Thursday, December 24, 2015

Los Angeles "D.A.'s office can try to oust Carson mayor from water board, attorney general says"

Terrific to speak with Richard Winton of the Los Angeles Times for this piece.

Jessica Levinson, a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School who serves on the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, said the attorney general's office typically grants permission to allow such suits to proceed. The office "clearly found Robles' arguments to be less than compelling," Levinson said. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"Leader of Legislature's moderate Democrats will resign to seek government relations job"

Great to speak with Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times for this scoop

“In some ways the revolving door provisions are somewhat symbolic,” said Jessica Levinson, professor of election law at Loyola University in Los Angeles and an expert on political ethics.

Levinson, who serves as president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, said revolving door limits are meant to reduce perception that former legislators are using elected office as stepping stones for personal gain — or that sitting lawmakers are unduly influenced by former colleagues.
“We don’t totally trust lawmakers to cycle in and out of government,” Levinson said. “If everyone was altruistic and honest all the time, we wouldn’t have the Political Reform Act,” which sets ethical standards for politicians.

"PAC shielded $2.3 million in donations by L.A. charter school backers"

Great to speak with Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times for this one

Recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have presumed that voters would have full knowledge of who was contributing to campaigns when it struck down many limits on the amount of donations, said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who specializes in election law and heads the L.A. City Ethics Commission.
"The purposes of the disclosure laws are to give the public information, which is much more useful the faster it comes," said Levinson. "The concern is that you can use an intermediary and, essentially, legally mask who is behind a donation.

Friday, November 27, 2015

"Gavin Newsom Talks His Three Big Issues For 2016"

Wonderful to speak with Marisa Lagos for this piece on KQED.

Jessica Levinson, a law professor who studies campaign and ethics issues at Loyola Marymount University, said it’s all part and parcel of the Gavin Newsom playbook: Play to a liberal base, get ahead on issues that are controversial now but will likely be more broadly embraced in a couple years and also, yes, focus on more mainstream issues like the economy while you are at it.

She said it’s a smart strategy.

“I think Gavin Newsom knows his brand very well, and it’s using his office and using ballot measures to really try and come out clearly as a solid liberal — and maybe just a few years ahead of the curve,” she said.

“So by the time we are voting for governor,” she added, “we will be looking at Gavin Newsom and saying, ‘You had ESP, you knew where the state was going when it came to minimum wage, you knew where things were trending when it came to pot and you saw the importance of stronger gun control before other people were acting on it.’ ”

‘He Embraces Being a Liberal Democrat’

Levinson said Newsom’s positions may be risky for a moderate, but “he can’t run away from the fact that he’s a liberal Democrat, so I think he’s basically decided to embrace it.”

She noted the lieutenant governor is also talking about the economy and water — “he just made a trip to the Central Valley” — but that voters won’t be paying attention to the actual governor’s race for a year or more anyway, so it makes sense to lay the groundwork around other issues.

“I think he is going to be one of the top contenders, and he’s basically laying claim to a number of areas now,” Levinson said, noting Newsom has been “trying to lose the lieutenant part of his title since before the day he was sworn in.”

She said it’s smart to use ballot measures to burnish his political credentials for another reason: Initiatives are not subject to the same campaign finance limits that candidates are.

“You can tie yourself to an issue without the same rubric of money restrictions, and in some ways it’s less risky, because if a ballot initiative goes down, it’s not a referendum on you as a candidate,” she said.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"New Watchdog Overseeing ‘Pay to Play’ Politics in San Francisco"

Great to speak with Ted Goldberg for this piece on KQED.

Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who is now the president of the L.A. commission, worked with Pelham years ago.

“She’s no shrinking violet,” Levinson said in an interview. “She’s going to do what she thinks is right, she’ll listen to the stakeholders, the commissioners, members of the reform community and the regulated community,” Levinson said. “I don’t think she’s going to come in there with a ‘it’s my way or the highway,’ but I do think she knows how to run an agency.”

"Presidential debates’ shift: Terror attacks change game"

Great to talk with John Wildermuth for this piece.

Sanders “wants to talk about economic inequality and issues like that,” said Jessica Levinson, a political analyst and law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “But with the debate shifting to foreign policy, that’s not in his wheelhouse.”

“The establishment candidates are in a state of shock,” Levinson said. “They keep looking at their watches and wondering when (Trump and Carson) will crater.”

They want to winnow the field, Levinson said, and know “it’s time to step it up and knock Trump and Carson off their pedestals,” either at the debate or before.
“It isn’t going to be a scorched-earth campaign,” with Clinton’s two opponents willing to do anything to pull Clinton down, Levinson said. “We saw that (in an October debate) when Sanders wasn’t willing to challenge her on her (State Department) e-mails.”

"S.F. Ethics Commission hires director with long experience in L.A."

Nice to speak with Lizzie Johnson for this one

Pelham will be an effective director because she comes from a reform background and understands what the job entails, said Jessica Levinson, president of the Ethics Commission in Los Angeles and a professor at Loyola Law School.

“It’s very rare to get someone who has already done this job in a different jurisdiction and knows how to handle the various stakeholders,” Levinson said. “LeeAnn knows how to run an agency. She is educated on the goals, which are policy proposal and enforcement action. I think she’s going to be really thoughtful about what can be done in the current legal framework.”

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Opinion Pages: Ann Ravel

Check out our amazing ‪#‎FEC‬ Chair Ann Ravel in the NYT! 

And here is what she generously said about who she is following:
"My new favorite site is, where members share links. It’s always interesting. I feel I’m becoming more informed about our culture. On Twitter, I follow reform groups like Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21, Common Cause. But I also follow people like Gov Jerry Brown, Prof.Jessica Levinson, campaign finance lawyer Marc Elias and Ellen Weintraub, my fellow F.E.C. commissioner."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"San Jose mayor hides calls with his 'kitchen cabinet'"

Great to speak with Ramona Giwargis for this piece. 

"If they are discussing city business," said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, "the people have a right to know."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

"Independent spending in California: Money talks, candidates listen"

More great reporting by Laurel Rosenhall. 

In a hotel ballroom blocks from the state Capitol, nearly three dozen wannabe legislators gathered recently to learn the ways of Sacramento. They were members of city councils and school boards, ranchers and attorneys, Republicans and Democrats, moms and dads -- all candidates for the Legislature who had signed up for this crash course in how things really work.
High on the agenda: money.

"The accountability behind that is much less," said Jessica Levinson, a professor of election law at Loyola Law School. "We have candidate campaigns and then we have these shadow campaigns."

"Lobbyist meetings missing from San Jose council calendars"

Wonderful to speak with Ramona Giwargis for this article

"It presents the public with a very misleading view about how their officials spend their day," said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. "We're not asking them to tell us when they were at their kid's soccer game. It's in the public's interest to be able to know who the legislators are meeting with and how often."

"Tax Records Show Millions Raised For Police Youth Charity Went To Telemarketers"

Good to speak with Derek Shore for this piece

“Frankly, it’s just a disgusting misuse of the nonprofit forum, because people are in good faith saying ‘I want to help,’” said Jessica Levinson, a law professor and chair of the L.A. Ethics Commission.
“You’re seeing upwards of 80 percent not used for the charitable purpose. So used for paying telemarketers, used for overhead, miscellaneous expenses,” she said.

"Airbnb has spent more than $200,000 on lobbying efforts in LA"

A pleasure to be on KPCC to discuss.

"Airbnb is spending... a not insignificant amount of money lobbying the city of L.A.," said Jessica Levinson, the president of the L.A. City Ethics Commission. She said the money pays for access to local lawmakers, which lobbyists jockey for.

"A lot of it is paying for people’s time, it’s paying for people’s connections, it’s paying for people’s expertise in knowing who to talk to, how to talk to them and when to approach them," said Levinson.

"Garcetti email flap shows fuzzy line between governing, campaigning"

“The basic rule is, whatever happens on the taxpayer dime should be serving your constituents,” says Jessica Levinson, president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

Distinguishing between a candidate and an official can be complicated, and so can navigating local, state and federal law

It’s hard to say definitely where the public official ends and the campaigner begins, Levinson says.

“It’s all a line drawn in the sand on a windy day.... Those lines can be difficult because elected officials are public servants, but they’re also political animals.”

To illustrate the problem, Levinson poses a scenario: Should a mayor’s security detail be allowed to accompany him, for instance, to a fundraising event? “If we decide as a public that it’s important to protect this person and keep them safe, then that would be true regardless of what the elected official is doing,” Levinson says. “But the taxpayers are then facilitating a political activity.”

"Money and clout on the line for teachers union in 2016"

Always good to talk with Laurel Rosenhall for this.

A ruling against CTA at the U.S. Supreme Court could weaken all public employee unions because many workers will stop paying dues, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute. That would strike a significant blow to CTA, said Jessica Levinson, a professor of political law at Loyola Law School.

“The thing that makes unions powerful is the vast sums of money they can use to exert political influence,” Levinson said, so any reduction in funds “is going to be a loss to their power.”

"Suppression of public participation or greater efficiency? Inglewood makes council meetings earlier"

Terrific to speak with Angel Jennings for this one

Jessica Levinson, a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School who serves on the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, said Inglewood is not an outlier. In California, several city councils, including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose, convene in the mornings and early afternoon.
“What strikes me as unusual is that they are moving from a time that was preferable for people who might have trouble getting there in the middle of the day to a less convenient time,” she said.

"Inside California lawmakers’ paid trips to Maui"

Great to speak with Alexei Koseff for this piece

It may not make much of a difference to voters, who see moneyed interests able to buy a different seat at the table than they get, Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said.
“It strains common sense to think that a special interest would fund a lawmaker’s trip to Hawaii and the lawmaker wouldn’t feel some modicum of gratitude,” said Levinson, who is president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.
Legislators vehemently reject such a characterization.
“Especially on the left, whenever someone loses, they want to say it’s because the whole system is corrupt,” said Wright, who resigned from the Legislature last year after being convicted of eight felonies for lying about where he lived when he was elected. Now retired, he was attending the conference as a friend of Howle’s. “Maybe I just thought your idea was bull–.”

Read more here:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"Children of Top DA Officials Get Coveted Jobs"

Good to talk to Adam Elmahrek for this one. 

Jessica Levinson -- a clinical professor of law at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission – said candidates shouldn’t be disqualified just because their parents are high-ranking officials.
But it did give her pause that, of the handful hired out of a pool of 500, two happened to be children of top DA officials.
“You can definitely look at the numbers and ask would they have otherwise been hired?” said Levinson, whose husband works in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. “And that’s very difficult to answer.”

"AP Exclusive: Brown had state workers research oil on ranch"

Great to speak with Ellen Knickmeyer for this one

Jessica Levinson, a governance expert and professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said that if state regulators had done that kind of work before for private landowners, they should be able to provide examples.
Of Brown's request, Levinson said, "if no other private individual is able to avail himself of this opportunity, and it's clearly just for personal gain instead of public benefit, then it's clearly problematic."

Read more here:

"California Lawmakers Head to Maui with Lobbyists"

Breitbart article.

“Those corporations want to curry favor with elected officials,” Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor and president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission told theLos Angeles Times. 

"California Gov. Jerry Brown Ordered State Workers To Research Oil Drilling On His Ranch"

BuzzFeed article

Other experts agreed, saying that state officials typically do not provide private citizens with the kind of help Brown got. And Jessica Levinson — a governance expert at Loyola Law School — questioned the ethics of Brown’s request, telling the AP that “if no other private individual is able to avail himself of this opportunity, and it’s clearly just for personal gain instead of public benefit, then it’s clearly problematic.”

