Ben Margot/ AP
In this March 26, 2014 file photo, California state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, right, leaves the San Francisco Federal Building in San Francisco.

Federal prosecutors have added a charge of racketeering to the corruption and gun-running case against state Sen. Leland Yee, filing an amended indictment this week that includes new allegations that the San Francisco Democrat traded official favors for campaign cash.

The indictment broadens the scope of the charges facing the more than two-dozen defendants in the case and significantly increases Yee’s potential punishment if he is convicted. Yee, who has pleaded not guilty, could face a maximum sentence of 165 years in prison and $2.25 million in penalties based on the charges in the latest filing. Racketeering charges, developed 45 years ago to combat the mafia, gives prosecutors more latitude on presenting evidence.

“The prosecution is always very careful not to bring that charge unless they got the goods,” said attorney McGregor W. Scott, a former U.S. attorney in Sacramento. “It really brings the connotation that it involves serious wrongdoing.”

Yee is among 29 people ensnared in a sweeping undercover federal investigation into an organized crime ring allegedly overseen by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a longtime associate of Yee, and Yee’s political consultant, Keith Jackson, according to a federal criminal complaint. The original indictment following Yee’s March 26 arrest alleged that he took campaign money from undercover FBI agents and offered to arrange an international arms deal. Yee was raising money to retire a debt from his run for San Francisco mayor and to wage a 2014 campaign for secretary of state.

The California Department of Health announced Friday that it had issued a notice to terminate federal funding for the Sonoma Developmental Center, leaving the future of the beleaguered facility unclear.

The Department of Developmental Services, which runs the facility, has 90 days to appeal the decision. Nancy Lungren, a DDS spokeswoman, said the department will review the notice and decide how to proceed sometime next week. Lungren and a press release from the health department both emphasized that patient care will not change as a result of the termination notice. The health department’s notice does not affect the facility’s state license, so Sonoma can continue to operate.

The federal decertification affects seven of the Sonoma Developmental Center’s 11 intermediate care facilities – the other four lost their certification last year. The facilities at the center are akin to dorms but provide medical services and care in addition to living space. Altogether, 240 people with intellectual disabilities such as autism and cerebral palsy reside at the center.

Lungren said she could not speculate as to what might happen to the patients and the facility should the DDS appeal and fail. The health department’s notice allows 120 days to wrap up an appeal. Lungren estimated a final resolution would be reached by December.

G6C2MVVMD.4Senior Photographer
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ pkitagaki@sacbee.com
With the governor in Mexico, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will be acting governor from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning. Bee file photo
Rich Pedroncelli/ AP
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will act as governor part of Tuesday and part of Wednesday.

With Gov. Jerry Brown heading to Mexico on Sunday and other office-holders preparing for out-of-state trips of their own, it might help to consult the Constitution – or one very detailed memorandum from the governor’s office – to know exactly who is in charge of the state next week and when.

The memorandum, provided to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders Friday by Jonathan Renner, Brown’s legal affairs secretary, informs Newsom he will be acting governor from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning, which is routine.

But Brown will still be in Mexico when Newsom himself leaves California on Tuesday, so Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the next in line, will act as governor until the following day.

That takes us to Wednesday, when Brown is scheduled to return. But not until later in the day – after Steinberg, too, leaves the state. In his absence, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will fill in.

Governor’s Office
Jonathan Renner, Gov. Jerry Brown’s legal affairs secretary, was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal, Brown’s office announced on Friday, July 25, 2014.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday nominated a second senior member of his administration on a California court, naming Jonathan Renner, his legal affairs secretary, to the Sacramento-based Third District Court of Appeal.

Renner, 44, was a senior assistant attorney general for government law when Brown was attorney general, then joined Brown’s administration when the governor took office in 2011.

The nomination comes two years after Brown named longtime aide Jim Humes, then Brown’s executive secretary, to the First District Court of Appeal. Brown last month appointed Humes presiding justice of the court’s first division, elevating his position.

Like Brown and Humes, Renner is a Democrat.

Charlie Riedel/ The Associated Press
An ethanol plant stands next to a cornfield near Nevada, Iowa.

The California Air Resources Board concludes its two-day monthly meeting, 8:30 a.m. at the Cal/EPA building on I Street, with a presentation on updates to the Low Carbon Fuel Standard. One of the centerpieces of the state’s fight against global warming, the standard is being considered for re-adoption next year with a couple of amendments to its credit program.

Under the 2007 executive order by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, fuel producers must reduce the “carbon intensity” of their products by 10 percent by 2020, taking into account the entire process – from growing corn for ethanol to shipping fuel to California.

The standard survived a legal challenge last month when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit brought by oil and out-of-state farm groups.

VIDEO: Consumers support California's efforts to combat climate change until it hits their pocketbooks, Dan Walters says.

Paul Sakuma/ The Associated Press
A tanker truck passing the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond on March 9, 2010.

Consumers support California's efforts to combat climate change until it hits their pocketbooks, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

Damian Dovarganes/ AP
Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari holds a media availability to respond to Gov. Jerry Brown's address to the American Federation of Teachers AFT, at the Los Angeles Convention Center last month. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The Sacramento TV market’s largest broadcast stations netted more than $623,000 in ad revenue from federal, state and local campaign committees in the weeks before last month’s primary election, public filings show.

