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: