Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Democrats Have Newsom's Back as Recall Campaign Ramps Up

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2021 at 1:30 PM

Gov. Newsom waves to virtual guests during the State of the State address at Dodger Stadium on March 9, 2021. - PHOTO BY SHAE HAMMOND FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Shae Hammond for CalMatters
  • Gov. Newsom waves to virtual guests during the State of the State address at Dodger Stadium on March 9, 2021.
Gov. Gavin Newsom officially launched a campaign Monday against the effort to oust him from office, as fellow Democrats closed ranks to support him and his opponents plan this week to submit the last batch of signatures needed to trigger a recall election.

Since Newsom’s flashy State of the State speech last week that looked like an unofficial campaign kickoff, prominent Democrats across California and the nation have thrown their weight behind the governor and against the attempt to recall him. Their strategy in this deep-blue state that twice resoundingly rejected Republican former President Donald Trump: Portray the recall as a MAGA-inspired movement full of QAnon conspiracy theorists and anti-vaxxers and try to unify Democrats against it.

Whether Newsom’s game plan will work will likely depend on how quickly California bounces back from the coronavirus pandemic that’s shuttered many businesses and schools — as well as who steps up to try to replace Newsom on the recall ballot. His campaign launch seemed designed to thwart potential challengers from the left, featuring support from progressive national Democrats including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams.

Warren promoted the new anti-recall website and told her 5.7 million Twitter followers that “extreme right-wing Republicans” are trying to recall Newsom “because he dares to listen to scientists and fights to put power in the hands of working people.”

“Let’s have Gavin’s back,” Warren added.

The California Democratic Party dumped $250,000 into the anti-recall effort Monday and Newsom took to friendly national TV shows to hammer the message the GOP-led recall is a “partisan political power grab.” 

On MSNBC, Newsom highlighted the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups that took part in the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and that he said are supporting the recall. “I’m taking it very seriously,” said the governor, who is scheduled to appear today on “The View.”

California Democrats, meanwhile, went to work trying to unite the party’s diverse constituencies.

“If the recall should qualify, we will organize a statewide campaign to ensure that African-American voters understand that recalling Governor Gavin Newsom is not in our interest,” said Los Angeles Rep. Karen Bass, one of several Black Democrats who participated in a Zoom press conference to denounce the recall. “We will crush it because we will be united.”

Bass and Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland made clear they’re with Newsom, after many African Americans expressed disappointment that the governor didn’t pick one of them to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Vice President Kamala Harris.

(For good measure, Newsom said in his MSNBC appearance that he will appoint a Black woman to the Senate if Sen. Dianne Feinstein retires.)

LGBT and Asian-American Democrats held similar events in recent days to tout Newsom’s record and attempt to mitigate potential fissures in the Democratic coalition.

State Treasurer Fiona Ma and Controller Betty Yee spoke out in favor of Newsom, after being seen as potential candidates to replace him on the recall ballot. “I stand with my brothers and sisters and ask everyone to spread the word and vote no on the recall,” Ma said at a recent press conference.

She then backed it up with a $10,000 donation to a committee opposing the recall.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon also gave $10,000 to fight the recall — a sign that more money to help Newsom is likely on the way from the Legislature’s supermajority Democrats.

It’s the opposite of what’s happening in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now facing an impeachment inquiry over allegations that he sexually harassed several women and covered up nursing home deaths from COVID-19. Cuomo is facing calls to resign from his fellow Democrats, while Newsom’s fellow Democrats — even those who have been critical of his pandemic response — are lining up to support him.

The recall election has not officially been declared.

Election officials must first verify the submitted signatures and determine that at least 1.5 million of them are legit; they’re expected to issue a final count next month. But recall supporters say they’re submitting more than 2 million signatures, so it’s likely to land on the ballot this fall.

“Newsom has got to be held accountable for what’s happened the last 12 months,” said Dave Gilliard, a Republican consultant working on the recall campaign.

He pointed to California’s slow vaccine rollout, fraud-plagued unemployment system and delays in reopening most schools — as well as Newsom’s infamous French Laundry soiree. Gilliard said 65 percent of the people who signed the petitions are Republicans, 9 percent are Democrats and 25 percent are registered without a party preference.

Funding for the recall campaign has largely come from Republicans, including the California GOP, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and businessman John Cox, who lost to Newsom in 2018. Cox and Kevin Faulconer, the Republican former mayor of San Diego, have said they will run to replace Newsom.

But the recall is not only backed by Republicans.

