The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

April 11, 2010
PG&E is paying good money for its endorsements

PG&E has sent the first mailers for its Proposition 16 initiative on the June 8 ballot this week, and many more are sure to follow, as California Forum makes clear today.

PG&E has bought space on roughly 20 slate cards targeting the left and the right, environmentalists and business interests and anti-tax voters, according to its latest campaign filing.

Slate cards occupy a sketchy niche in the business of politics. Read them with skepticism.

Slates have names suggesting they are actual organizations. In fact, virtually all of them are run by political operatives who have built mailing lists over the years and appear able to deliver votes.

One is called the Democratic Voters Choice card, which is aimed at Democratic voters. Another is called Citizens for Good Government. It is tailored for Republicans.

Each shares the same consultant, Thomas Kaptain of Burbank. PG&E is paying a combined $200,000 to appear on the two cards.

Another is COPS Voter Guide. Its name suggests it represents of police and sheriffs. Some cops are involved, but not many. PG&E paid COPS $100,000.

Several are put together by Orange County attorney James Lacy, and his firm, Landslide Communications. All of Lacy's cards are aimed at conservatives, particularly those who focus on taxation. Lacy said he intends to mail more than six million pieces in the June election.

PG&E is paying $19,600 to appear on the Small Business Action Committee Newsletter, according to its campaign finance state.

Small Business Action Committee was established to "battle for small business on important political issues." It's run by Joel Fox, former head of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and editor of the on-line Fox & Hounds Daily political blog.

PG&E is paying $42,000 to appear on the National Tax Limitation Committee's card, also put out by Lacy's Landslide Communications. National Tax Limitation is run by Lewis K. Uhler, a long-time Republican activist and veteran of Gov. Ronald Reagan's administration.

Like many slate card operators, Uhler said he only takes money from causes he believes in. While he said he has "no love for PG&E," he believes in the initiative to block the expansion of public power.

"Government should not be in business," Uhler declared.

That's open for debate, although so far, there isn't much argument from the No-on-16 side. As we note on the front of Forum today, PG&E has spent $28.52 million to boost Proposition 16. Foes have raised virtually nothing. In the business of politics, the side with the most money usually wins, or at least, delivers the most mail.

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

October 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Stuart Leavenworth on Twitter

Follow "SacBeeEditBoard" on Twitter