Sunday, October 04, 2015

Once Again Sacramento Democrats Want To Send Their Most Corrupt Member To Congress


Corrupt legislators Isadore Hall and Henry Perea from the juice committee joined lobbyist Dennis Loper at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. Who picked up the tab?

A few years ago Democrats in the California state legislature, the Sacramento Democratic establishment and the state's labor bosses were incredibly eager to get rid of the worst state senator among them, corrupt conservative San Diego Democrat Juan Vargas. So they backed his bid for an open congressional seat! Let him become Washington's problem! Former Congressman Bob Filmer-- who had beaten Vargas in three primaries, and had given up his House seat to become mayor of San Diego-- endorsed Vargas for his old seat, despite having said about him:
While Juan has not yet been convicted of a crime, virtually everyone closest to him has been found guilty of something. Juan's former Chief-of Staff and handpicked successor on the San Diego City Council is now a convicted felon. Another of Juan's political cronies made millions off the poorest people in National City as a slumlord and recently, Juan's chief campaign consultant was convicted of a felony for misusing public money... If Juan truly didn't have any knowledge of the crimes his close associates have committed then he may well be the most clueless man in America.
ProgressivePunch grades Vargas' congressional career an "F," for consistently voting far more conservatively than one would expect from someone representing a his deep blue D+16 district. (Obama beat McCain 66-32% and then trounced Romney 69-29%.)

Some observers in Sacramento and the Los Angeles Democratic establishment have a sense of déjà vu in the race between Nanette Barragán and state Senator Isadore Hall to replace Janice Hahn in the South Bay's 44th Congressional District. The establishment is firmly behind Hall, one of the worst of the lobbyist-owned conservative Dems in Sacramento. His list of endorsements is gargantuan. Hahn herself, who is running for county supervisor and is counting on Hall to help deliver her votes from African-Americans, was the first to back him, even though she has been a stalwart progressive and he is far more conservative. No one was surprised when Juan Vargas, now a sleazy Wall Street-owned New Dem, also endorsed him.

Several other right-of-center New Dems did likewise, namely Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA), Greg Meeks (New Dem-NY, generally considered one of the dozen most corrupt politicians in Washington), Donald Beyer (New Dem-VA), Cedric Richmond (New Dem-LA) and Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL). Other Democrats with shady Wall Street ties-- Joyce Beatty (OH), Julia Brownley (CA) and Carolyn Maloney (NY)-- have also jumped on board the Hall bandwagon, as have ambitious corporate whore Gavin Newsom and nearly the entire state legislature, starting with the retired Senate President Pro Tem, Darrell Sternberg, who had played such a key role in getting Vargas out of Sacramento by helping push him into DC. Hall has also been backed by slimy party bosses like LA County Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman and by all the state legislators you read about who block progressive reforms, from Henry Perea, Jim Cooper, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and Autumn Burke to Mike Gipson, Chris Holden and Reggie Jones-Sawyer. But most important to his campaign, Hall has the powerful lobbyists in Sacramento behind him, especially his pals involved with Big Oil.

Last week, Laurel Rosenhall, writing for CALmatters, blew the whistle on the corruption that has been the centerpiece of Hall's career in politics, in "The Juiciest Job in Sacramento." Keep in mind, we're talking about a guy who wears thousand-dollar belts and shoes on a modest legislator's salary.
Around the Capitol they’re known as “juice committees”-- those that oversee lucrative industries, allowing politicians to foster relationships they can squeeze for campaign cash.

These panels preside over business interests that fight obscure industry battles before the Legislature; think of lawyers vs. insurance companies, doctors vs. physical therapists, or card rooms vs. Indian casinos.

“These are non-visible issues that are of high interest to very wealthy groups," said Stacy Gordon Fisher, a political scientist who studied Sacramento's juice committee as a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.

So those groups spend what it takes to get noticed, hiring lobbyists and pouring money into political campaigns.

One of the juiciest committees is responsible for regulating booze, cigarettes and gambling. It was called the "committee on public morals" back in the 1800s but now goes by the more innocuous name: the committee on government organization.

