Thursday, January 07, 2016

CA-44-- There Are Good Democrats... And Then There Are The Other Kind


Just over three months ago, we looked at how Sacramento Democrats plan to get rid of their most corrupt member, state Senator Isadore Hall, by backing him for an open congressional seat. Hall, who just became a state senator last year, won a special election when just 7% of the voters in his district chose to participate. He heads one of the prime "juice committees" in Sacramento, which are committees that oversee lucrative industries, allowing politicians to foster relationships they can squeeze for campaign cash. And Hall's is the giant bicameral innocuously-named committee on government organization, once known as the "committee on public morals," which regulates card rooms, racetracks and Indian tribes that run casinos-- gambling-- industries that have taken a big hand in financing Hall's political career. More than one-third of the $369,000 Hall raised in the first six months of the year came from people tied to a gambling business.

Monday, the L.A. Times ran a piece on Greg Glassman, founder and CEO of CrossFit, which has been lobbying for labelling on the sugary drinks that are at the heart of the explosion in diabetes and obesity rates, particularly in poor areas, like the one Hall represents. Gassman is supporting the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act. Sponsored by state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), the act would require sugar warning labels on soft-drink cans, bottles and vending machines. The warning, similar to that on cigarette packs, would read in part, "Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay."
The proposal was defeated before a state health committee last year [by 1 vote]. Although a Field Poll that showed 74% of voters favor warning labels, the bill failed in part due to four lawmakers who abstained.

A new vote is slated for Jan. 13.

The lawmakers who abstained at the last vote-- state Sens. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside), Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) and Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove)-- declined to comment. Glassman notes that many of the lawmakers' constituents are black and Hispanic, two groups that disproportionately suffer high diabetes and obesity rates.

Nguyen's chief of staff, Mark Reeder, said her office has heard similar criticism: "We got a fair amount of unhappy letters … generally saying 'It's a health issue,'" he said. "Some minority groups met with us, thinking they are being targeted by the soda makers."
Abstaining on key bills is a tactic Hall and other conservative Democrats in Sacramento use in situations where they are stuck between what their constituents want-- that 74% is a big number-- and what their campaign donors expect from them for the money they dole out. CrossFit tracked Hall's campaign contributions from the beverage industry, $66,724 through 2014.

$3497 from Pepsico Inc.
$3500 from California Beer & Beverage Distributors Community Affairs


$4978 from Pepsico Inc.
$5195 from California Beer & Beverage Distributors Community Affairs
$1000 from California/Nevada Soft Drink Association PAC


$3514 from Pepsico Inc.
$7800 from California Beer & Beverage Distributors Community Affairs
$3900 from Allied Beverages Inc.
$3000 from Ace Beverage Co.
$2800 from Pacific Beverage
$1000 from Mission Beverage Co.


$4916 from Pepsico Inc.
$12300 from California Beer & Beverage Distributors Community Affairs
$4000 Pacific Beverage
$3000 Ace Beverage Co.
$1324 Pepsico Incorporated and Affiliated Entities
$1000 Mission Beverage Co.
Blue America has endorsed Hall's progressive opponent in the congressional race, Nanette Barragán, and it looks like CrossFit owner Greg Gassman has as well.

Hall is also close with tobacco and alcohol companies. According to the Sacramento Bee, Hall “has the distinction of accepting more tobacco money than all but one other Democratic legislator since 2009.” And Hall has taken more than $100,000 from alcohol companies since 2013, the highest number for any Californian legislator.

Like Big Soda, Big Tobacco has gotten its money’s worth from Hall. The Bee reports “many of the most significant anti-smoking measures died or were watered down in the influential committee Hall oversees.” True to form, Hall declined to comment.

Hall is running to represent California’s 44th district in the US Congress. CrossFit strenuously opposes Hall’s nomination. The reason is simple; CrossFit believes that Hall is not fit for public office. California doesn’t need another congressman in the pockets of alcohol, tobacco and soda.

Opposing Hall is fellow Democrat Nanette Barragan. The 44th district is “solidly Democratic.” Hence, whoever wins the Democratic nomination will likely go on to win the general election. CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman has spoken to Barragan and expressed his support to her campaign.
Even if Hall weren't one of the worst Democrats running for Congress anywhere, Blue America would still be as enthusiastic about Barragán as we are. A successful fighter against Big Oil-- whose lobbyists are all in for Hall, of course-- she is an unapologetic progressive across the board and is being supported by Congressional Progressive Caucus members eager to have her join their ranks, including Linda Sánchez (CA), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA), Grace Napolitano (CA), Ruben Gallego (AZ), Lois Frankel (FL), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Debbie Dingell (MI), and Luis Gutierrez (IL).

If you'd like to help Nanette win her race, her grassroots campaign gratefully accepts contributions here.

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