Category: Dianne Feinstein

CA-Sen: Will Rep. Devin Nunes Run Against Senator Dianne Feinstein?

Hypocrisy: Help Me Hold Senator Dianne Feinstein Accountable

Running ads against long-time incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein is one thing.

Rep. Devin Nunes has never been known for diplomacy when it comes to Democrats in the California congressional delegation, especially Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“It’s time for Sen. Feinstein to get off her butt and do something,” the Tulare Republican said regarding the economic problems besetting his San Joaquin Valley.

“I have tried to be nice, and I have tried to work with her. She is all talk, and no action.”

Nunes has started running television spots in his 21st Congressional District against her, paid for out of his own $1.4 million political war chest. It features her likeness and blames federal policies she either supports — or fails to fight — for making things worse for the valley on a wide range of issues, including air pollution

It’s the kind of behavior you would expect of someone preparing to challenge the veteran senator in 2012. And Nunes, after being coy about the question for weeks, says he is now giving it serious thought.

“Could it be me? Sure,” he says. “There would have to be a lot of things to fall in place.”

Another thing is raising over $10 million to try to beat Di Fi.

It is unlikely that Rep. Nunes, who would have to give up a California Congressional seat, would run in a very blue state, when President Obama is running for re-election.

But, Nunes is young and if Senator Feinstein who is old has a health problem, Nunes would be ready to run. But, it would still be an uphill battle in Democrat dominated California.


CA-Sen: Michael Reagan Says He Is NOT Considering A Run for U.S. Senate


Michael Reagan

It was more like, “I am not crazy enough to run….”

Republican Michael Reagan has shot down speculation that he will challenge Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2012, saying he has no plans to jump in the race.

“I am not crazy enough to run. No I am not considering a run for Senate,” Reagan wrote today in an email to The Bee.

Buzz that Reagan, the son of former California Governor and President Ronald Reagan, was weighing a bid for U.S. Senate picked up last week as California Republicans gathered for their fall convention in Los Angeles. But the GOP consultant and former radio host dismissed a report that he was mulling a bid in an interview with Fox News and subsequent message to The Bee today.

He told Fox News that he isn’t interested in the toll that running for office would take on his family, adding that he is content with his current career path of public speaking and consulting.

Fair enough and elective office is not for everyone.

But, that leaves the GOP to find a candidate willing to challenge Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein who recently had her campaign treasury robbed. Fear not, the Senator reloaded her campaign account with $5 million of her own money.

Senator Feinstein, Chair of the Select Senate Intelligence Committee, is an odds on favorite for re-election unless she has health problems (the Senator will be 79 next year).


Flap’s California Morning Collection September 21, 2011


Santa Ines Mission, California

The California Legislature is not in session and Governor Jerry Brown is continuing to sign or veto bills passed more than a week ago. The deadline for action on the legislation is October 9.

Governor Jerry Brown today is concentrating on the shift of some state prison inmates to the county jails.

California is less than two weeks away from shifting some state prison inmates into county jails, and Gov. Jerry Brown talks to hundreds of law enforcement and government officials this morning about that very subject.

Capitol denizens call this move “public safety realignment.” It’s described in this Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website as “historic legislation that will enable California to close the revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons.”

Counties are about to take responsibility for custody, treatment and supervision of offenders convicted of specific non-violent, non-serious and non-sex crimes. The shift starts Oct. 1.

Brown will give the keynote address at 10 a.m. at the one-day conference, which runs all day at the Sacramento Convention Center. His remarks will be webcast live on the governor’s website.

On to today’s California headlines:

Poll finds even Republicans would switch initiatives to November election

Republican legislators in Sacramento are crying foul over an eleventh-hour push to limit future initiatives to November general elections.

But the idea behind the union-backed legislation doesn’t seem so bad to a majority of GOP voters, according to a new Field Poll.