The top-spending customer for Sacramento-area TV ads was Assemblyman John A. Pérez, whose campaign for state controller purchased almost $220,000 in airtime in the weeks before the primary, according to ad-buying invoices uploaded by KCRA, KXTV, KOVR and KTXL.

Perez, D-Los Angeles, ended up finishing third in the contest, just 481 votes behind Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, a Democrat, who will face Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican, in a November runoff. Campaign filings due next week will detail candidates’ primary campaign spending, but neither Yee nor Swearengin ran any Sacramento TV ads, stations’ filings show.

The second-biggest spender on Sacramento TV before the June 3 election was Sacramento County district attorney’s candidate Anne Marie Schubert, whose campaign spent $173,000. Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari spent the third-most, $156,000.

Jose Luis Villegas/ jvillegas@sacbee.com
Gov. Jerry Brown, accompanied by first lady Anne Gust Brown, speaks outside the governor's mansion in Sacramento on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.

Gov. Jerry Brown continues to expand his massive financial advantage over Republican Neel Kashkari in his bid for re-election, reporting Thursday that he had $22.4 million on hand as of June 30.

The Democratic governor raised $5.7 million in the first half of the year and spent less than $270,000 in the primary election. Brown finished first anyway, and is polling far ahead of Kashkari early in their general election contest.

Brown’s major donors include the Democratic State Central Committee of California, labor unions and myriad business interests.

Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, relied on $2 million of his own money to pull ahead of Republican rival Tim Donnelly in the primary election, and he has continued to struggle raising campaign cash. He has not yet filed his semi-annual financial statement, which is due next week.

GER2MLCUJ.2Senior Photographer
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ pkitagaki@sacbee.com
Gov. Jerry Brown talks about former Sen. John Vasconcellos during a memorial ceremony in Sacramento on Wednesday June 11, 2014.

When he leaves next week for Mexico for talks on trade and the environment, Gov. Jerry Brown will be accompanied by more than 100 administration officials, lawmakers and business delegates, including many of his political donors and a handful of old friends.

Of the roughly 90 businesspeople joining Brown, about one-third have donated to Brown’s political causes in recent years or represent companies that have, with contributions totaling about $750,000 since Brown ran for office in 2010.

Delegates paying a fee of $5,000 each for the four-day trip are subsidizing the cost of Brown’s travel. The delegation includes Sempra Energy, BP America and other representatives of the energy, tourism and agriculture industries, but also the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The delegation includes about 10 members of Brown’s administration, five state senators and 10 Assembly members. All of the traveling lawmakers are Democrats but one, Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside.

AP Photo
President Barack Obama waves to supporters as he arrives at Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Los Angeles, for a 24-hour visit.

President Barack Obama concludes his west coast fundraising swing today, following another big-donor event in Los Angeles and some policy talk this afternoon at a southland community college before jetting back to Washington.

Obama, who headlined Democratic fundraisers in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this week, arrived in Los Angeles yesterday for an evening reception. The president will attend another party fundraiser this morning before making remarks at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, where he is expected to highlight the value of job-training programs for healthcare and other sectors.

California has been a fundraising mother lode for both parties, but particularly Democrats, and Obama has made repeated trips to the Golden State campaign ATM. During the 2012 election cycle, the state generated almost a fifth of every Democratic campaign dollar, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The latest westward trip has been criticized by Republicans and even questioned by some fellow Democrats as ill-timed given the international crises in Gaza and Ukraine and the flood of Central American refugees along the U.S. southern border.

GMR2MH9TK.3Special to The Bee
Robert Durell
Thomas Barnes of Sacramento fills up his tank at Bonfare Market in November 2008.

Californians continue to strongly support their state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases – until they find out it involves higher gasoline prices, according to a new poll released Wednesday.

The Public Policy Institute of California’s annual environmental survey also found majorities oppose the greater use of fracking for oil exploration (54 percent), increased offshore oil drilling (51 percent) and building more nuclear power plants (64 percent).

California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will include fuels as of Jan. 1. That has prompted an oil industry-backed campaign for a delay or repeal amid predictions that the cost of gas could rise by 15 cents or more per gallon. Though a group of moderate Democrats in the Legislature has asked for a delay, Gov. Jerry Brown has shown no interest in doing so.

More than two thirds of adults and 60 percent of Californians likely to vote this year support the state’s greenhouse gas efforts, according to the poll. Three-fourths of adults like emissions limits on power plants and clean fuel requirements on gasoline


Explaining his nomination of Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar to the California Supreme Court at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jerry Brown emphasized Cuéllar’s academic credentials and noted that he was “not unaware” of California’s diversity as he decided whom to appoint.

“When 50 percent of the kids in kindergarten through 12th grade are of Latin descent, it’s important that they see, in all of the positions of power, people who they identify with,” Brown said. “So that’s a thought. But I would also point out that this is a very accomplished individual.”

If confirmed, Cuéllar, a law professor at Stanford, would become the court’s only Latino justice and the first Latino immigrant justice in its history. Carlos Moreno, who was confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Belize in May, was the court’s only Latino justice when he retired in 2011.

Cuéllar has a law degree from Yale Law School and a doctorate in political science from Stanford, where he has taught since 2001. He has also worked for the Obama and Clinton administrations on immigration policy, regulatory transparency, food safety standards and public health.

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