"L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's endorsement of Hillary Clinton hits embarrassing snag"

Good to talk to Peter Jamison for this one
“I think that city and state law is pretty clear that you don’t use the taxpayer dime to send out campaign endorsements,” said city Ethics Commission President Jessica Levinson. “And the taxpayer dime includes both workers and infrastructure.”
Levinson declined to comment specifically on the mayor’s presidential endorsement, saying the incident could come before her panel for consideration of possible sanctions.

Monday, October 26, 2015

"Most City of Industry council members work for the city’s highest paid contractors"

Great to speak with Jason Henry for this article

Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, said the number of council members with conflicts seemed unusual, but that she would be more worried if they didn’t recuse themselves or disclose their ties.
“In a perfect world, you get invested, well-qualified people who don’t have any personal stake in the city other than wanting to do a good job, but no one lives in that perfect world,” Levinson said. “Some of this is bound to happen, but the number is particularly high in this case, and the relationship is particularly direct.”

"Merced mayor questions ethics of firm hired for HSR planning"

Nice to speak with Thaddeus Miller for this article

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, said as long as all the firms were allowed the opportunity for access to the members of the council, Hatch Mott MacDonald was not given special attention.
But she noted it’s best to compare apples to apples.
“What you’d want is rewarding a contract just based on who’s qualified, not who’s had the most contact and the best relationship with council,” she said.

Read more here:

"Political nonprofit spent nearly 100 percent of funds to elect Tillis in ’14"

Great to speak with Robert Maquire for this piece. 

“If a 501(c)(4) spends on a number of different candidates,” says Jessica Levinson, professor at Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles, “then it may be easier to argue with a straight face that they are touting an agenda, not a particular candidate.”
Levinson said that groups like Carolina Rising “can rest assured in the belief that the IRS and the FEC are unlikely to take any action.”

"Sacramento County elections chief tied to group chosen to review her office"

Great to speak with Brad Branan for this one

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said the Election Center should not conduct the review.
“Talk about undermining its credibility,” said Levinson, an expert in elections law and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. “You don’t want these questions of impartiality. ... It’s not the cleanest of arrangements.”

Read more here:

Friday, October 16, 2015

"Berkeley councilman profited from police chief's public home loan"

A treat to speak to Thomas Peele for this one. 

It is obvious that Capitelli "shouldn't have taken" Meehan as a client, said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola University law professor and the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission's president. "His vote ended up financially benefiting him."

"Regulators propose rules to prevent illegal coordination"

Wonderful to speak with Judy Lin of the AP for this one.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said the state's proposal might simply push more of the fundraising to candidates and parties.

"California is trying to come out in front of this issue and, frankly, severely restrict the number of IEs that will be considered independent," Levinson said. "Increasingly it's a question of how and where do you want the money to flow, not whether it's going to flow."

"State Fines Fullerton Councilwoman $100 for Late Disclosure"

Great to speak with Adam Elmahrek for this piece

“A lot of times [the disclosures] are not particularly meaningful, and this is... a poster child example,” Jessica Levinson, president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, stated in the article.

"California Legislature's ballot power in court test"

Pleased to speak with Howard Mintz for this one

"It's a case of first impression," said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola University law professor specializing in election law. "This shouldn't be about whether you like Citizens United. It should be about what the Legislature gets to use the ballot for."

"Lt. Gov. Newsom rolls out tough new assault weapons ban"

Great to speak with John Wildermuth for this one.  

“There’s a huge benefit to putting out a ballot initiative,” said Jessica Levinson, who teaches classes in election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “It’s a way to get out your positions and increase your visibility that isn’t subject to the same sort of campaign finance restrictions a candidate faces.”
There’s nothing illegal about blurring the line between an initiative and a would-be candidate who supports it, although it’s a way of gaming a system that treats the finances of ballot measures and office seekers very differently, Levinson said.
Newsom has always been incredibly good at political timing, she said, being out front of the same-sex marriage issue, marijuana legalization — also likely to be on the November 2016 ballot — and now gun control.
“Would he have been as involved if he wasn’t running for office? Possibly not,” Levinson said. “But is that anything nefarious? Probably not, it’s just the way politics is played.”

"In Sacramento, Limits Are Few on Revolving Door Between Government and Private Jobs"

Terrific to talk with John Myers for this one.

“This is somewhat different than just a private individual changing jobs,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola School of Law in Los Angeles and president of the city’s ethics commission. “The revolving door is more like a swing right now, where you can run through it pretty easily.”
In other words, a former adviser to a governor can immediately lobby the Legislature.

“That’s certainly an indication that the restrictions aren’t particularly stringent,” said Loyola Law School’s Levinson.
“When it comes to the revolving door, we are drawing these lines that just allow for an enormous amount of influence-peddling to still occur,” said Loyola law professor Levinson. “Part of this is, there is no perfect law.”

"Angelenos Never Much Cared About Local Politics"

My latest op-ed is up on Zocalo Public Square.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

"California Ballot Measure to Revolutionize Disclosure of Political Money"

Honored to have been asked to weigh in on this. 

"The public has the right to know who is spending money to try to sway their ballot box decisions. If money is speech, voters must know who is speaking to them," Jessica Levinson Clinical Professor of Law at Loyola Law School.

"GOP debate is a tug-of-war for the Reagan mantle"

Always such fun to speak with Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle (soon to be moving to Politico).

Jessica Levinson, who teaches political ethics at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, says winning the rights to the Reagan legacy isn’t even much of a contest.

