Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Ryan's Plan Unpopular With Voters, Not With Industry"

Jessica Levinson is quoted in this story on KCET.org.

Here are some excerpts:

"Contributions given during the budgeting process can raise unique problems because legislators are making decisions which can directly affect that contributor's livelihood and business," said Jessica Levinson...


"It is merely human nature that representatives would consciously or unconsciously be grateful to their large contributors," Levinson said. "That gratefulness can manifest in a budget that is favorable to large contributors."


His donors might have been thrilled, but many of Ryan's constituents weren't. So even if Ryan's 2011 contributions did not, in fact, influence his budgetary decisions, they may have further eroded public support of his policies, Levinson explains.

"[The contributions] may merely be an appearance issue, but appearances are important in a democracy, where every constituent should feel their legislators are making decisions that best serve the public good," she said. "If the public feels that their representatives are more responsive to the needs of contributors, as opposed to constituents, that sentiment can lead to a dangerous erosion of public confidence."

Monday, May 30, 2011

"California Legislators Want Their Gifts"

Jessica Levinson's latest post on KCET.org is here.

Here is an excerpt:

Last week California lawmakers killed a bill that would have prohibited them (and members of their families and other officials) from accepting certain gifts from lobbyists and their employers. Those seeking to curry favor with Golden State legislators take note. The gates of access remain open, for some.

In case you didn't hear, "John Edwards may face criminal charges"

Politico has more.

Should corporations be able to contribute directly to candidates?

Check out the vigorous debate in the comment section of Jessica Levinson's latest Huffington Post article by clicking here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

"Are the State's Watchdog Agencies and Public Campaign Financing all Doomed?"

The Hartford Advocate has more.

"Ex-Newark Mayor Sharpe James accused of using nearly $100K in campaign funds for legal defense"

The New Jersey Star Ledger has more.

"The Influence Industry: ‘Super PACs’ could test campaign finance law"

T.W. Farnam at WaPo has more.

"Not laughing at Colbert"

Ben Smith at Politico has more.

"Judge: Corporate donations ban unconstitutional"

There goes the 1907 Tillman Act?

The AP has more.

"Good Luck Turning the John Edwards Fiasco Into a Campaign-Finance Teaching Moment"

Dee Dee Myers has more in Vanity Fair.

"FEC Falls Short on Enforcement, Commissioner Says"

Roll Call has more.

"Interest groups give differing viewpoints on how new political districts should be drawn in region"

Jessica Levinson is quoted in this piece in the LA Daily News by Dakota Smith.

Here are excerpts:

"Redistricting is a political blood sport for those who understand it," said Jessica Levinson ... "The last redistricting accounted for politicians' desires to keep their districts safe - to make sure they can be re-elected," Levinson said.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Supreme Court orders California to slash prison population by more than 30,000"

Jessica Levinson is quoted in this article in the CSM.

Here is an excerpt:

“Constitutional violations do not wait for recessions or booms. A violation is a violation regardless of whether the state has a surplus or is on the edge of bankruptcy,” says Jessica Levinson ... “It is also time for legislators and members of the electorate to focus not only on the fact that prisons are overcrowded, but why they are so overcrowded,” she says.

Monday, May 23, 2011

"Supreme Court tells California to cut prison population"

More from Julie Small and Mark Sherman at KPCC/AP.

"How Did a Conservative Finish as One of Top-Two Vote-Getters in the Liberal 36th Congressional District?"

Jessica Levinson's latest article on KCET.org is here

Here is an excerpt:

File this under, "I was wrong." In a true political upset, conservative Republican Craig Huey and Democratic Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn bested 14 other candidates in the special election to fill former Rep. Jane Harman's congressional seat. Hahn, daughter of Los Angeles County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, and sister of former Los Angeles Mayor, James Hahn, was widely expected to be among the top-two finishers. Huey was not.

"Do it yourself redistricting comes to LA County"

Can you do it better?

Computer World has more.

"Dems want to paint new Congressional map blue"

The Chicago Sun-Times has more.

