Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Government workers are a voting power in Sacramento area"

Great to talk to Jon Ortiz of the Sacramento Bee for this article

Government workers will be potent voting blocs in all three elections, said Jessica Levinson, a campaign expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, particularly in this low-key election year. 
“They are a group more likely to turn out,” she said. “They’re more invested in the government because they’re a part of it.”
Some of the state’s largest public-employee unions have endorsed Pan, who is a regular at rallies and has carried legislation to curtail job outsourcing. Dickinson has written bills to expand civil-service protections, eliminate criminal-history questions on civil-service job applications and to move state employees out of the defective Board of Equalization headquarters. 
A cynic would say those worker-protection bills were pandering to the base, Levinson said. But simply because a measure is politically savvy doesn’t mean the politician doesn’t believe in it. 
“And given the electorate, in a sense, it would be stupid not to do things like that,” she said.

Read more here:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"L.A. County supervisorial race a money battle between labor, business"

Wonderful to speak with Catherine Saillant of the Los Angeles Times for this article

The fundraising underscores that although both are liberal-leaning Democrats, Kuehl is viewed as more labor-friendly and Shriver more sympathetic toward business, said Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson, who studies elections.

Yaroslavsky, also a Democrat, is considered a swing vote on the Board of Supervisors, and he's built a reputation as a fiscal watchdog willing to stand up to employee unions. The stakes in the race are high because the winner would be the deciding vote on a variety of spending and policy issues, including pay-and-benefit packages for the county's 100,000-member workforce and how tightly development will be regulated.

"What we're deciding is how far left of center is the next county supervisor going to be," Levinson said.

Friday, October 24, 2014

"Shriver-Kuehl supervisorial race takes on a confrontational tone"

Great to talk to Catherine Saillant of the Los Angeles times for this article

Political and election experts say candidates often turn to negative advertising because it works, particularly with low-information voters who tune in to a race in the last days. In a close race, attack ads can make the difference, said Jessica Levinson, who teaches election law at Loyola Law School.

"Negative advertising hits a chord with a lot of voters,'' Levinson said. "They may not be able to say why they're voting for Shriver. They just remember there's something they heard about Kuehl that they don't like."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"California candidates pour on negative ads as election nears"

Great to speak with John Wildermuth at the San Francisco Chronicle for this story

“With negative ads, it’s more about defeating your opponent than getting yourself elected,” said Jessica Levinson, who teaches election law at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “It’s always easier to say why you don’t like someone.”


Hail Mary” ads like Kashkari’s late in the campaign “don’t come from someone who’s a competitive candidate,” Levinson said. “It comes because a candidate decides that some buzz is better than no buzz.”
But it’s also an act of optimism, a sign of a politician’s natural belief that anything is possible until all the votes are counted, she said.

"Jerry Brown expresses support for strong-mayor systems"

Good to talk to Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee again for this article about Measure L. 

Jessica Levinson, an ethics and campaign expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said Rhee’s voter registration would not have been a campaign issue had she “been forthcoming with it earlier.”
“It fundamentally boils down to whether the public is going to trust her argument less because she’s advocating for something she can’t vote on,” Levinson said. “It will likely be the case that some people will want to hear from her because they think she’s an expert and other people will say this doesn’t affect you, why are you weighing in?”

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Would strong mayor be good for Sacramento? Experts say it depends"

Great to talk to Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee for this article. 

“It’s ultimately an act of faith to create a strong mayor,” said Jessica Levinson, an elections expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “It’s one of those instances where if people like the mayor, they want him or her to be a strong mayor. And that system can be more efficient, but if you pick someone who is a dithering idiot and is the essence of inefficiency, then no, it doesn’t work.”

Read more here:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Schools officials face political penalties"

News from Riverside, CA. 

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson, who is vice president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, said the reporting regulations are complicated. However, she said, the information is important for the public to hold officials accountable. 

"Court sends a message in sentencing ex-L.A. Councilman Richard Alarcon"

Always great to talk with Soumya Karlamanga of the Los Angeles Times for this article. 

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who studies election laws, said she thinks Lomeli's decision to give jail time "sends a message that we're serious about these kinds of convictions." She said she thinks Alarcon's sentence will have an effect on reducing residency law crimes in the Los Angeles region, and that only "people that possess an enormous amount of hubris" will still try to lie about where they live to run for office.

"Mirkarimi domestic violence issue haunts Assembly race"

Great to talk to Marisa Lagos of the San Francisco Chronicle for this article

“I don’t think you can over-politicize domestic violence,” she said. “I think it’s a very political issue, as we’ve seen.”
Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Marymount University who specializes in election and governance issues, said it’s not surprising to see the issue become front and center in the race, considering its emotional nature and the fact that linking a candidate’s name with a domestic abuse case “loses votes.”
“This is all about what gets voters’ attention,” she said. “The mere association with domestic violence can be harmful.”

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Carefree Gov. Brown vetoes freely, ruffling some fellow Democrats"

Wonderful to talk to Melody Gutierrez of the San Francisco Chronicle for this article. 