“Who is the the next Ronald Reagan?’’ she asks. “None of them. It’s like, ‘Will the real Slim Shady please stand up,?’” evoking a famed question from rapper Eminem’s landmark work.

‘Movie star quality’

That’s because the vaunted Reagan shadow looms large over the culture, and the country — both among Republicans who hold him in awe, or Democrats who often hold him in contempt, she said.

“There was a movie star quality about him that appealed to the nation then,” in a way that will likely never be replicated in the age of social media, she said.

To his party, Reagan is still revered for his “ability to inspire, to make us feel better about the country we live in,” Levinson said. “And whether you think he was a positive or a negative, he did represent a sea change in terms of our expectations of what government should do for us — a paradigm shift.”

"Moderate Assembly Democrats emerge as powerful pro-business force"

Great to speak with Jessica Calefati for this piece. 

"Sophisticated, well-funded special interests are playing a long game," said Jessica Levinson, a campaign finance expert and Loyola Law School professor. "It makes a lot of sense to invest early in people who are attuned to your needs and are in position to vote your way when the time comes."

"Investigation: Candidates enrich themselves with campaign cash, gifts, travel"

Terrific to speak with Rachel Baye for this one

Even when legal, some expenses still might not be appropriate, said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who specializes in campaign finance.
“The line should be drawn a bit more stringently to really say these are funds that were given to allow you, legislator, to get your message out to obtain voters, and these aren't funds that were given out so that you could obtain personal perks,” said Levinson, also president of Los Angeles' Ethics Commission. “A lot of what we're seeing here looks more like personal perks than bona fide governmental or legislative purposes.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

"Carson mayor under investigation for not filing disclosure reports with the state"

Great to speak with Nathan Fenno, Paul Pringle, and Richard Winton on the Los Angeles Times for this one

Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor and president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, said it was unusual for an elected official to not file multiple statements, as opposed to submitting one past the deadline. "A penalty may very well be appropriate," Levinson said.

"San Jose commission will investigate nearly the entire City Council"

Great to talk to Ramona Giwargis of the San Jose Mercury News for this one

But a political ethics expert said the commission made a fair decision. "A comprehensive investigation seems like a rational response to the allegations," said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Marne Foster’s ‘a Mother First’ – for Better or Worse

Good to speak with Mario Koran of the Voice of San Diego for this piece.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and vice president of the L.A. Ethics Commission, was more frank.
“What she did was clearly inappropriate,” she said. “I mean, is it treason? No. But when we take a step back and look at why we even create ethical rules, they’re meant for situations like this.” 

Compton mayor's charity tie-in to State of the City talk raises eyebrows

Good to speak with Angel Jennings for this important piece in the Los Angeles Times. 

Jessica Levinson, a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, said that charities that receive payment at politicians' behest should be scrutinized to ensure they are legitimate.

"You look for certain things, like is it closely associated with the politician or her family," she said. "In this case, yes it is.... The closer the nonprofit is to financially benefiting the politician, the more problematic it is."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

L.A. wants more details about business groups that donate to city campaigns

More great reporting by Emily Alpert Reyes for this piece in the Los Angeles Times. 

At a meeting Wednesday, commissioners said they wanted city staffers to come up with ways to require corporations, limited liability companies and other "non-individual" campaign donors to publicly disclose more information about who controls them. The concern, said commission President Jessica Levinson, is that "it is really difficult to follow the money."


Levinson said such information was useful, but that it didn't address the broader question of whether such donations were sufficiently transparent to the public.

Can Carly Fiorina overcome past political failures?

Great to speak with Kathleen Gray for this piece in USA Today.

“She had no record of civic engagement, she hadn’t voted or held a political office. There was a perception that she had jumped over people and not paid her dues,” said Jessica Levinson, a law professor with an emphasis on election law at Loyola University in Los Angeles. She also described the demon sheep ad as a "hail mary."

"We’re still talking about it, but it smacked of a political novice’s desperation,” Levinson said.


But that’s not going to work in a presidential campaign, Levinson predicted.

“Her experiences have not been rousing successes. Her biggest success has been the debate and by all accounts she won that,” she said. “She might be good enough for a vice presidential pick, but in terms of fundraising numbers and poll numbers, it’s still not good enough for the nomination.”

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"The insulting view of ‘the women’s vote’"

My latest op-ed is up in the Sacramento Bee. 

Here is the conclusion:

When asked about Donald Trump’s boorish and sexist comments toward women, Jeb Bush responded, “Do we want to insult 53 percent of all voters?” The assumption is that only women will be turned off by such comments. Apparently insulting women is just another “women’s issue.”

Read more here:

"Compton officials deny improperly inflating pay; D.A. investigation ongoing"

Good to talk to Marisa Gerber and Angel Jennings of the Los Angeles Times for this one.

Jessica Levinson, a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School who serves on the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, said Compton officials should work to change the city's charter if they want to pay themselves more.

"There are tons of laws that aren't indexed for inflation," Levinson said. "But that doesn't mean you just decide to work around them."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

"Trump's call to end abuse of US birthright citizenship divides GOP field, legal experts"

Great to speak with Joe Weber of Fox News for this one

“Trump thinks ‘our country is going to hell.’ Well, there is likely little more than a chance in hell that we are going to amend the Constitution,” Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola University of Los Angeles, said Wednesday. “Amending the Constitution is one of the most serious things that lawmakers can do. Therefore the path to doing it is rightfully arduous. I would put the chances … as beyond a longshot."

However, Levinson questions whether enough Americans will buy the argument.

“It may be politically popular with a certain segment of the electorate, but I do not believe this is a mainstream view,” she said, arguing two-thirds of Americans support a path to citizenship or permanent legal status for illegal immigrants. “This is an argument that is likely to gain traction in the primary elections, but I think it could be viewed quite differently in the general election."

"Tense times in government offices after Ashley Madison email leak"

Nice to speak with Abby Sewell for this piece in the Los Angeles Times. 