"Illinois' Redistricting Map To Oblivion"

"If you had any doubt that the North Side of Chicago was the political center of gravity in Illinois, just look at the new legislative map drawn by Democrats in Springfield. Nearly a dozen Senate districts radiate from the state’s liberal heartland to share the wealth of Democratic voters among as many lucky politicians as possible."

NBC Chicago has more

News from Texas: "Even With New Congressional Seats, Tricky Redistricting Work Isn’t a Priority"

"When it comes to Congressional redistricting in Texas, inaction is louder than words. It’s all but certain now that when Texans go to the polls next year, they’ll elect their 36 members of Congress from maps drawn by federal judges — not by state legislators."

The NYT has more

News from Maryland: "Delegates push for 'lump sum' finance reform"

The Balitmore Sun has more.

"Money isn't everything in winning local elections, campaign finance reports in St. Louis County show"

Is this possible?

More here.

"Committee will review Maine campaign finance bills"

The Portland Press Herald has more.

News from Nevada: "Major Campaign Finance Reform Bill Clears Senate Committee Hurdle"

The Nevada News Bureau has more.

"The Nation: Curbing Campaign Cash"

NPR has more

"The post–Citizens United drive for secret campaign money has now become an arms race."

"Bachmann rivals Obama in success among small donors"


Click here for more.

"Factbox: Guide to enigmatic world of campaign financing"

Reuters has more

"President Barack Obama has begun wooing select crowds of influential campaign donors for his 2012 re-election, while Republican candidates are holding events in halls across the nation to pull in their first millions."

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who is LAUSD's new superintendent?

Jessica Levinson was interviewed for the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams about budget problems facing the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Can Redistricting Improve California?"

Jessica Levinson will be moderating the event, which has an all-star panel. Click here for more information.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Campaign contribution increase plan hits wall"

Jessica Levinson is quoted in the Santa Monica Daily Press:

Jessica Levinson ...  said that the idea of calling groups like SMRR fully independent of the candidates they endorse "troubling."

"It strains reality," Levinson said. "By definition, those are people that are interested in the outcome of races who know candidates or advisors or may have strong ties to candidates or advisors. I think, in reality, expenditures by independent groups are made by people that know candidates and campaigns."

"16 fight for vacant US House seat in California"

The AP has more.

Don't let your ego hit you on the way out, Mr. Trump

More on Trump's decision not to run for president from the following news outlets: Politico, WaPo, Fox News, and LAT.

"Women 2012: Campaign sideshows"??

Dee Dee Meyers has more in Politico here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Attorney looking at statute of limitations in Colonies case"

Jessica Levinson is quoted here.

She said prosecutors have included a special allegation in the indictment that appears, on its surface, to be applicable only to public officials accused of receiving bribes, not private citizens.
And while that may apply to Erwin, Biane and Kirk, it doesn't seem to fit the mold for Burum, Levinson said.
"It doesn't look like he (Burum) would fall within this (Penal Code) subsection," she said.

"Challengers for former Rep. Harman's seat head down home stretch toward May 17 congressional special election"

Jessica Levinson is quoted throughout this article.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"San Bernardino, California: Politicians Gone Wild?"

Jessica Levinson's latest Huffington Post is here

"As if the residents of San Bernardino needed any more bad news about their political officials, the State Attorney General, Kamala Harris, and San Bernardino County District Attorney, Michael Ramos, have just announced that three past and current public officials and one local developer were indicted on, among things, charges of bribery and misappropriation of public funds. As I have previously noted the residents of San Bernardino are unfortunately no strangers to disgraced representatives."

"Proving campaign contribution are bribes no easy task"

Jessica Levinson is quoted here

Here is an excerpt:

Colonies made an additional $100,000 in total contributions to two committees controlled by former Supervisor Bill Postmus, who pleaded guilty in March to accepting a bribe in exchange for his settlement vote. Postmus is cooperating with authorities.
The donations themselves, though, were properly listed on each of the committee's campaign disclosure reports.
Jessica Levinson, an attorney at the Los Angeles-based Center for Government Studies, said proving whether a contribution is a crime, including a bribe, is difficult.
"You do need a level of intent to prove it," she said.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Former public officials indicted on corruption and bribery charges in San Bernardino

More on politicians allegedly behaving badly in San Bernardino from the following news outlets: LAT, AP, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, and Press Enterprise.

