Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 3, 2014
Leland Yee consultant Keith Jackson released

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Keith Jackson, a consultant to suspended state Sen. Leland Yee who is accused of corruption and conspiring with him to pull off an international weapons deal, was released from jail Thursday evening.

Jackson and Yee were arrested March 26 as part of a massive FBI sweep of more than two dozen people accused of running guns, selling drugs and arranging murder-for-hire. Yee has been free on a $500,000 unsecured bond while Jackson has been in custody since his arrest.

A federal magistrate judge ruled today that Jackson "is not a threat to the community," according to a prepared statement from his lawyer, James Brosnahan of the Morrison & Foerster law firm in San Francisco.

"Jackson has no criminal record and no history of violence," the statement says.

A 137-page criminal complaint alleges that Jackson helped arrange a murder-for-hire, conspired to sell narcotics and sold several guns to undercover FBI agents. It also accuses him of scheming with Yee on several counts of corruption by taking money from undercover agents seeking political favors from Yee.

At a court appearance earlier in the day, federal prosecutor William Frentzen argued that Jackson should remain behind bars until his trial because of the seriousness of the charges against him, the Associated Press reported.

Brosnahan countered that his client is innocent, has no criminal record and has deep ties to San Francisco, the AP wrote.

Jackson and Yee served on the San Francisco school board together in the 1990s.

Federal authorities allege that Jackson was a consultant to a Chinatown group called the Chee Kung Tong, which is led by a one-time gangster known as Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and was being infiltrated by the FBI during its five-year investigation.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, April 3 to reflect Jackson's release from custody.

PHOTO: In this file photo taken March 16, 2011, Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, second from right, poses with several inducted consultants, including Keith Jackson, left, a former San Francisco school board member, at the Chee Kung Tong spring banquet in San Francisco. Associated Press/Sing Tao Daily

April 3, 2014
Jerry Brown signs bill expanding reach of FPPC

Brown_signing_bills.JPGGov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation expanding the power of the Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate or seek injunctions in campaign finance cases, his office announced Thursday.

The bill is one of several proposals pushed forward by lawmakers after outside groups poured millions of dollars into California's initiative wars in 2012.

Assembly Bill 800, by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, allows the FPPC to begin audits and investigations or to seek injunctions before — rather than after — an election occurs.

Gordon has said the bill would allow the FPPC to act more aggressively, "clearing up concerns about campaigns in real time," and the FPPC cheered the bill's enactment Thursday.

"Today California took a big step towards ensuring that campaign laws are followed before the election, when it matters," Erin Peth, the FPPC's executive director, said in a prepared statement.

The FPPC was at the center of a campaign finance controversy two years ago, probing a network of out-of-state groups that moved money to California to support Proposition 32 — a ballot initiative designed to weaken the political influence of labor unions — and oppose Proposition 30, Brown's initiative to raise taxes.

The California Political Attorneys Association opposed the measure, saying it failed to provide due process protections and is unfair to campaign committees and nonprofit groups under the FPPC scrutiny.

The bill also tightens restrictions around how "subagents," such as purchasers of campaign TV and radio airtime, report their spending.

While Brown signed one campaign finance bill, the author of another, Sen. Lou Correa, is seeking to revive his.

Correa, D-Santa Ana, moved Thursday to amend a bill that would have required nonprofit groups to identify their donors if contributions hit certain benchmarks. The bill was blocked last month by Senate Republicans who objected to an urgency clause allowing the bill to take effect before the upcoming election.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills in Sacramento on March 24, 2011 as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco look on. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

April 3, 2014
Anti-outsourcing resolution passes California Assembly

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On a party-line vote, the Assembly on Thursday affirmed a union-backed resolution urging lawmakers to resist contracting out public services.

The non-binding resolution stipulates that the Assembly "opposes outsourcing of public services and assets." Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, the measure's author, said public entities can cloud an otherwise open process when they contract out work, and warned outsourcing can lead to "rubber-stamped" contract awards with no discussion.

"Over the years, outsourcing has left taxpayers without transparency or accountability to where the taxpayer money is being used," said Gomez.

But opponents, including a number of Republicans who decried the measure, said it skews the contracting process by limiting choices that can drive down costs to the benefit of voters. Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, urged his colleagues to "stand for free competition," a message echoed by other critics.

"We represent all the residents of this state, not just public workers," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

The measure passed 42-22, with several Democrats refusing to vote.

Before the vote, business and local government organizations rallied against the measure, saying it would constrain their decisions and strain budgets. That a legally non-binding resolution caused such consternation demonstrated the issue's potentially broad impact.

"We contract with other local agencies for services" from garbage collection to maintaining public buildings, said Dan Carrigg, legislative director of the California League of Cities, faulting the Legislature for "one of the most ill-informed, poorly considered things they could possibly do."

PHOTO: Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D- Los Angeles listens during the first day of session at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 .

April 3, 2014
AM Alert: Geothermal energy in the hot seat

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Will geothermal energy get hot?

California's policymakers are constantly looking at energy innovations or renewable sources that will help the state meet state-required limits on greenhouse gases — just yesterday, Assembly members visited a low-carbon fuel summit — and a hearing today will examine the potential of geothermal, or heat energy trapped beneath the earth's surface. A Geothermal Energy Association report estimates that geothermal accounted for about 4 percent of California's energy mix in 2012 but could be tapped for far more.

Witnesses expected to testify include David Hochschild of the California Energy Commission, Edward Randolph of the California Public Utilities Commission and representatives of the California Independent System Operator and the Independent Energy Producers Association. Starting after session in room 3191.

VIDEO: With two FBI raids in the space of ten months, Dan Walters says Sacramento staffers are nervous about what's coming next.

THE NEWEST SENATOR: With all the coverage of the three state lawmakers indefinitely booted from Sacramento, it would be easy to forget voters also decisively added a senator. Former Assemblyman Mike Morrell will be sworn in this morning after handily winning Southern California's 23rd district seat Bill Emmerson abandoned back in October.

PENSIONER: His push to get a pension law overhaul on the 2014 ballot may be dead, but that doesn't mean San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has lost interest in the issue. Reed will be talking retirement accounts during a lunchtime Sacramento Press Club event at the Capitol Plaza Ballroom today.

PHOTO: One of renewable geothermal firm Calpine's 15 geothermal power plants in the Geysers region. The Press Democrat/Christopher Chung.

April 3, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: FBI follow-up shows Capitol on edge

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It's a sign of the times how people reacted to federal authorities returning to Sacramento on Tuesday, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.



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Capitol Alert Staff


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. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

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

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

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

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

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

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

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

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