"Work email is created and set up and funded by the employer — in this case, the government — and it's inappropriate to use government email for personal purposes," said Jessica Levinson, a law professor and member of the city ethics commission.

Friday, August 21, 2015

"Compton officials have been illegally inflating their pay, district attorney says"

Always a pleasure to speak with Angel Jennings of the Los Angeles Times

Jessica Levinson, a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School, said the D.A.’s letter raises question about the meetings’ merit.

“It makes the advisory board meetings frankly sound like scam meetings,” Levinson said. “The D.A.’s office is saying they don’t pass the smell test.”

"Is this woman the new Lois Lerner?"

Spoke with Rudy Takala of the Washington Examiner for this one

Jessica Levinson, a campaign finance attorney and professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, disagrees, saying that an odd number of commissioners would be a good thing. "Given the gridlock and inaction that we've seen from the FEC over the past few years, I think that is an idea well with exploring. It is quite clear that the FEC is not functioning as is, and therefore that there is really no watchdog at the federal level. There is a reason that when appellate judges make decisions they sit on three-judge panels. For the same reason, there are nine Supreme Court Justices."

Monday, August 17, 2015

"Ticketed and towed: Owner of minivan hopes his court victory inspires others"

Great to talk with Laura Nelson of the Los Angeles Times for this piece.

Requiring that local governments post signs for every law on the books could "open a Pandora's Box" that would reach far beyond the 72-hour parking restriction, said Jessica Levinson, an associate clinical professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

From watering a lawn on a restricted day to not signaling a left-hand turn, "there are things we do every day that are legal or illegal and don't have a sign to advertise them," Levinson said. The Court of Appeals could accept the overturned citation as new evidence, she said. "But honestly, a traffic court's decision having any bearing?" she said. "I guess I'm kind of dubious."

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Talking about the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act

Looking forward to discussing the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, early voting, same day voter registration, gerrymandering, and more at 5:20 pm with Ian Masters on KPFK.

"L.A. hits the brakes on plan to allow Uber at LAX"

Good to talk with Alice Walton (aka @TheCityMaven) of the Los Angeles Times for this piece.

“In general, I think most campaign contributions and expenditures on lobbying are business judgments and the idea is that you spend money because you want to influence those who are making decisions that affect you, and that’s not necessarily evil,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School.

“Influence can also be a synonym for educate but I think that it kind of strains common sense to say campaign and lobbying money isn’t about trying to obtain favorable decisions,” she said.

Monday, August 3, 2015

"Inglewood files suit over disparaging videos of City Council meetings"

Good to talk to Angel Jennings of the Los Angeles Times for this piece

Jessica Levinson, a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School, questions the suit's merits. "It looks like the city is using taxpayers funds to try to insulate itself from criticism," she said.

Experts note that in copyright cases, judges often order the loser to pay the winner's attorney fees, which could increase the cost to taxpayers.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Is GOP resurrecting its ‘war on women’ image?"

More in this piece by Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle

Jessica Levinson, a professor of politics and ethics at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, says she’s not surprised that the GOP rhetoric over Planned Parenthood has ramped up, as more than a dozen presidential candidates aim to raise their poll numbers.

Defunding Planned Parenthood “may be a winner” for Republican candidates intent on energizing voters and donors and for “trying to get some of the oxygen away from Donald Trump,” who has big-footed their presidential race, she says.

GOP senators, including presidential candidates Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, are demanding a vote on defunding the organization as early as Monday — Cruz has even raised the threat of a government shutdown this fall over the issue.

Levinson says they — and their party — could pay the price in the general election next year. “This is not going to make a lot of new friends with female voters and young voters,” she said.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

"School Board President Solicits Funds for Kids — Her Own"

This piece via Mario Koran of the Voice of San Diego.

"How ethics probe of Rep. Mike Honda will play in 2016 election"

Always great to speak with Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Law Professor Jessica Levinson, who specializes in ethics and politics at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, said history shows it’s unusual for the House to investigate one of its own, let alone extend the process or reprimand a member. “You almost have to come to the House Ethics (committee) with a smoking gun and say, ‘I just fired it,’” she said.
Levinson, the law professor, said that if such allegations are true, Honda’s behavior presents serious questions about a “course of conduct” in office. House rules demand “you don’t have a ‘binder’ of donors, you don’t have your staffers do personal work on the government’s dime, and you can’t force staffers to do government work using your parents’ car to squire you around town,” she said.

"Sacramento mayor’s takeover of national group was ‘messy’"

Good to talk disclosure and transparency for this piece in the Sacramento Bee.

Loyola Law School professor and political ethics expert Jessica Levinson said Johnson’s national activities are not problematic if they help the city. “In an ideal world, there is something concrete where you can tell people this is how spending this money (on city staff and travel) helped you beyond the broad platitude that it helped put the city on the map.”

Read more here:

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"How a friendship between a California politician and a billionaire could shape climate policy"

Wonderful to speak with Laurel Rosenhall for the debut of Calmatters

This kind of coalescence is common in American politics, where campaign spending gives some advocates an outsized voice, said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who sits on the Los Angeles Ethics Commission. “This is the story of politicians and their benefactors,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that it’s nefarious ... This is just the way it is. You get meetings and people pay attention because you can write checks that have a lot of zeros.”

Saturday, July 11, 2015

"Appeals Court Rips State Attorney for Misconduct at Trial"

Nice speaking with Brian Melley of the AP for this piece

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said the ruling was unusual in its anger, but seemed warranted based on descriptions of Bilotti's conduct.
"It could be that (Caltrans) should have won, but look what harm you did to your client, look what harm you did to yourself," Levinson said. "Attorneys push the boundaries, and that's different than just flagrantly going against the court and, frankly, just disrespecting the court."