G.O., as the committee is known, is one of the Legislature’s biggest, with a total of 34 members of the Senate and Assembly. Its decisions impact profits for California's gambling factions, card rooms, racetracks and Indian tribes that run casinos. And now, those businesses are bankrolling the political ambitions of the committee's chairman, Sen. Isadore Hall (D-Compton).

Hall landed in the California Senate in December, following a special election in which just 7 percent of those registered turned out to vote. It was the latest in a long string of political victories for Hall, who advanced from the school board in Compton to its city council to the state Assembly. He represents one of California's poorer Senate districts, where about 20 percent of the people live in poverty.

Hall had served less than three months in the state Senate when he announced plans to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), who endorsed him. Through June, he’s raised twice as much money as his closest opponent, attorney Nanette Barragan.

As Hall works to build a campaign war chest for what's likely to be a competitive election next year, about 8 percent of his donors have come from the district he seeks to represent.

Instead, the bulk of them reflect relationships he built as G.O. chairman. 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. Donors include:
Former Assembly Speakers Fabian Núñez and Willie Brown, who have worked as consultants to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in his fight against online poker-- an issue that has come before Hall’s committee for several years.

Pornographer Larry Flynt, who owns the Hustler Casino in Hall's Senate district and pushed for a bill this year that would change a rule about casino ownership.

Sacramento lobbyists David Quintana and Steve Cruz, who represent casino-owning Indian tribes, and Robyn Black, who represents Flynt and horse-racing interests. They routinely lobby bills in Hall’s committee and are forbidden by state law from contributing to a legislator’s state-level campaign. The law does not apply, however, to federal races.

Las Vegas casino executives Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, who company worked with a California tribe to plan a casino near Fresno with the help of a bill carried by Hall.

Seven Indian tribes that run casinos, as well as owners of numerous card rooms and horse racing tracks.
They want to have access to him to have their position heard," said Gordon Fisher, the political scientist who wrote a book called Campaign Contributions and Legislative Voting.

"Over the long term they give him money, he hears them out. There's not necessarily a quid pro quo, but a relationship is built."

Asked about his fundraising, Hall said he didn't want to talk about it while inside the state Capitol. And then he did not respond to follow-up inquiries.

Card room owners are supporting Hall's congressional campaign because he's "a champion of the industry," whose support goes back to his experience in local government, said Jarhett Blonien, a lobbyist who represents several card rooms.

"It's not so much that they're looking for favors, it's that Isadore is their friend and they want to help him out," Blonien said.

Black, the horse-racing lobbyist who gave $500 to Hall's campaign, said her donation is unrelated to the business she has before him. She pointed out that she’s donated to several congressional campaigns across party lines. [With one exception, she has contributed entirely to right-wing Republicans on a federal level-- $2,300 to Romney, $3,000 to Kevin McCarthy, $500 to Mimi Walters and money to the National Republican Congressional Committee.]

"There are members that you get to know because you worked with them here in Sacramento and you just know they’re the kind of person you want representing our state,” Black said.

The message was the same from Quintana, the lobbyist for several casino-owning tribes, who gave $2,000 to Hall's campaign: "I’ve seen him operate in Sacramento… and I think he would make a great congressman."
Blue America has endorsed Nanette Barragán because of her own record as a progressive and an environmental activist willing to stand up to special interests that Hall champions... and to beat them. If you'd like to see her in Congress instead of Hall (and his despicable lobbyist buddies) you can contribute to her campaign here.

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At 1:55 PM, Blogger Anthony Kennerson said...

That note about Larry Flynt donating money to Isadore Hall is very interesting to me, since one of Hall's biggest crusades as a California Assemblyman has been to tote the water for a bill sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation that is roundly opposed by pretty much the entire California adult video industry. That bill would mandate the use of condoms for all explicit sex scenes in porn, in spite of there not having been one recorded case of HIV infection on a porn shoot since 2004; and in spite of the industry already having one of the strongest and most rigorous regimens for testing and screening out STI's such as HIV. Hall has pretty much been the bagman for AHF for his entire political life.

I'm wondering if this attempted switcheroo between Hahn and Hall is as much for AHF to attempt to weasel their way back into the LA City Council, since they've been hard on AHF for possible money laundering and theft of city finances.

At any rate, his defeat would not make me sad at all.


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