Silicon Valley executives David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, independents who have previously supported Democrats, also donated to the recall campaign. Some parents who said they voted for Newsom in the past are supporting the recall because they’re angry about school closures.

So a key question in the coming months is whether a candidate will emerge who could attract support from Democrats, or liberal independent voters.

“The Republicans are in favor of the recall regardless of which candidate they put up and the Democrats are still with Newsom, but there is a weaker support for the governor among younger Democrats, and if a fresh new face emerges on the left that could be a game-changer in Newsom’s Democrat support and a boost in the recall effort,” Spencer Kimball, director of polling at Emerson College, said in a statement.

Progressive tech investor Joe Sanberg — who’s flirted with running for office in the past — said during a press conference Monday with legislators supporting a wealth tax that he opposes the recall. But he didn’t explicitly rule out running.

In a new poll from Emerson and Nextstar Media Group, 38 percent of California voters said they would vote to recall Newsom and 42  percent said they would vote to keep him in office. The poll showed a heavy split along party lines, with recall favored by about 12 percent of Democrats and 86 percent of Republicans. But 39 percent of independents favored a recall, indicating that the big fight for both camps will probably be for voters who aren’t registered with either party.

A major wild card that will shape the race is how many people throw in their names to replace Newsom.

The rules of a recall election are different from a regular election because there is no run-off. Voters are asked two questions: If they want to recall the governor, and who they want to replace him. If more than 50 percent  of voters say “yes” to the first question, the person who gets the most votes on the second question wins.

With votes split up among dozens — or even hundreds of candidates — it may not take many votes to win. It’s even possible that the winner could get fewer votes than Newsom.

CalMatters reporter Ben Christopher contributed to this report.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Who Will Pay for All of California's Unemployment Fraud?

Posted By and on Tue, Feb 23, 2021 at 6:34 AM

A 1-year-old in Fresno raking in $167 a week. An ex-state employee stealing $200,000 from California’s unemployment system, some by impersonating Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Another $1.2 million swindled by a rapper who bragged about it on YouTube, $1 billion drained in the name of state prisoners, and $2 billion in jobless benefits siphoned off state-issued debit cards.

If doing the math on unemployment fraud in California during the pandemic isn’t dizzying enough, add the untold numbers of workers still fighting for funds that they say were stolen in unauthorized transactions at faraway ATMs, casinos and convenience stores.

“You’ve already been robbed once, and now it feels like they’re doing it again,” said Kori Chase, a 60-year-old housekeeper in Humboldt County living in her car while she tries to claw back more than $3,000 from state unemployment payment contractor Bank of America. “I feel like I’ve been thrown in the sewer, pretty much.”

The state is just beginning to tally how much of the $110 billion paid out in unemployment since March has disappeared in what law enforcement officials say is the biggest fraud investigation in California history.

As the state’s own unemployment fund falls deeper into debt and Congress finalizes a new stimulus bill to restart $300-a-week supplemental payments, a battle is already underway over whether taxpayers might ultimately be asked to pick up the tab for fraud.

Some argue that the fraud panic has already swung too far toward criminalizing out-of-work Californians caught up in crackdowns this fall, when the state Employment Development Department temporarily stopped processing claims and some 350,000 debit cards were cutoff.

But federal officials warn that 1 in 10 unemployment insurance dollars paid during the pandemic could be linked to fraud, which in California would total some $11 billion — more than the state spends annually on community colleges, workforce development and homelessness. “

About 10 percent of UI payments are improper under the best of times,” Scott Dahl, former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Labor, told Congress this summer. “And we are in the worst of times.”

Now, fraud losses are poised to collide with a state unemployment system in financial free fall. In less than a year, California’s Unemployment Insurance fund bankrolled by employer payroll taxes has gone from a surplus of $3 billion to a projected $48 billion deficit by 2021. That’s even after the federal government stepped in during the pandemic to fund benefits for contract workers and provide temporary $600 and $300 weekly supplemental payments.

With the new stimulus bill in Washington poised to flood the strained system with more cash, the coming weeks will test whether the state can strike a balance between paying benefits out quickly and securely. It’s a challenge that increasingly pits the Employment Development Department against its own payment contractor, Bank of America.

Experts say any state missteps could prove costly for the public, despite a 2010 contract with the bank that states that the agency “shall not be liable for overdrafts, fraud, misuse, and lost or stolen debit cards.”

“If it turns out that California should not have approved all these claims,” said Mason Wilder, a research specialist at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, “then regardless of what their agreement says with Bank of America about debit cards, I would think that ultimately the taxpayers are going to be on the hook for California’s errors.”