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Aide To California Senate Leader Accepted Pot Gifts From Marijuana Lobbyist

Good to talk with Amanda Chicago Lewis of BuzzFeed for this
Loyola Law School professor and Vice President of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission Jessica Levinson agreed, saying she felt that having an adviser who is not under contract directly with the legislature and therefore is not subject to gift limits seemed to show a violation of the intent and spirit of the law.
“If it’s permissible, it shouldn’t be,” said Levinson. “He seems to be holding himself out as working for the Senate pro tem and enjoying the benefits of working for Kevin de León but not the burdens. Along with the privilege and power of working for a state senator, particularly one in leadership, comes certain responsibilities, and chief among those is filing disclosure reports and being subject to a variety of restrictions.”

Sunday, July 5, 2015

S.F. killing sparks national outrage, likely political fallout

Spoke to the terrific Carla Marinucci for this piece

“Politically, the timing is great for Trump, because he has this heinous crime to point to, a tragic incident that appears to be the poster child that he’s right,” she said. “But the truth is that undocumented immigrants are going to commit crimes ... as will the people who are born here.”

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Supreme vitriol in high court’s dissents

Great to talk with Bob Elegko for this piece by John Diaz in the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Their affection for one another was certainly not reflected in the past two weeks of opinions. As Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson put it to my colleague Bob Egelko last week: “Justice Roberts is invested in upholding the integrity of the institution, and Justice Scalia is calling his colleagues morons.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court upholds redistricting by independent panels

Great to speak with Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle for this piece

The court majority was clearly aware that a contrary decision “would also call into question a host of other laws using direct democracy to affect congressional elections,” said Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

California GOP benefits from redistricting decision as bigger case looms

Wonderful to talk to Cathleen Decker of the Los Angeles Times for this piece

"In Arizona, the Republicans are upset today, but in California the Democrats might be a little less happy than they might have been otherwise," said Jessica A. Levinson, clinical professor of law at Loyola Law School, who specializes in election law. "Redistricting can sometimes make for strange bedfellows."


"The independent redistricting commissions typically do make life and elections harder for incumbents," Levinson said. "The losers today are self-interested incumbents."

Supreme Court rules that citizens commissions can draw congressional districts

My latest op-ed is in today's Sacramento Bee.

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Supreme Court upholds Arizona political map"

Great to speak with Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic for this piece.

Election-law professor Jessica Levinson said she was surprised by the ruling after arguments in March appeared to favor the Legislature.

"I thought that they would give the constitutional provision a strict and narrow reading," said Levinson, of Loyola Law School. "I thought this was going to be another one of the cases where the court undermines voters rights and protections. This seems like it's a validation of citizens' ability to use their lawmaking power through the process of direct democracy."

After marriage, LGBT activists prepare for next challenge

Always a true pleasure to talk with Carla Marinucci of the SF Chronicle. 

Jessica Levinson, a clinical law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, says it is clear that “even if you have the right to be married, it doesn’t mean you are free from all discrimination — so the next frontier will be looking at discrimination laws.”

“You have to give couples the same rights in employment ... in hospital visits, and there are other instances of discrimination. It’s not the only question,” she said, “but it may be the biggest.”

More here. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"O.C. college district foundation closer to OKing Saudi consulting deal"

Great to talk to Ruben Vives of the Los Angeles Times for this piece.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who specializes in good governance, said even if it was an honest mistake there are consequences to violating open meeting laws.

"The public is injured when there is a Brown Act violation like this," she said. "The public is deprived from taking part in their government's decisions."

Supreme Court upholds another challenge to the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)

The 6-3 decision, written by CJ Roberts, is here.

The Court rules that subsidies are available to those who bought their insurance on the federal exchange.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Cost of a Seat: California Legislators Raise More than $1,000 a Day

Great to talk to Marisa Lagos of KQED for this post. 

And they don’t even take into account the millions of dollars spent by independent outside groups to influence these legislative races, said campaign finance expert and Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson. Even though she studies these issues, Levinson said the numbers surprised her.

“That is an astronomical amount of money to raise every day,” she said. “It’s not just the absolute value of the money — which is high — but it takes a lot of time to raise money.”

Levinson noted that there are “only 24 hours in a day,” so fundraising must take attention away from other duties.

“You are either not sleeping or not legislating for a lot of time,” she said.

You also have to factor in campaign contribution limits, Levinson added. In 2014, legislative candidates could receive a maximum of $4,100 from an individual or business entity.

“Because we have contribution limits, you have to go to a lot of different people and ask for money to raise those amounts — so you are left, in effect, owing a lot of people,” she said. “The other thing is, who are you talking to when you are fundraising constantly? Only people who can give you money.”

California 'Kill the Gays' ballot blocked

Good to talk to Anita Chabria of the Guardian for this piece.

Professor Jessica Levinson of Loyola Law School said: “I am a little surprised because of the tradition, in California in particular, that we wait until measures are passed before ruling on their constitutionality. What we have here is a judge who is laying out a ruling saying that there is no world in which this is valid, so we are not going to waste our time. So it’s a very strong statement from both the attorney general and the judge.” 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"California Gov. Jerry Brown notches another budget victory"

Great to speak with John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle for this one

“For voters, 2008 is still in the public memory,” said Jessica Levinson, who teaches political ethics at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “They still remember the days of deep budget cuts and state IOUs.”
The governor can get away with issuing ultimatums and brushing aside legislators’ concerns because he’s, well, Jerry Brown, said Levinson. After decades as a high-visibility player in California politics, a record 13 years as governor and a reputation, deserved or not, for reversing the state’s financial woes, voters are far more comfortable with his plans for the state’s future than those of little-known, term-limited legislators.
Democrats, at least for now, can only make the best of what the governor gives them, she added.
Legislative leaders “can agree that they pushed for more programs, but you didn’t see them fight too hard for them,” Levinson said. “This is Jerry Brown’s budget.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"Kevin Johnson’s push for more staff reflects continued national ambitions"

Great to talk with Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee for this piece
Loyola Law School professor and political ethics expert Jessica Levinson said that like many other big city mayors, Johnson has made no secret of his desire to increase both his own and the city’s national profile. And that’s not problematic, as long as he’s “not just trying to make a name for himself,” she said.
“You want to make sure you are raising your profile to help the city, not raising the profile to help yourself,” she said. “In an ideal world, there is something concrete where you can tell people this is how spending this money (on city staff and travel) helped you beyond the broad platitude that it helped put the city on the map.”

