With a law extending the election timeline now tied up in court, Senate Democrats’ best hope of a leg up in fighting the recall of Sen. Josh Newman may be California’s political ethics watchdog.
The Fair Political Practices Commission will vote Thursday on whether to reverse a longstanding rule that limits how much money politicians can give to a candidate-controlled recall committee. The board is set to meet at 10 a.m. at its headquarters on Q Street.
Newman, a Fullerton Democrat who eked out a surprise victory in his first election last November, giving his party a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate, was targeted by Republicans eager to retake his seat after he voted in April to raise the gas tax.
Democrats have since gone on the offensive. In June, they passed legislation to add steps to the recall process that would likely place Newman on the ballot in next June’s primary, rather than in a special election where turnout is generally much lower. But a ruling this week put the law on hold while judges determine whether it is legal, after the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and other conservative activists sued.
That leaves the potential FPPC regulation change, which Democrats also requested. In 2002, the commission adopted an interpretation of California campaign finance law that subjects state candidates to contribution limits, currently $4,400, when they donate to a recall committee controlled by another state candidate.
Seeking to give Newman a bigger war chest should proponents qualify their recall effort, Senate Democrats argued they should be able to give unlimited sums. According to a draft opinion that the FPPC could adopt Thursday, a majority of the commission agrees, including two Republicans.
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WORTH REPEATING: “We’re excited that Mayor Garcetti ... is throwing his support and his energy behind a great leader like Joyce Craig.” - New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley, on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s trip to the state to endorse a Manchester mayoral candidate
GETTING AN EARFUL: Usually a top target of national Republican groups, Rep. Ami Bera has been taking plenty of heat from the left this year as well. At a town hall in March, the Elk Grove Democrat was jeered for bipartisan votes that attendees complained had betrayed his party’s progressive base. Back home during Congress’ summer recess, Bera is planning another public forum this Saturday, 10:30 a.m. at the Cordova High Performing Arts Center in Rancho Cordova, to discuss health care. If the acrimonious recent debate in California over a single-payer system is any indication, expect another lively meeting, especially after Bera attracted a Democratic challenger this week who is critical of his opposition to the idea.
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TECHQUITY: Lawmakers return to Sacramento next week for the final month of session, but it’s never too late to introduce new legislation. Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, plans to unveil a bill addressing a “timely issue facing women in the high-tech industry” during a 10:30 a.m. media call. She will be joined by Noreen Farrell, executive director of Equal Rights Advocates, a national women’s equality organization.
CALLED OUT: Will Gov. Jerry Brown sign Senate Bill 54? First the controversial proposal to prohibit state and local law enforcement from aiding federal immigration authorities has to pass the Assembly, which could be one of the biggest legislative fights of the final month of session. Police groups have been hammering the measure, arguing that it will only protect criminals. Now immigration advocates are trying to shore up support by publicly pressuring moderate Democrats whose votes may prove crucial to their success. A coalition of labor, civil rights and other liberal organizations called Building the California Dream Alliance placed ads in last Sunday’s editions of the local newspapers for five undecided lawmakers – Assembly members Tim Grayson of Concord, Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, Sabrina Cervantes of Riverside, Jacqui Irwin of Thousand Oaks and Al Muratsuchi of Torrance – calling on them to “stand with your community.”
CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake, who turns 47 on Friday.