"Kane [County] redistricting panel weighs opinions of Hispanic group"

The Chicago Sun Times has more.

"Oklahoma House redistricting plan moves forward"

NewsOK has more.

"Rep. Collin Peterson blasts GOP redistricting map as 'completely political'"

The Minnesota Post has more.

"Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Comes Out Against White House Campaign Finance Disclosure Plan"

The Weekly Standard has more.

"Two Donors Still Biggest Backers of School Board Makeover"

Emily Alpert at Voice of San Diego has more.

"Nonprofit Challenges Arizona Campaign Law"

The Courthouse News Service has more.

Nebraska's Campaign Finance Law Survives

The Lincoln Journal Star has more.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Controversial judicial nominee clears key Senate confirmation hurdle"

"The public-interest lawyer and prominent Democratic political donor from Providence faced a heated campaign against his nomination by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other groups for his work bringing a state lawsuit against paint manufacturers over lead content."

CNN.com has more

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Gov. Nixon vetoes redistricting map for Missouri"

"Nixon, a Democrat, said that the U.S. House map approved last week by the Republican-controlled General Assembly 'does not adequately protect the interests of all Missourians.' He said he made his decision quickly so lawmakers could try again before the legislative session ends May 13."

The AP has more


News from Vermont: "Democrats: Ex-governor's fundraising violated law"

"Just two days after Gov. Peter Shumlin's campaign was hit with charges of soliciting contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session, the Vermont Democratic Party has filed a similar complaint against the former Republican governor's alleged campaign finance violations."

The Battleboro Reformer has more. 

News from Minnesota: "Debate on redistricting quickly turns heated"

"Releasing political plans for Minnesota, the state House sounded the starting gun Tuesday in the partisan blood sport of redistricting."

The Star Tribune has more.

"Oklahoma Senate sends congressional redistricting bill to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature"

"The Oklahoma Senate has sent legislation for Gov. Mary Fallin to sign into law that will redraw Oklahoma's five congressional districts.
The Senate approved the measure on Tuesday by a vote of 37-5. The Senate also voted 35-6 for a bill to will redraw the Legislature's 101 House districts and 48 Senate districts. That bill was sent back to the House for more work."

The AP has more

"Race politics hit North Carolina redistricting"

"The redistricting wars are about to hit North Carolina, and Republicans in the Tar Heel State are considering a controversial but well-worn strategy that has worked elsewhere in the South: Create a new majority-minority district while destroying other districts occupied by white Democrats."

Richard Cohen at Politico has more

"Tiny Alaska towns spend big on government lobbyists"

"Eighteen months ago, the tiny town of Galena faced its demise. The municipal government couldn't make payroll. Rising energy prices and deteriorating facilities -- not to mention winter temperatures dipping below minus 50 degrees -- threatened its 470 residents.
Then, an unlikely hero emerged: a lobbyist."

The Anchorage Daily has more


"Corporations Dominate DC Lobbying in First Quarter"

CNBC has more.

Farewell Sen. John Ensign

Is the saga almost over?

Click on the following news outlets for more: USA Today, Reno Gazette, WSJ, and the AP

D.C. Council Chairperson gives deposition in campaign finance probe

"Last month, the OCF released an audit that found Brown failed to initially report several hundred thousand dollars in contributions and expenses from his 2008 reelection campaign. Auditors also alleged that some of Brown’s campaign funds went to his brother, Che Brown, for work he performed on the campaign."

WaPo has more

News from Nebraska: "Lawmakers debate campaign finance act"

"Lawmakers began debate Tuesday on a bill to repeal the Nebraska law meant to level the financial playing field in political campaigns."

The Journal Star has more

"San Bernardino County Ethics 'Advocate' Charged in Criminal Corruption Case"

Jessica Levinson's latest post on KCET.org is here.

"When one of the most visible elected officials pushing for ethics reforms is charged in a criminal corruption case, there is a problem."