A web of fraud

Unemployment fraud is not new. “Imposter fraud,” or using someone else’s personal information to apply for benefits, has been a threat since the days when unemployment was paid out of cash boxes at local field offices. From the 1960s to 2010, paper checks had their own vulnerabilities.

With California’s current system almost solely reliant on prepaid Bank of America debit cards, officials must keep up with a widening array of fraud: forged online applications, large batches of debit cards ordered to central drop houses, intercepted mail, social media scams, debit card skimming and more.

In recent years, the state’s “improper payment” rate has hovered around 8 percent. Much of the fraud anxiety in the COVID-19 era revolves around the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, better known as PUA, created by the federal government’s $2 trillion spring stimulus package. The program aimed to quickly establish a safety net for self-employed and contract workers shut out of traditional unemployment, but its rushed application process relied on applicants self-certifying their eligibility.

“Thieves took advantage of a desperate situation and exploited it beyond belief,” said Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.

Last month, a new law enforcement task force chaired by Schubert warned Gov. Gavin Newsom that fraud linked to state inmates alone may hit $1 billion.

The task force is now attempting to curb fraud by working with the Employment Development Department, which employs only 17 dedicated investigators, plus the California Department of Corrections and other state agencies brought into the fold by Newsom.

“The only way to get our hands around this in an efficient way is to do something like this,” Schubert said.

Law enforcement officials and security consultants emphasize potential links between unemployment fraud and organized rings looking to bankroll serious crimes like human trafficking, drug dealing or gun smuggling. But other analysts say it’s important to keep out-of-work claimants from being overshadowed by fraud, and to distinguish less sophisticated identity theft that could be detected relatively easily by better monitoring social media, foreign IP addresses and identity documents submitted by unemployment applicants.

A September report by a governor-appointed “strike team” criticized the Employment Development Department’s “culture of allowing fear for fraud to trump all other considerations,” while still failing to catch fraud.

“This is an unprecedented period for benefit fraud activity across the country,” the employment agency said in a statement. “At this time, we are unable to provide any estimates on total fraud activity during this pandemic due to an analysis effort still underway to verify identities on suspect claims.”

The new stimulus bill would give states discretion in how to distribute additional federal benefits. A provision grants states authority to claw back pandemic aid, but at the same time, waives repayment if fraud wasn’t the recipient’s fault.

Ultimately, the buck stops with Newsom, who will be judged on how he steers the state through its unemployment crisis.

A financial battle begins

While fraud targeting state unemployment enrollment systems is a widespread concern, it doesn’t explain the problems of people like Kori Chase, who have experienced issues directly with their state-issued debit cards.

Up until October, she thought the odd charges she’d seen over the summer at places she hadn’t visited had been resolved, since the money was credited to her account. But just before Chase paid her October rent, her balance plummeted to negative $3,000.

Bank of America had reversed the fraud credit, she said, leaving her unable to pay $530 for her room in McKinleyville. She hasn’t been able to get the money back since.

“How long do they expect you to just be out here in limbo?” Chase said in mid-December from the silver Chrysler she now shares with her chihuahua. “Don’t they get it? I mean, it’s survival.”

Bank of America declined to comment on how many California unemployment accounts have seen fraud credits reversed, though dozens have shared similar stories and documentation with CalMatters.

A spokesman said the bank has unfrozen some 54,000 accounts after jobless cardholders appealed disputes, and that the “vast majority” of fraud appears related to state enrollment processes.

The Employment Development Department told CalMatters that “Bank of America assesses potential fraudulent charges” involving debit cards.

At the state Capitol, some staffers attempting to remedy constituents’ unemployment woes have grown frustrated with what they say is a lack of cooperation from the bank, aside from a five-page letter sent in response to a letter to Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan from more than 50 state lawmakers.

They question how the bank is flagging accounts for fraud, and whether there are parallels between problems in California and other states with Bank of America unemployment payment contracts, including Arizona and Maryland.

Overhauling unemployment?

The more than 17 million unemployment claims that California’s Employment Development Department has processed since March far exceeds the demand for benefits the state has seen in any other recession. Still, security pitfalls weren’t hard to see coming. The state auditor reported last month that the agency mailed some 38 million letters with Social Security numbers during the pandemic, despite previous calls to stop.

The vulnerabilities have been compounded during the pandemic by large infusions of federal cash with PUA payments and $300-600 weekly supplements. Though many workers badly need the money, it’s doubled as a lure for fraud that could undermine the future of the state’s cash-strapped unemployment fund.