Read more here:

"Measuring the impact of new rule preventing 'pay to play' in fighting traffic fines"

Great to be on KPCC's AirTalk to discuss.

Monday, May 25, 2015

"California Assembly leaders single-handedly dictate spending"

Great to talk to Fenit Nirappil of the AP for this piece.

“This allows one person to have complete power of the purse strings,” said Jessica Levinson, a government ethics expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

"Arcadia City Attorney Responds to Criticism of Council’s Nonpublic Decisions"

More here

Jessica Levinson, a governance attorney and professor at Loyola University Law School, took issue with Deitsch’s policy versus procedural distinction.
“That’s not the distinction that we make to determine a Brown Act exception,” she said in an interview.
“‘In light of pending litigation’ is the hook as to why they should go into closed session, but it strikes me that the decisions they made, whether structural or procedural seem to be attenuated enough from the lawsuit that they could be discussed in a regular open session,” Levinson said. “The purpose [of exceptions] is to allow for a government agency to make litigation decisions in private so that they don’t have to tip their hand to other side, so that all of the normal evidentiary confidentialities can be maintained.”

Sunday, May 24, 2015

"Kevin de León called about job for daughter at nonprofit he helped with bill"

Good to talk to Patrick McGreevy of the Los Angeles Times for this article.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson said de León's action appeared inappropriate for an elected official. "Parents pick up the phone for their kids all the time. But they are not leaders of the Senate who are carrying sponsored bills," said Levinson, who is vice president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

"Water district found itself drowning in steep legal fees"

Good to talk to Ruben Vives of the Los Angeles times for this piece.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School who specializes in good governance, said public agencies need to do everything they can to control legal costs.

"You just don't get to take your eyes off the ball, especially when you've paid for an expensive ball," Levinson said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Details Hidden on Legislative Lawyers Drafting Bills for Influential Groups"

Great to speak with John Myers of KQED for this piece

“Legislators are outsourcing their jobs to people in the shadows that we don’t know,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor of governance and ethics at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “I think the least they can do is give the public some information.”

"Hacked Sony Emails Reveal Behind-the-Scenes Political Dealings in L.A."

Good to talk to Robert Faturechi of ProPublica for this piece with Jack Dolan of the Los Angeles Times. 

In any case, election law experts said, if a donation is pledged but only publicly revealed after an election, it sidesteps the spirit of disclosure laws. "It deprives the voters of really important information‚...(about) what interests politicians may be beholden to," said Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

"Indicted Paul Tanaka expected to ask for leave as mayor of Gardena"

Good to talk with Hailey Branson-Potts of the Los Angeles Times for this article.

Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who specializes in good governance, said she does not expect Tanaka to step down as mayor.

“In this case, history has indicated that Paul Tanaka is not going to go quietly into the night,” she said. “My guess is it’s going to take a lot of political pressure for him to step down,” she said, stressing that controversy has not stopped him from seeking public office in the past.

Levinson said that it’s unlikely voters in Gardena, who elected Tanaka even as controversy swirled around him, are unaware of his history. As a result, she said, it remains to be seen whether an indictment would be enough to create a major push among residents to pressure the mayor to step down.

“There have been rumors and discussions and chatter of serious wrongdoing for a very long time, so it cannot be that the voters of Gardena were utterly oblivious to that,” Levinson said. “And they elected him anyway. My guess is that he has a lot of loyal voters who might think he was wronged and might say they want to see the process play out."

"Advocates push lawmakers to help social programs in California budget"

Great to talk to Judy Lin of the AP for this article.

“I don’t think the governor is in a handing-out-money sort of mood,” said Jessica Levinson, who has written about state budgets and teaches at Loyola Law School. “It’s a normal human response to say let’s spend the money. And I think time and time again, he’s hit the brakes on that impulse.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Land deal has been costly debacle for City of Industry

Great to talk with Paul Pringle of the Los Angeles Times for this one. 

"If elected officials steer work to companies in which they or their families have a financial interest, it could represent a misuse of public funds," said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who studies public corruption.

"The mayor should only be making decisions that benefit his constituents, not himself," she said. "It raises a lot of questions about the potential misuse of his position."

"Bills ‘Sponsored’ in Sacramento by Outside Groups Usually Become Law"

Great to speak with John Myers of KQED for this. 

“Whenever people try to influence elected officials, I think it is better for the public to know,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in governance ethics. “When bills are sponsored, the key is to give the public as much information as possible.”

Open wide: California dentists pony up for state Senate candidate

Great to speak with Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle for this one.

Jessica Levinson, who teaches law and political ethics at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, said the dentists’ efforts on Bonilla’s behalf dramatize how state interest groups — just like big national players — rely on special expenditures to boost their legislative agendas.

“It’s the way we do business now in Sacramento. It’s the way we do business in city halls, county seats and the nation’s capital,” Levinson said. “Independent expenditure groups spend money ... because they think candidates will do something beneficial for them.” And for legislators who chair key committees, she said, “It’s 'I have this business before you — and you’re in control of a decision.’”

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Ex-district attorney suggests ways to bolster ethics rules"

Good to talk with Imran Ghori of the Press Enterprise for this piece.   

