm did best.

"He says, 'Well, I asked that agent if I could record the conversation,'" Champ, of Tollhouse, told the audience in Rancho Cordova. "The agent said, 'Yes.' So I pulled out my 1911 recording device, cocked the hammer, and the agent said, 'I've made a big mistake. Please forgive the IRS,' and he left.

"Now that's the kind of candidate we need, somebody that's going to stand up to government and tell them, 'Hey, you're out of line.'"

PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari speaks at a meeting of the California Federation of Republican Women in Rancho Cordova on Feb. 9, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 10, 2014
AM Alert: Candidate filing period opens for June 3 primary

absentee_ballots.JPGAre you sick of the 2014 election yet? Too bad, because we're just getting started.

Though some campaigns have been ongoing for months, today marks the beginning of the candidate filing period for the June 3 primary. By March 7, we'll have a clearer picture of the candidate fields for California's 80 Assembly seats, 20 Senate races, eight statewide offices and four Board of Equalization jobs..

If you can't wait that long, then check out our Capitol Alert Insider Edition app. Last week, veteran political analyst Tony Quinn offered his take on the year's key legislative races, as Republicans seek to cut into Democrats' supermajority status this fall. All five parts are available as an Insider Edition exclusive. You can subscribe to the app for iPad and iPhone.

VIDEO: California is experiencing an eruption of corruption, Dan Walters says.

REMEMBERING THE PAST: As part of Black History Month, the Assembly's Black Caucus hosts a ceremony on the chamber floor at 9 a.m. recognizing "unsung heroes" of the Civil Rights Movement. Among those to be honored is Harold K. Brown, a former San Diego State University professor who fought housing discrimination and chaired the Congress on Racial Equality in San Diego. An exhibit is on display in the Capitol throughout the month of February.

CAMPUS CRIMES: State Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, is joining with the leadership of the Legislative Women's Caucus -- Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara -- to introduce legislation addressing sexual assault on college campuses. The bill calls for California schools to adopt victim-centered sexual assault response policies, strengthen the adjudication process and ensure confidentiality protections for victims, among other requirements. It will be announced during a press conference at 11:30 a.m. in Room 1190 of the Capitol.

YOUTH ADVOCACY: Current and former foster youth will be at the Capitol today to advocate for legislation that improves sibling visitation rights for children in California's foster care system. The California Youth Connection will be joined by state Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, for a rally on the west steps at noon before members head to meetings with their representatives.

CAPITOL STARS: A new awards ceremony debuts tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Sacramento State's Union Ballroom, as the California College Democrats hand out their inaugural Hall of Fame Awards. Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno, and Sen. Mitchell are among the honorees.

CELEBRATIONS: A belated happy birthday to Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, who turned 45 yesterday.

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 10, 2014 to remove a reference to Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner as part of the leadership group of the women's caucus. Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, is the chair of the group and is attending the press conference.

PHOTO: Yolo County registrar seasonal workers get buried in some of the 30,000 plus absentee ballots prepared for the Feb. 5, 2008 presidential primary election. The Sacramento Bee/Anne Chadwick Williams

February 10, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: California is experiencing eruption of corruption

MC_CALDERON_05.JPGWe're not New Jersey or Chicago, Dan says, but California politics are far from squeaky-clean.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

PHOTO: Senator Ron Calderon speaks to the media outside Senate chambers on June 10, 2013, at the State Capitol. The Sacramento Bee/Manny Crisostomo


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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