Registered Republicans supported the proposed change by a 15-point margin, 52 percent to 37 percent. Overall, 56 percent of voters back the proposal, which was approved by the Legislature and is now awaiting action by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

Democrats supporting Senate Bill 202 argued that putting initiatives up for a vote in higher-turnout general elections would ensure that more Californians have a say in the measures that impact their lives.

Republicans accused Democrats of jamming through a change to the initiative process that would benefit their own political aims, including delaying a union-opposed measure expected to qualify for the June 2012 primary election. That election should hold more interest for GOP voters, who will choose a presidential candidate to face President Barack Obama.

Despite the potential political impacts, Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said average voters aren’t tuned in to the maneuvering behind the last-minute legislation. To them, the idea of considering initiatives in the election they are more likely to vote in “sounds reasonable,” he said.

Divided Views About the Internet Sales Tax Law and a possible Referendum to Overturn it

By a 51% to 40% margin voters think it is bad policy to not charge a sales tax for merchandise purchased online when the same item purchased at a local retail outlet would be assessed this tax.

However, Californians are divided on the merits of the new legislation aimed at requiring large online retailers based out of state to begin collecting sales taxes on such purchases. Forty-seven percent of voters favor the new law, while 46% are opposed.

When asked how they would vote on a possible referendum to overturn the law, voters are similarly divided. If such a referendum were to qualify for the ballot, 49% say they would vote to overturn
the law, while 44% would vote to keep it in place.

There are big partisan differences on these matters. Majorities of Democrats think it is bad policy for out-of-state online retailers to not be charging sales taxes and support the new law to require
them to do so. If a referendum seeking to overturn the law were to qualify for the ballot, they would vote to keep the law by a five to four margin.

On the other hand, Republicans hold divided views about whether charging sales taxes for online purchases is a good policy but oppose the new law requiring online retailers based outside the state
to do so. And, by a 56% to 28% margin, they would vote to overturn the new law should a referendum about this qualify for the ballot.

Dianne Feinstein donates $5 million of own money to her campaign

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is up for reelection in 2012, will put $5 million of her own money into her race, the latest sign that a mega-fraud case involving a top Democratic campaign treasurer is roiling California politics.

Feinstein, first elected to the Senate in 1992, raised more than $5 million for her reelection campaign as of June 30, according to a Federal Election Commission report.

But that was before Kinde Durkee, a top Democratic political consultant who served as the treasurer for dozens of Democratic political committees and campaigns throughout the state, was accused by the Justice Department of improperly diverting more than $670,000 from the campaign account of a California state assemblyman.

Durkee also worked as Feinstein’s treasurer for two decades. And Feinstein now fears that part, or even all, of her reelection fund was improperly redirected by Durkee to personal accounts that Durkee controlled. Durkee has been accused by Justice of mail fraud after allegedly using hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign funds to cover business and personal expenses, including American Express bills and payments for her mother’s nursing home.

Darrell Issa to probe government loan programs after Solyndra collapse

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said that he plans to launch an investigation into government loan programs, in response to the implosion of solar equipment maker Solyndra, which got a $535-million federal loan guarantee in 2009.

Solyndra was the first recipient of a loan guarantee under a program authorized by the Bush administration in 2005 and beefed up under President Obama’s stimulus act.  But in the last few weeks, the company has shuttered its operations, laid off nearly all of its 1,100 workers and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Energy Department’s Inspector General have launched investigations of the company, raiding its offices in Fremont, Calif., and the homes of their executives. The Treasury Department is looking into the role one of its units — the Federal Financing Bank — played in the debacle. In the end, the bank lent Solyndra $527 million.

Congressional Republicans pounced on the scandal, asserting that the program did not perform the necessary due diligence for the Solyndra guarantee. They have alleged that the lax oversight may have been due to the fact that the largest investor in Solyndra has ties to an Obama donor,George Kaiser.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has held a hearing on Solyndra in which administration officials testified, and plans to hold another on Friday, which Solyndra’s top executives are expected to attend. Kaiser denies that he ever spoke to the administration about the Solyndra loan guarantee.

