Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 6, 2014
Kamala Harris' GOP challenger favors pot legalization

Ronald_Gold.jpg.JPGRepublican Ron Gold, the presumptive challenger to Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris, wants California to legalize and tax marijuana and use the proceeds for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Gold, a Woodland Hills lawyer and former deputy to Attorney General Evelle Younger, told The Bee that decriminalizing pot would decrease the costs of enforcing victimless crimes and allow the state to direct more resources to serious criminals.

"I just think that police resources are so few, and we have so much to do, that going after someone who is having a joint in West Hollywood is about as useful as having another Carter's Little Liver Pill," Gold said.

"An adult is an adult," he added. "If you use those things - and you're stupid - we can't bar stupidity."

Harris is an overwhelmingly favorite to win reelection in November. A rising star of the Democratic Party, she's received 53 percent of the votes tallied so far in the seven-candidate primary election Tuesday.

Gold's stance puts him at odds not only with Harris but other high-profile Democrats like Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Gold favors adopting a version of Colorado's law.

"Basically, I am to the left of Harris on an issue that's always been very popular and critical in California," he said. "I view it as a matter of principle."

Gold's chief GOP rival in the primary was former veteran lawmaker Phil Wyman. He said in a recent news release that state lawmakers found guilty of certain crimes should face the death penalty.

Gold paused when asked what he thought of Wyman's suggestion.

"I think it's a little absurd," he said.

PHOTO: Ron Gold. Courtesy of the Ron Gold campaign.

April 7, 2014
Kamala Harris engaged to wed Los Angeles lawyer

20120416_HA_mortgage0207.JPGCalifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris is engaged to marry a Los Angeles lawyer, her spokesman said Monday.

Harris' fiancé, Douglas Emhoff, is partner in charge of the law firm Venable LLP's Los Angeles office. The two were engaged March 27, said David Beltran, Harris' communications director.

Harris, a former San Francisco district attorney, is a rising star in the Democratic Party and is widely considered a potential future candidate for governor or U.S. Senate. She and Emhoff are both 49.

The engagement was first reported in the San Francisco Chronicle. Harris told the newspaper Sunday that no wedding date has been set but that it will probably be within six months. She said she and Emhoff had been dating for about a year, according to the newspaper.

Harris has never been married. Emhoff is divorced.

PHOTO: Attorney General Kamala Harris prepares to talk before a hearing in Sacramento on April 22, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

February 19, 2014
Obama 'birther' critic Orly Taitz files for California AG race


Last month, Orly Taitz was in a federal courtroom in Sacramento as part of her unsuccessful effort to wrest the presidency away from Barack Obama.

In June, the attorney-dentist-real estate agent from Orange County might appear on the statewide ballot in a long-shot bid to oust California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Taitz, who secured 3 percent of the vote in her U.S. Senate run in 2012, has filed paperwork to seek the state's top law enforcement position via an unknown party. Among the pledges listed on her campaign website: Nullification of unconstitutional spying on law-abiding state residents and ending the "unconstitutional discriminatory Obamacare tax levied on some of the citizens of CA and waived for corporations."

She also would "prosecute state officials who ignored all evidence brought by law enforcement and experts showing Obama to possess citizenship of Indonesia, fabricated Selective Service certificate, fabricated birth certificate and a CT Social Security number which failed both E-verify and SSNVS."

Taitz is widely known for trying to document her belief that Obama lied about his birthplace and therefore is ineligible to serve as commander in chief.

Taitz previously ran in the Republican primary for secretary of state in 2010.

Harris, a Democrat with more than $3 million in her reelection war chest, said she isn't taking anything for granted ahead of next month's filing deadline.

"I am superstitious. I really am," she told a meeting of the California Newspaper Publishers Association on Wednesday. "Let's have this conversation after March 7."

PHOTO: Attorney Orly Taitz, who filed suit to stop the counting of electoral votes, is greeted by supporters outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento last month. (Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli)

October 10, 2013
Kamala Harris sues for-profit parent of Heald College, WyoTech

RBDemConvention.JPGA for-profit college chain intentionally deceived prospective students and investors about the value of its degrees and sought out the socially isolated and disadvantaged, according to a lawsuit California Attorney General Kamala Harris filed Thursday.

According to the complaint, Corinthian Colleges Inc. boasted of unrealistically high job placement rates -- as high as 100 percent in some cases -- while discussing in internal documents how to recruit low-income and disillusioned students who are "impatient," have "low self-esteem" or can claim "few people in their lives who care about them."

Part of that strategy entailed "aggressive and persistent internet and telemarketing campaigns" and placing spots on daytime television shows.

Corinthian Colleges Inc. tried to lure students with connections to the military by using the seals of various branches of the armed forces without government approval, according to the attorney general's office.

Originally organized under Delaware state law and based in Santa Ana, Corinthian Colleges Inc. manages more than 20 campuses around the United States. That includes Heald College locations in Fresno, Modesto, Rancho Cordova, Roseville and Stockton and a WyoTech campus in Fremont.