“You are seeing 'Dem vs. Dem’ vetoes,” said Jessica Levinson, who teaches election law and governance at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “It’s symbolic of the fact he’s not scared of the California Legislature and he thinks he can work with them regardless if he vetoes certain bills.”
During his current term, Brown's four-year track record with vetoes moves him closer to the 15 percent to 16 percent average veto rate of his Republican gubernatorial predecessors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian and former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis
Former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed an average of 26 percent of the bills sent to him during his seven years in office.
“It is one of the most aggressive moves a governor can make,” Levinson said. “It’s an act of confidence in oneself to veto.”

"Trailing in polls, California candidate offers scholarships, gift cards"

Wonderful to speak with Sharon Bernstein of Reuters for this article. 

Trailing in the polls and getting little media coverage, California's Republican candidate for governor handed out $40,000 in scholarships on Tuesday, just two weeks after offering gift cards to attendees at a campaign event.
Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official who is challenging popular Democratic Governor Jerry Brown in the lopsidedly Democratic state, is offering the incentives as his campaign trails Brown's by double digits in the weeks before November's election.
"Candidates spend money to reach the voters and get support and that’s what he’s doing," said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "It’s just more in your face than what we typically see."

"California power regulator to exit amid criticism"

Great to speak with Ellen Knickmeyer of the AP for this one

Brown is headed into a November re-election ballot with a wide lead over his little-known Republican challenger. He had nothing to gain politically from taking public note of a scandal that still was below many voters' radar, said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola University law professor, political analyst and vice president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

Brown late last month vetoed ethics bills — regulating campaign donations and gifts — that lawmakers had presented in response to other political scandals.

"I don't think that he's running on a pro-reform platform right now," Levinson noted. With Peevey stepping aside, "Brown's breezy re-election has just gotten even breezier."

"Here’s Why Gwyneth Paltrow Doesn’t Belong in Politics"

To meet Obama, to tell him that “it would be wonderful if we were able to give this man all of the power that he needs to pass the things that he needs to pass,” all that was needed was a $15,000 dinner ticket. The issue is not whether Paltrow is a working mother or not, but that she has the power to tell the president that, unlike so many American voters. “He’s not out there meeting ordinary people. He’s out there listening to the views of those who can afford to give him lots of money,” Jessica Levinson, a campaign finance researcher at Loyola Law School, told The Guardian last year. “Over time, this is bound to have a distorting [effect] on your views of the world.”


In fact, according campaign finance experts, the growth of presidential solicitation shows how fundraising has become a permanent and dangerous fixture of American politics. Since the Reagan administration, the number of fundraising events attended by sitting presidents has been increasing. That trend is dangerous because “the downside of all this time spent away from office is the time the president is not doing his job as chief executive, promoting legislation or working with Congress,” Levinson told The Guardian. “As more money is dropped into the political process it has become a self-perpetuating cycle, requiring politicians to spend ever more time seeking donations rather than governing. It’s an imperfect use of his time.”

More here

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Jessica Levinson sits in for Ian Masters"

I had a great time guest hosting Background Briefing on Monday. Wonderful speak with Dahlia Liwthwick about the Supreme Court, Jean Merl about politics in California, and Jojo Liu about the juvenile justice system. Audio is here

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

SCOTUS, SSM, Politics, and Criminal Justice

Last night I had the opportunity to guest host a radio program. In the program I had the honor of speaking with Dahlia Lithwick of Slate about the Supreme Court and same sex marriage, Jean Merl of the Los Angeles Times about politics in California, and Jojo Liu of Loyola Law School about the juvenile justice system. The audio recording to the program is here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Metro to rename rail stations for Zev Yaroslavsky, Gloria Molina"

Nice to speak with Laura Nelson of the Los Angeles Times for this piece

Some government ethics experts say the decision could raise eyebrows. It's wiser for public agencies to wait until an elected official has left office, then use the "Mt. Rushmore test," weighing whether his or her work has stood the test of time, said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School.

"Even if this is done with good intentions, it makes sense to wait for them to cycle off the board," Levinson said.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Jerry Brown vetoes California political ethics bills"

A pleasure to speak with David Siders at the Sacramento Bee for this piece.
Jessica Levinson, a campaign finance and ethics expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said much of the legislation made “great talking points on the campaign trail” but was so minor that, even if enacted, it would not “change the way business is done in Sacramento.”
“There was this reaction like, everybody needs an ethics bill,” she said.

Read more here:

"Statewide ban on disposable plastic bags is signed into law by Brown"

Great to talk to Melanie Mason for this piece in the Los Angeles Times

But Jessica Levinson, an election-law professor at Loyola Law School, disagreed, saying Brown was right to reject lawmakers' "knee-jerk reaction" to the recent scandals, which included federal corruption charges as well as perjury and voter fraud convictions for the other.

"There was a lot of political will to propose ethics reform," she said, "but Jerry Brown … understands that more regulation isn't always good regulation.