Enjoy your morning!


Flap’s California Morning Collection: September 16, 2011


The California Republican Party’s three day Fall Convention starts today in downtown Los Angeles. I will head down on Saturday afternoon after my Los Angeles Marathon training in the morning at Venice Beach and Santa Monica, California.

Rep. Michele Bachmann will speak at dinner tonight, before she heads off to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (actually the show is taped and she will probably be with Jay before the convention – unless she has a helicopter to get her to Burbank).

There will be a Presidential Straw Poll on Saturday afternoon which is meaningless but a fundraiser for the party. Here is a rundown on the speakers.

Presidential candidates Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan will speak at the Lincoln Clubs breakfast. Lunch features Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista and radio talk show host Dennis Prager. Dinner speakers include Rep. Mary Bono Mack of Palm Springs, Board of Equalization member Michelle Steel, state Sen. Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel, and Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway of Tulare.

Several California Republicans of late have talked up courting the Latino vote, and the party’s chairman, Tom Del Beccaro, will join several others, including Univision’s “Voz y Voto” host Santiago Lucero, at a Latino town hall, starting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

The convention will be held at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live, 900 Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, near Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. If you will be in the area and want to meet up, direct message or reply to me on Twitter – @Flap or message me on Facebook or Google Plus.

On to today’s headlines:

Offices searched in San Bernardino County public corruption probe

FBI and IRS agents Thursday morning executed nine federal search warrants that appeared to be related to an ongoing public corruption investigation of a Rancho Cucamonga development and its handling by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

[Updated: 3:40 p.m.: Among the offices searched were those of Jeffrey Burum, a managing partner at Colonies Partners of Rancho Cucamonga, and O’Reilly Public Relations in Riverside. One of the properties is associated with GOP operative and former state Sen. James L. Brulte. ]

FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the identities of the targets of the warrants were under court seal and that the nature of the investigation could not be disclosed.

“We’re prohibited from commenting about them,” Eimiller said.

In May, former San Bernardino County Supervisor Paul Antoine Biane and Burum were named in a 29-count indictment that includes charges of bribery, extortion and misappropriation of public funds.

James Erwin, a former assistant assessor and former chief of staff for Supervisor Neil Derry, and Mark Kirk, a former chief of staff for Supervisor Gary Ovitt, were also named in the indictment.

The corruption case involves a $102-million settlement between the county and Colonies Partners in 2006, four years after the developer filed suit challenging the county’s easement rights over a flood control basin in the middle of a large retail and housing development in Upland. The Board of Supervisors, acting against the advice of county counsel, voted 3 to 2 to approve the settlement.

In August, a San Bernardino Superior Court judge dismissed five of the seven charges against Burum. Charges of misappropriation of public funds against the other defendants also were dismissed.

[Updated: 5:35 p.m. Jason Kinney, a spokesperson for Jim Brulte, issued the following statement:

“Senator Brulte has cooperated fully and freely with any and all law enforcement entities which have contacted him during the Colonies investigation.

Today, his home and office were searched by federal authorities. It has never been alleged by any authority that Jim had any direct connection to any improper activities, he’s never observed any improper activities, and he’s already provided complete testimony to two different grand juries.

He will continue to cooperate fully and voluntarily with all law enforcement inquiries. It’s worth noting that Colonies was Jim’s client for only four months in 2004 and 2005, well before any of the alleged improper events occurred.”]

GOP group sues to block new state Senate maps

Arguing that California’s newly drawn Senate districts are unconstitutional, a Republican Party-backed group filed a lawsuit Thursday asking the California Supreme Court to kill the new maps.

“We believe there are serious constitutional flaws in the maps produced by the redistricting commission, and these are matters that the Supreme Court should look at immediately,” said David Gilliard, a Sacramento-based GOP political consultant leading the effort.

