On to today’s headlines:
The House Ethics Committee voted Thursday to launch an investigation into whether Rep. Laura Richardson pressured her congressional staff to work on her campaign, adding to her political troubles as she faces a tough reelection campaign next year.
The investigation is expected to be announced Friday. The panel, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, largely operates in secret. Members voted unanimously to form a four-member investigative subcommittee — with power to subpoena witnesses and documents — to examine whether the Long Beach Democrat violated House standards of conduct. The investigation is likely to take months.
A source familiar with the preliminary inquiry discussed it on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. At least eight current and former Richardson staff members told investigators they felt compelled to work on her 2010 reelection campaign on their own time, the source said. Some said House resources, such as congressional phones and copying machines, were used in the campaign, the source said.
In a statement late Thursday, Richardson confirmed the panel’s action and accused it of “unjustly” targeting some members while overlooking the well-publicized misuse of official House resources for personal purposes by numerous other members of Congress.” She cited House members who sleep in their offices, “saving tens of thousands of dollars personally at taxpayers’ expense.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry today announced his California finance leadership team, including Paul Folino, John Harris, E. Floyd Kvamme, Dean Spanos and Mike Tuchin as finance chairs.
“I am honored to have such a strong team of California business and community leaders join my campaign fundraising efforts,” said Gov. Perry. “With their support and hard work, we will run a strong campaign, to spark American job creation, take a wrecking ball to the Washington establishment, cut federal spending and get America working again.”
- Ed Atsinger, CEO, Salem Communications (Los Angeles)
- Doug Barnhart, Chairman and CEO, J. Reese Construction (San Diego)
- Kim Bengard, Founder, It Takes a Family Foundation (Orange County)
- Stephen Chazen, Chairman and CEO, Occidental Petroleum (Los Angeles)
- Ken Eldred, Founder and CEO , Living Stones Foundation (Bay Area)
- Frank Jao, CEO, Bridgecreek Group (Orange County)
- Steve Layton, President, Eand B Natural Resource Development Corporation (Central Valley)
- Tom McKernan, President and CEO, Automobile Club of Southern California (Orange County)
- Paula Kent Meehan, President and Chairman, Kenquest, Inc. (Los Angeles)
- George Mihlsten, Partner, Latham and Watkins (Los Angeles)
- John Mumford, Founding Partner, Crosspoint Venture Partners (Bay Area)
- Larry Paul, Founding Principal, Laurel Crown Partners, LLC (Los Angeles)
- The Honorable Gregory Slayton, Owner, Slayton Capitol (Bay Area)
- Patrick Soon-Siong, Founder, Abraxis (Los Angeles)
- Dr. Josh Valdez, President and CEO, Right Way Healthcare (Los Angeles)
- Michael Warder, Vice Chancellor, Pepperdine University* (Los Angeles)
- Rock Zierman, CEO, California Independent Petroleum Association (Sacramento)
Given that history, one might wonder whether a new initiative measure that would overhaul California’s public pensions could help Brown, who’s now back in the governor’s office, gain legislative approval for his own pension reform package.
Unions may dislike Brown’s proposal, but they utterly despise the pending initiative measure and fear that should it reach the ballot – by no means certain – recession-stressed voters would embrace it to send a message, not unlike what happened in 1978 vis-à-vis property taxes.
Accepting a substantial version of Brown’s reforms – not just its low-hanging fruit, such as pension-spiking – may be the unions’ best weapon against the tougher initiative.
First, a confession: When Proposition 11, the intitiative to create an independent, citizens’ redistricting commission in California, was placed on the ballot in 2008 I openly questioned the complex, Rube Golberg process it proposed for selecting commissioners. It ispelled out detailed conflict-of-interest provisions, created an open applications process, put the state auditor in charge of screening candidates and selecting a pool of finalists, gave legislative leaders the power to veto a handful of finalists, and ended with a lottery.
It was convoluted, but it accomplished something essential to protect the panel’s independence: Other than giving legislative leaders the ability to blackball a few finalists, it completely shut elected officials out of the process.
As the redistricting process unfolded this spring and summer it was more than a little amusing to watch as frustrated politicians slowly began to realize that they were absolutely powerless to control, or even influence the process. The result, for better or worse, was a set of new maps that were exclusively the creation of an independent panel isolated from traditional partisan influence.
Enjoy your morning!