Assemblymember Rudy Salas, a Democrat from Bakersfield, said law
Assemblyman Rudy Salas on the floor on September 12, 2019. - PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • Assemblyman Rudy Salas on the floor on September 12, 2019.
makers don’t yet know how much unemployment money is missing, let alone whether it came from state or federal coffers. He’s awaiting a broader state audit in January, then will come the tougher question: “How do we backfill that?” said Salas, who has introduced one of several unemployment reform bills, AB 56, that the Legislature is set to take up next year.

As new virus closures once again swell the state’s unemployment backlog, competing priorities are emerging in the onslaught of new reform bills. Republicans have seized on unemployment dysfunction to rail against bureaucratic mismanagement and Newsom’s leadership, while Democrats are introducing more incremental bills to tweak the system.

“We’ve got a lot of messes to clean up,” said Democratic Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, who introduced bill AB 47 to require the state to offer a direct deposit option for unemployment, in line with 47 other states. “Ultimately, we do have to make people whole.”

Assemblymember Jim Patterson, a Republican from Fresno, describes the employment agency as a “rats nest of incompetence.” Patterson made the remark in a press conference where he attacked the state’s much-touted new ID.me automated verification system, citing constituents still stuck waiting months for benefits after promised improvements.

In the meantime, states like Washington have already recovered hundreds of millions of dollars after fraud — something Wilder of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners said could prove much more difficult with California’s scattershot fraud issues.

“Especially if it’s just one-off cases, a bunch of individuals, that means you can’t find somebody that put through a thousand fraudulent claims,” Wilder said. “That’s a thousand separate investigations that the state is going to have to deal with.”
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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Huffman: Trump's 'Crimes' 'Undeniable,' Senators 'Betrayed Their Oath'

Posted By on Sat, Feb 13, 2021 at 1:27 PM

The U.S. Senate may have acquitted Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial today but North Coast Congressmember Jared Huffman thinks the former president's guilt is "undeniable."

"This vote was not an absolution of Donald Trump," Huffman said in a statement released to social media platforms shortly after the senate's vote. "His crimes are undeniable. That will go down in history, along with the senators who betrayed their oath and refused to stand up to the man who incited a violent attack against all of us and our democracy."

The Senate voted 57-43 to convict Trump on the charge that he incited the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead. While seven Republicans voted with the Senate's 50 Democrats, the vote fell fall short of the two-thirds threshold needed to convict.

Huffman, a long and outspoken critic of Trump's, joined a majority of his colleagues Jan. 13 in the 232-197 vote to charge Trump with incitement of insurrection, making him the first president to be impeached twice.
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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Two Polls Give Gov. Newsom Bad News ... and Worse News

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2021 at 12:43 PM

Two new surveys show Gov. Gavin Newsom's approval among Californians plummeting from its highs early in the coronavirus pandemic. He's shown here at a press conference in the state Capitol following the first COVID-19 death in California on March 4, 2020. - PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • Two new surveys show Gov. Gavin Newsom's approval among Californians plummeting from its highs early in the coronavirus pandemic. He's shown here at a press conference in the state Capitol following the first COVID-19 death in California on March 4, 2020.
Two fresh polls indicate that California voters may be falling out of love with a governor who just three years ago was elected by a record-breaking margin, and who early in the pandemic ranked as one of the country’s most popular state leaders. How worrisome is this for the governor facing a burgeoning recall effort? It depends on which pollster you ask.

According to the survey from the Public Policy Institute of California, the era of bipartisan good feelings now appears to be over for the governor. That’s the bad news. About 52% of likely voters gave Newsom high marks, compared to 43% who disapproved of his performance.

That still puts Newsom above water with the public, but it marks a significant and consistent decline in popular support from past polls. In October, Newsom’s approval came in at 57%; in May, it was an even higher 63%. Institute president Mark Baldassare said the governor’s stratospheric approval during the summer — in which Democrats, independents and even some Republicans applauded the governor for his handling of the pandemic — was the aberration. In this new poll, “now we’re kind of back to the reality of hyper-partisanship” in which Democrats largely approve of Newsom, Republicans disapprove and independents are split.

But a poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies tells a darker story for the governor. Only 46% of registered voters surveyed approved of 
Newsom’s performance, compared to 48% who did not.