July 3, 2013
California bill to restrict long-term school bonds moving again

SCHOOLS_0154.JPGLegislation to crack down on California school districts' issuance of long-term "capital appreciation bonds," which had stalled in the Senate after passing the Assembly, is moving again.

On Wednesday, the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, on a 5-0 vote, approved the measure, Assembly Bill 182, after its author, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, softened its restrictions on the bonds.

The changes, however, did not placate school district representatives, who continued to oppose the measure, arguing that it will damage their ability to meet needs for new school construction and upgrading, especially in areas with relatively low levels of taxable property.

State Treasurer Bill Lockyer pushed for the legislation, arguing that the use of the CABs, as they have been dubbed, puts local taxpayers on the book for interest payments to bond buyers that may be 10 times or more of the original loan amounts.

July 1, 2013
Data breaches accessed information of 2.5 million Californians

PK_DATA_0268.JPGElectronic data breaches put the personal information of 2.5 million Californians at risk in 2012, according to a new report released Monday by Attorney General Kamala Harris.

State law requires businesses and government agencies to notify consumers when a data breach might have put their personal information at risk. A bill passed in 2012 also requires companies to report a breach to the attorney general when more than 500 consumers' information has been accessed.

The report's description of 131 breaches of consumer information marks the first time the information has been made available to the public. California law requires companies to report breaches of information whether the breach was malicious or unintentional.

The report details when each breach occurred and what private information was affected. The list of organizations that experienced data breaches in 2012 includes the California Department of Health Care Services, the state Department of Child Supportive Services, American Express and State Farm Insurance.

January 4, 2013
AG report: Parks officials systematically squirreled away money

The office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris has just released the results of its investigation into the Parks and Recreation Department's reporting and use of special funds, which was triggered by the revelation of a secret leave-cashout program.

Here's the executive summary of the AG's findings, which concludes that officials for 15 years systematically squirreled away money in the department's State Parks and Recreation Fund:

Discrepancies in Financial Reports Submitted by the California Department of Parks and Recreation

May 7, 2012
Jerry Brown, other California dignitaries remember fallen peace officers

Gov. Jerry Brown called California's law enforcement officers the "the best of our state" this morning as hundreds of police, sheriffs' deputies, Highway Patrol officers, correctional officers and their friends and families remembered those who have fallen in the line of duty.

Brown and other dignitaries spoke at the 36th annual California Peace Officers' Memorial Ceremony under a canopy of oaks and redwoods across the street from the Capitol's west steps. Many in the somber crowd of about 700 dabbed their eyes with tissues during the 90-minute event.

Outside the enclosed area for dignitaries, colleagues of the fallen and their family and friends, hundreds of law enforcement officers from around the state stood silently, looking on.

The ceremony at the memorial monument recalled the careers and sacrifice of 18 law enforcement officers, eight of whom died in 2011. Their names join those of more 1,500 others who have fallen in the line of duty since California gained statehood in 1850.

"More than ever we need the inspiration of those who give without asking the cost, who find more and more ways to serve. as opposed to just advancing whatever their interests or their rights might happen to be," Brown said.

California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Attorney General Kamala Harris struck similar notes of service and sacrifice in brief remarks to the crowd.

The nonprofit California Peace Officers' Memorial Foundation sponsored the event. The foundation also funds scholarships and grants for dependents of state peace officers who die in the line of duty.

Here's a list of the officers remembered this year:

March 20, 2012
Kamala Harris, online dating sites agree to security measures

Thumbnail image for kamala.jpgCalifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris is touting today an agreement she says will help improve safety and security for people looking for love online.

Harris and online dating site companies eHarmony, and Spark Networks, which operates JDate and Christian Mingle, released a set of business guidelines by which the parties have agreed to abide. Harris praised the principles as "important consumer protections" for people participating in the sites. The release noted that 40 million Americans used online dating services in 2011.

"Consumers should be able to use websites without the fear of being scammed or targeted," she said in the statement.

Under the agreement, which is posted here, the providers will publish safety tips and financial scam warnings online, maintain systems for reporting abuse or suspected criminal activity by users and make an effort to remove registered sex offenders and fake profiles from their sites. The providers will also work with the attorney general and a liaison from the office's new eCrime Unit to address concerns about criminal activity and identity theft issues.

Leaders from the companies said in the statement that many of the "best practices" outlined in the document were drawn from existing policies.

"These types of practices have been part of our commitment to member safety and education for many years," eHarmony CEO Jeremy Verba said in the statement. "We are proud to join Attorney General Harris, and Spark Networks in setting an example for the rest of the online dating industry."

Harris spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said the attorney general's office initiated conversations with the providers after learning about a case in Southern California involving a woman who was allegedly raped by a man she met through an online dating service. After learning that the man had a criminal history, the woman started urging the site to increase its user screening practices.

While the principles released today are not legally binding by private parties, Gledhill said the attorney general hopes the good-faith agreement will spark more changes for other sites.

"We hope it becomes best practices for the industry," she said.


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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