Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"Passion at polls? Democrats look to widen Sacramento advantage"

Great to talk to Melody Gutierrez for this one

Jessica Levinson, a law professor who teaches political ethics at Loyola University of Los Angeles, said the criminal cases could help Republicans this election.

“It’s a great talking point to voters to say 8 percent of the state Senate faced indictment or conviction and they were all Democrats,” Levinson said. “They were three separate scenarios that happened at the same time, but we have six more weeks to go and I think that’s something we will hear more about.”
While candidates work hard to mobilize voters, Levinson said there appears to be an overall apathy.
“The story line is we are fighting so hard to get a few voters out,” she said. “I think we are going to see record low voter turnout. It’s sort of the, 'Oh, yeah, we have an election’ election.”

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Walmart's Plan To Encourage Political Donations Violates Election Law, Groups Claim"

Great to speak with Jillian Berman for this one in the Huffington Post. 
Though the FEC commissioners probably didn't envision a setup like Walmart's when they first approved charitable matching donations, that doesn't mean it's illegal, according to Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, who studies election law.
"Does the ratio raise some eyebrows? Yes. Does this directly fly in the face of the statute? I don't think so," Levinson said. "Welcome to the world of campaign-finance laws, where no one knows what loopholes will be used."

"E-mails suggest Mike Honda’s staff mixed fundraising, House work"

Always wonderful to speak with Carla Marinucci. Click here for the story. 

'Pay to play’
Jessica Levinson, a law professor who teaches political ethics at Loyola University of Los Angeles, said the e-mails are suggestive of “pay to play” politics.
“As far as I can see, those are clear violations and worth talking about,” she said.
But she said the impact on Honda’s campaign — even if it is found to be a violation — could be minimal because voters have become numb to the connection between campaign donations and official business.
“Voters say, 'Tell me something I don’t know,’” she said. “They say, 'Of course they’re organizing their official duties according to what will benefit their campaign — and of course, people with more money will have access to more officials,’” Levinson said.
Not hot-button issue
“But campaign finance and election law issues don’t really get people to the polls.” Levinson said. “It’s more about, 'What have you done for me lately?’”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

"Red-light camera contractor spent thousands on meals for Sacramento County and CHP employees"

Great to speak with Tony Bizjak of the Sac Bee for this one.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson, a government ethics expert, said the scenario doesn’t appear to be illegal but that it does prompt questions about whether the contract process was fair.

“Even if it is not a corrupt relationship, it doesn’t look good,” said Levinson, who is a member of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. “It tells a story of a company trying to curry favor with the government and tells the public that government is where people go who can pay to play.”

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/21/6723295/red-light-camera-contractor-spent.html#storylink=cpy

Expand free speech by limiting political money

Here is my latest op-ed in the Sacramento Bee. 

Here is an excerpt:

But I have something to tell you. There is no tooth fairy, Santa Claus does not exist, and money is not speech. Seriously, it just isn’t. Money facilitates speech. Money allows politicians and political committees and others to reach a wider audience with greater frequency. Let’s stop this nonsense. Money and speech should not be treated as equivalent.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/21/6721114/jessica-a-levinson-expand-free.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Neel Kashkari speech in 'hangover slot' at state GOP convention"

Always wonderful to speak with Carla Marinucci.

"That's the hangover slot," said Jessica Levinson, a law school professor who teaches political ethics at Loyola University of Los Angeles.
The prime speaking slots, which traditionally garner the most media coverage, are going to a pair of nationally prominent Republicans. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a possible presidential candidate in 2016, will star at the Saturday luncheon, and newly named House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield will headline the Saturday evening dinner.
Kashkari, on the other hand, is being grouped in the Sunday post-breakfast general assembly with other candidates for statewide office.
With polls showing Kashkari 21 points behind Gov. Jerry Brown and running on fumes against the Democrat's $22 million bankroll, it may be no mystery why he isn't getting star billing or more robust grassroots backing, Levinson said.
"I do think he's trying to move the party toward the center," she said. "But a candidate who will lose badly and is not being embraced by the party is not revolutionizing."
Levinson said that among activist Republicans, there's more excitement for other statewide candidates like Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, running for state controller - who will speak at a Friday night event highlighting GOP women - and secretary of state candidate Pete Peterson, because both are within comfortable distance of their Democratic opponents.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Jerry Brown surges ahead with the 'non-campaign' campaign"

Always wonderful to talk to Carla Marinucci of the SF Chron. More on Jerry Brown's non-campaign here. 

Brown's strategy is "a non-campaign, which makes it a very smart campaign," said Jessica Levinson, who teaches political ethics as a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
The 76-year-old Brown, who first held statewide office in 1971, "doesn't need to introduce himself" to voters, Levinson said. "He has better name recognition than anyone else in the state. His platform is totally known. He's been governing since the Earth cooled."
And clearly, she said, "he's running against someone people don't even know."

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"New finance disclosure tool lists top campaign spenders"

Wonderful to speak with Melanie Mason at the Los Angeles Times for this piece. 

Jessica A. Levinson, an election law professor at Loyola Law School, said the format of the top 10 supporters and opponents “is a way of getting the voters cues about what these ballot measures really do.”

“Most voters will figure [for example] ‘my interests are generally aligned with Realtors or environmentalists,’” she said. “For a lot of people, that shortcut is a lot more useful than going through the proposed language [of the measure], which is frankly not as accessible.”

The law also seeks to curb anonymous political spending by requiring an organization to reveal its donors if it spends or contributes at least $50,000 in one year or more than $100,000 in four consecutive years.

"Prosecutors ask judge to sentence Richard Alarcon to 180 days in jail"

Great to talk with Soumya Karlamangla for this piece in the Los Angeles Times.

Jessica Levinson, an election law professor at Loyola Law School, said the recommended sentence for Alarcon seems reasonable given the nature of the crime. Because these aren't violent crimes, prosecutors are less likely to push for the maximum possible sentence, she said.

"In a lot of ways, the victory is the conviction," she said. "It's the idea that you did this, you broke the law, that's a problem, and you will face some sort of punishment."

Friday, September 5, 2014

"California Debate: No Knockout Moment for Kashkari"

Great to speak with Alejandro Lazo at the WSJ for this one.

“He showed himself to be a very prepared and articulate debater. I don’t know what Neel Kashkari is going to run for next, but I don’t think he hurt his cause,” said Jessica A. Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who focuses on government.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Obama approval rating slumping even in bluest of the blue California"

Great to talk to Dan Wood of the Christian Science Monitor for this one

Whatever the cause, a slump in popularity in the bluest of the blue states "may mean that President Obama's coattails are increasingly small," says Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.