Gilliard said his group, Fairness & Accountability In Redistricting), also has collected about 100,000 signatures in a referendum drive aimed at asking voters to reject the newly drawn Senate districts.

If the group can collect 504,760 valid signatures by Nov. 14, the state Senate lines will be put on hold until the referendum is held in the June 2012 election.

Charles T. Munger Jr. puts more than money into California Republican politics

Charles T. Munger Jr. isn’t your run-of-the-mill Republican donor.

The wealthy Stanford physicist is gaining prominence in a state Republican Party now regularly in search of money needed to win in blue California. But Munger’s involvement in the state GOP goes beyond writing checks.

His influence will be on display this weekend as California Republicans gather in Los Angeles for their fall convention and begin discussing a Munger-inspired platform that downplays traditional GOP positions on gun rights, abortion and same-sex marriage.

The bow tie-wearing Republican has spent recent months shepherding a behind-the-scenes effort to adopt a more moderate California Republican Party platform.

The combination of his deep resources and reputation as a “details guy” willing to delve into the nitty gritty of internal party politics has bolstered his influence at a pivotal time of rebuilding after the party’s 2010 losses, friends and associates say.

“Not only has he put his money where his mouth is, he puts his time and energy into it as well,” said GOP consultant Rob Stutzman. “He’s more than a donor – he’s an activist and he’s had a huge impact because he’s combined his activism with his ability to contribute money to his causes.”

Feinstein weak in poll, but no GOP challenger yet

Two years ago, two major Republican campaigns swarmed the California GOP fall convention, confident that they could drum up the support to beat three-term incumbent Democrat Sen. Barbara Boxer, who was considered vulnerable because of her low voter-approval ratings.

This year, as 1,000 GOP activists gather today in Los Angeles for their fall convention, things are different, as even the California Republican Party chairman has no idea who will take on 19-year-incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein next year – and no major candidates have stepped up.

But the landscape may change soon, analysts said, given Feinstein’s recent campaign money problems and a Field Poll released today that gives one of California’s most consistently popular politicians a 41 percent approval rating, the lowest of her Senate career.

One person considering a run, The Chronicle has learned, is Michael Reagan, a former conservative talk-radio host and the son of former President Ronald Reagan.

Enjoy your morning and hope to see you at the California GOP Convention tomorrow.


CA-Sen: Senator Dianne Feinstein Says Her Campaign Account Was Stolen – Wiped Out


This is not a positive campaign development for the senior Senator from California, especially since she will stand for re-election next year.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she was “wiped out” by Kinde Durkee, a well-connected California Democratic political operative who served as treasurer for hundreds of state, local and federal campaign committees.

Durkee was arrested by the FBI on Sept. 2 on allegations of fraud surrounding the diversion of more than $670,000 from the reelection committee for a California state assemblyman, and a growing list of California Democrats, including Feinstein and Reps. Susan Davis and Loretta Sanchez, now appear to victims as well.

“I was wiped out too, we don’t know how much,” said Feinstein, indicating the losses in campaign funds could run into hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. Feinstein, who is up for reelection next year, reported just over $5 million in the bank as of June 30, according to disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

“She did my ‘92 campaign, my ‘94 campaign, my 2000 [campaign], my 2006 [campaign] … my gubernatorial campaign,” Feinstein told POLITICO on Monday, describing her long relationship with Durkee. “I trusted her implicitly.”

Feinstein said she and her campaign staff have been unable to access all their bank records at this point because Durkee alone controlled access to the account, which has made it difficult for them to assess how much money is gone.

Not very good oversight by Feinstein and it could be an issue in a campaign. But, nobody will challenge Feinstein from the Democratic Party side and with California being so deeply blue, she will have only token Republican opposition.

Feinstein who is a personal millionaire many times over will probably have to write her own check initially but soon will be flush with campaign cash again.

But, where did the money go?