Opinion

The ugly sides of campaign money

On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Campaign money, in various forms, dominated our thinking, as Rep. Ami Bera’s father faced the tough justice. We’re specially pleased that Sacramento and West Sacramento received $30 million to start building a trolley line. It will be good for the two cities’ economy and for the environment. Speaking of the environment, Tesla dropped an uphill effort to push through a bill this year that would have increased zero emission vehicles. For now.

Take that

On the day when Ami Bera’s father got sentenced to a year and a day in prison for campaign money laundering, Derek Cressman came by to tell why we should support Proposition 59, the ballot measure that urges California officials to use all their authority to overturn the Citizens United ruling and related court decisions that opened the floodgates of corporate money in political campaigns.

Cressman, a Democratic candidate for secretary of state in 2014 and Proposition 59 campaign manager, hopes a strong vote in California will ignite a national groundswell to overturn the 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. He also hopes the advisory measure on the Nov. 8 ballot will pressure Congress to support a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United. By contrast, if voters in a congressional district reject 59, that representative would have an excuse not to support any changes.

That’s a risk proponents are willing to take. Cressman expects 100 percent of Sen. Bernie Sanders supporters to back the measure, and the support of 60 percent to 80 percent of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s backers. We’ll offer our take shortly.—Foon Rhee @foonrhee

Take a number: $268,726

Sacramento County Sheriff Jones, a Republican trying to unseat Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, was not in court for Babulal Bera’s sentencing on charges that he laundered $268,726 in campaign money to help his son’s congressional campaigns in 2010 and 2012. But Zach Hunter of the National Republican Congressional Campaign helpfully offered his take, saying in a blast email that it was “a massive straw donor scheme.” There is no allegation that the scheme continued in 2014 or in the current campaign. Bera remains a prodigious fundraiser, reporting $1.64 million in the bank at the end of June, compared to Jones’ $400,375.

Our take

Editorial: Even fathers of congressmen must follow the law. U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley made the emotionally wrought decision to sentence Babulal Bera, father of Rep. Ami Bera, to prison for 12 months and a day.

Editorial: Sacramento and West Sacramento’s streetcar project is rolling again, buoyed by $30 million in cap-and-trade funds from the state and a ring of boosters who just won’t let the plan die, no matter how many political blows it takes.

Bill Whalen, among our regular contributors: Why not a tax on the vacation home of every political consultant who’s making a killing off this initiative overkill?

Elise Torres and Eric Borden’s Soapbox: PG&E’s electric vehicle charging station plan would cost all ratepayers.

Alex Lantsberg and Kevin Duncan’s Soapbox: Jerry Brown should not forget the workers who build affordable housing.

Their take

Mercury News: Proposition 60, the one requiring porn workers to wear condoms (seriously), is one of those measures that might seem like a good idea until you actually read it.

Orange County Register: California needs drought proof water. Desalination can deliver it, without wreaking environmental havoc or splitting the state along familiar partisan lines.

Miami Herald: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz had a rough time with the Bernie Sanders crowd in Philly. But she can still do a good job and deserves another term.

Kansas City Star: Vice President Joe Biden has arranged a trip to Turkey starting next Wednesday to patch relations with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The chill in relations must be fixed.

Syndicates’ take

Charles Krauthammer: Russia and Iran are taking over the Middle East.

Eugene Robinson: Donald Trump’s shakeup further imperils the GOP.

Nicholas Kristof: What if my dog had been a Syrian?

Tesla takes a pass

Facing a two-thirds vote requirement, Tesla Motors pulled back on its effort to muscle through a bill in the final two weeks of the legislative session that sought to put into law California’s policy that 15 percent of new cars sold in California be zero-emission vehicles. Tesla Vice President Diarmuid O'Connell said in an email that he was “pleased that this effort, short and intense as it was, exposed the battle lines.” Major automakers and oil interests were fighting Tesla, which makes is electric vehicles in Fremont. Expect the issue to return in 2017. Other automakers and, no doubt, oil companies, will be there to try to weaken the requirement.

Mail bag

“States that are left holding the bag should pursue all means possible to prevent health insurers from operating in their states,” – Richard Kuechle of Lincoln.

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