In the Berkeley survey, 36% of the respondents said they would vote to recall the governor if given the chance. Newsom campaign spokesperson Dan Newman issued a statement contending that voters “recognize that this is an incredibly challenging, intensely complicated, and critically important moment for public officials worldwide. That’s why the Governor remains laser focused on vaccinations, reopening, relief, and recovery.”

The campaign also pointed out that support for his recall in the Berkeley poll was comparable to the 38% of the vote that Republican candidate John Cox received in 2018 when he lost to Newsom by the largest margin in a California governor’s race since the 1950s.

As for why polling results might differ between the two polls, there is no single explanation. The pollsters use different methodologies: PPIC gathers its responses by phone, the Berkeley poll fields them online. And there is natural variability in any poll, which tries to make an inference about overall public opinion based on the responses of a small sample.

In both surveys, large swaths of the respondents said Newsom has not done a good job handling COVID vaccine distribution. To the contrary, in the Berkeley poll, 40% of respondents said the governor has done a “poor” or “very poor” job getting Californians inoculated. In the PPIC poll, 26% of adults surveyed said the governor had done a “poor” job, with another 31% deeming his performance “fair.”

It’s common for voters to sour on an incumbent governor a couple of years into his term as the “honeymoon period” ends and “over time, they become less shiny and more disappointing,” said Kimberly Nalder, political science professor at Sacramento State University.

But given Newsom’s consistent decline in two polls, coupled with months of bad news on the pandemic-front, public opinion is almost surely being driven by the governor’s COVID-response, she said. The governor’s infamous, unmasked dinner with lobbyists at the French Laundry, in which he was photographed dining maskless with lobbyists at one of the state’s toniest restaurants, may have been an inflection point. “All of his regular press conferences, talking about ‘meeting the moment” sort of ring false after people were able to see that he wasn’t following the restrictions.”

A coda: Perhaps the most troubling news in either survey has nothing to do with the governor’s electoral fortunes. PPIC’s survey asked Californians how likely they would be to get a vaccine when offered. Of all the adults asked, 24% said they either “probably” or “definitely” would not. Among Black Californians surveyed, the figure was 55%.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.
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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Huffman Blasts Extremist Colleague, Urges 'Decent People' to Leave 'Moral Rot' of GOP

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2021 at 12:49 PM

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
There’s a growing rift in the Republican party and North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman, never one to be confused for a political wallflower, has joined the fray.

Tensions between the GOP establishment and a new wave of politicians who have ridden to prominence on a wave of populism and Trumpism have been growing for years but have bubbled over in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and Trump’s departure from office.

At the forefront of this rift are freshly sworn in House members Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado), both outspoken gun rights activists who have expressed support for and propagated far-right conspiracy theories, including those pushed by QAnon.

While Boebert initially caused a stir with a provocative fundraising ad declaring she was going to carry her Glock pistol in Washington, most of the recent controversy has surrounded Greene, as a steady stream of old interviews and social media posts supporting conspiracy theories and extremist views have surfaced. Most notably, Greene’s social media accounts have liked posts calling for the execution of prominent Democratic politicians, while she has suggested the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were part of a government conspiracy, school shootings were staged and the devastating 2018 Camp Fire that killed 86 people wasn’t caused by a PG&E equipment failure but a space laser controlled by a wealthy Jewish family with the goal of clearing space for then Gov. Jerry Brown’s now defunct high-speed rail project.

That last one hit close to home for Huffman, and on Sunday he issued a joint statement with former North Coast Rep. Mike Thompson, whom redistricting moved to California’s Fifth Congressional District in 2013.

“These comments made by our colleague from Georgia are not only false and nonsensical, but downright disrespectful,” the pair said. “They are an insult to the firefighters in Butte County, our district, and across California who have lost their lives fighting fires like the Camp Fire. We represent neighboring districts where thousands of people have lost homes and dozens have lost their lives due to fires and we are disgusted a colleague could ever endorse these false and anti-Semitic claims.”

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Eureka Man Arrested After Allegedly Threatening Mass Shooting

Posted By on Wed, Jan 20, 2021 at 4:32 PM

  • FILE
Police arrested a 49-year-old Eureka man shortly after midnight this morning after he allegedly told a Weaverville restaurant employee he had plans to commit a mass shooting at a Eureka government building after the employee asked him to wear a mask.

Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson said the man, identified as Darin Michael Ward, told the employee he and friends had plans to storm a government building in Eureka this morning and shoot everyone there, after which they would walk down the street and shoot anyone they saw wearing a mask. Watson said yesterday afternoon the restaurant's owner notified the Humboldt County Joint Information Center of the threat, which was then relayed to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office and the Eureka Police Department.