“You can’t just have a code,” she said by phone last month. “You have to make sure the code is enforced, otherwise it will be largely ignored.”

Thursday, April 9, 2015

"California lawmakers’ campaign debt piled high in 2014"

Great to talk to Jim Miller of the Sacramento Bee for this article

“You’re not giving to them so they run a competitive campaign. You’re not giving to them so they can get their message out,” campaign-law expert Jessica Levinson, vice president of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission, said of campaign donors. “The purpose is, ‘Help me out. I need to retire my campaign debt.’ It’s much more of a specific goal.”

Read more here:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

"Kamala Harris’ 'bizarre’ move: no press at kickoff event"

Always wonderful to talk to Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle. 

“I think, frankly, it’s not a bad calculation. ... She needs time to ramp up and know all the issues. She definitely doesn’t want a 'Katie Couric-Sarah Palin’ moment,” Levinson said, referring to the disastrous interview when Palin was a vice presidential candidate in 2008.
“There’s a big difference between being an attorney general and a U.S. senator,” and answers to the complex questions ahead may require a lot of in-depth preparation, Levinson said. That’s especially true in the age of social media, where answers live forever on YouTube and other sites.
Levinson said there’s no danger that Harris will be put in the same camp as Meg Whitman, the 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate who famously sidestepped reporters’ questions, literally running away from them at one point.
Harris “has seen the microphone before and seems to enjoy it,” Levinson said. “I don’t think she will implode, but she has kicked off her campaign much earlier than other candidates and she is someone who wants finessed answers.”
Harris may also be betting that it is “more harmful for her to have a fairly substantive mistake than it is not to invite the press” to a fundraiser, though she added that in the future, media access will be vital to her perception as a credible candidate.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

"Thanks to Obama, the New World of Campaign Finance Is Unlimited and Undisclosed"

Great to talk to Michael Bender of Bloomberg News for this one

“If you really want to influence a candidate, or a future candidate, you give to an outside group,” said Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who specializes in election law. “Direct contributions and bundling are increasingly becoming a way of the past.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

"Kamala Harris challenge to 'kill the gays' initiative may fail but still looks shrewd"

Nice to speak with Anita Chabira for this piece in the Guardian.   

“It’s not about the winning,” says Loyola law professor and election law expert Jessica Levinson about Harris’s decision to go to court. “She may feel that this is morally the right thing to do, but I think this is more of a move to impress upon everyone that you have left no stone unturned.”

"California Lawmakers' Spring Break Destinations: Japan, Cuba"

Great to talk to Ben Adler for Capitol Public Radio for this piece.

“We can absolutely look at some of these trips and say, oh, come on, you just wanted a vacation that was paid for by your campaign contributors,” Loyola Law School Professor Jessica Levinson.

But she says it’s important to judge each trip on its own merits. “Not every trip is like that. I think some of these trips are actually useful, fact-finding missions.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"California attorney general to ask judge to halt 'shoot the gays' initiative"

Nice to speak with Anita Chabira for this piece in the Guardian.   

Loyola law school professor and election law expert Jessica Levinson agreed with that opinion, adding that Harris would likely ask the judge to “kick it off because it is clearly unconstitutional”. Levinson added that it is unclear how the court would rule, however. California judges have traditionally been loath to interfere with the initiative process, preferring to wait until an issue becomes law.

But she adds: “If there is ever a case where a judge would throw something out, this is it.”

"Rep. Mike Honda’s granddaughter a transgender icon at 8"

Wonderful to speak with Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle for this one. 

“Politicians make their families part of the political debate all the time ... but once you thrust the family into the public forum, they are fair game for the debate,” said law Professor Jessica Levinson, who teaches politics, ethics and privacy issues at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. “And in this case, you’re thrusting an 8-year-old into the public debate at a really delicate time.”

Levinson said Honda deserves credit for publicly supporting his granddaughter, but she noted that in doing so, he has exposed her to a harsh limelight, possibly for years, at a time when she may be “really below the threshold for knowing consent.”

Oftentimes, “8-year-olds and 28-year-olds have different understandings of repercussions,” especially with regard to social media, Levinson said.

"Police Advocacy Group Leaves Few Fingerprints"

Great to talk with Rachel Baye for this piece in Time.

In down-ballot races like those for state supreme court, the secrecy of such nonprofits is particularly problematic, because the groups may be the only ones offering information about the candidates, according to Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor who specializes in election law.

“People typically aren’t as ill-informed about who’s running for president or governor or even secretary of state as they are about judicial races,” Levinson said. “A few well-placed radio or TV ads can make a big difference because that can be the only thing that people remember about the candidate.

"Learn An Entire Semester Of Campaign Finance Law In Less Than 4 Minutes"

Thanks to Huffington Post Live for having me on to discuss. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Sen. Janet Nguyen’s misguided notion of banning bans"

My latest op-ed in the Sacramento Bee. 

Let’s talk about people who have served and continue to serve our country. Let’s talk about making sure that they have jobs, educations and health care. Let’s have a debate about how best to treat those Americans who risk their lives to keep us safe. Those are actual and important issues that need attention. The same is not true of the ability of a student council to vote for the removal of an American flag.

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"Will the Supreme Court Allow Legislators to Dilute Voting Power?"

My latest op-ed is up on Pacific Standard Magazine. 

Here is an excerpt:

The substantive issue in the case essentially boils down to whether the word “legislature” can include the public when it exercises its power to enact laws via the initiative process and repeal laws via the referendum. Put another way, does the term “legislature” just refer to the group of elected lawmakers who sit in state capitols, or can it also include the people when they act like lawmakers? If it is the former, the ability of Arizona and likely California’s independent redistricting commissions to draw congressional district lines is, as the kids say, “so over.”