Watson said officers worked through the night — with the help of allied agencies and the FBI — to locate Ward and take him into custody. Search warrants served on Ward's vehicle and residence found no weapons, and Watson said there is currently no evidence he had the means or plans in place to carry out the shooting.

Nonetheless, Watson said EPD had officer staged at the government building this morning in an abundance of caution.

"It was deeply concerning given today's climate," Watson said of the threats, adding that he was proud of the officers who worked through the night to locate Ward and assess the threat.

Ward was booked into the Humboldt County jail on suspicion of making criminal threats and is being held on $25,000 bail.

See the full press release from EPD copied below:

Continue reading »

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Humboldt GOP and DCC Jointly Denounce the Violence at the Capitol

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2021 at 10:29 AM

The Humboldt County Republican Central Committee and the Humboldt County Democratic Central Committee has released a joint statement denouncing the fatal riots at the Capitol last week, calling on the community to stand with them against using violence as a form of protest.

"These are extremely difficult and trying times. People fear COVID infection, job loss, business closure, and the stressful uncertainty of a nation pulling itself apart at the seams," the release reads. 

The statement calls for a peaceful transition of power on Jan. 20, when Joe Biden is sworn in as president, saying it is the local chairs “hope and prayer” that Republicans and Democrats “can work together by supporting our long standing traditions of democracy and peaceful expressions of freedom of speech while strongly denouncing violence and destruction of property.

“Humboldt County is a special place and together we hope to be an example to the rest of our state on how we can coexist and even work together,” the statement reads. “As tensions continue to run high, we retain our faith in our democratic system of government. Our faith abides in the voters, election officers and governors (Republican as well as Democrat), who certified election results in every state.”

The statement also states that both Humboldt GOP and Humboldt DCC have been the victims of vandalism and destruction of property "at the hands of individuals who have decided to use unlawful actions to make a point ... ."

Multiple times in the recent years, the Humboldt GOP headquarters has been vandalized and, most recently, the Humboldt DCC office was hit. 

"It is time for each of us to reflect on the growing division between reasonable neighbors in our community and to ask ourselves, 'What kind of a nation do we want to live in?'" the joint statement reads.

Read the full press release below. 
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Monday, December 7, 2020

Huffman Mentioned as Possible Nominee for State AG

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2020 at 12:45 PM

Jared Huffman - CONGRESS
  • Jared Huffman
Politico mentioned North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman as a possible replacement for California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his departure to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services leaves the seat open.

With President-elect Joe Biden nominating Becerra to serve as the secretary of Health and Human Services for his cabinet, California Gov. Gavin Newsom now has the opportunity to name Becerra's replacement.

Although Huffman wrote in a tweet that he was flattered to be mentioned in the Politico article as an "ambitious candidate," he said he wasn't "seeking or interested" in the appointment.

"I'm just a country lawyer, focused on natural resource issues here in the House," Huffman wrote. 
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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Huffman to Host Virtual Town Hall on Presidential Transition

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2020 at 1:48 PM

Jared Huffman - CONGRESS
  • Jared Huffman
Congressman Jared Huffman will hold a virtual town hall on the Presidential transition on Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m.

Rep. Huffman and guests will discuss the "peaceful transfer of presidential power, the status of President Trump’s many challenges to the election results, and the challenges and importance of holding President Trump and his executive branch officials accountable during a new administration," according to a press advisory from Huffman's office.

Viewers can tune in via Huffman's Facebook page (Facebook.com/RepHuffman), Access Humboldt AH11 (Suddenlink Cable Channel 11) and on radio at KZZH-LP 96.7FM.

For more on the event, read the advisory below.

Rep. Huffman to Host Virtual Town Hall on the Presidential Transition

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, December 3, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. PST, Congressman Jared Huffman will hold a virtual town hall on the Presidential transition, with special guests Caroline Fredrickson, a Senior Fellow at Brennan Center for Justice, and former President of the American Constitution Society, and Paul Rosenzweig, a Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute who served as a Senior Counsel in the Office of the Independent Counsel Ken Starr.

Rep. Huffman and his special guests will discuss the peaceful transfer of presidential power, the status of President Trump’s many challenges to the election results, and the challenges and importance of holding President Trump and his executive branch officials accountable during a new administration.

Participants are encouraged to ask questions in the Facebook video comments section during the event for a chance to have their question read aloud and answered live. They can also submit their questions in advance to huffmanQandA@mail.house.gov.

Event Details:

When: Thursday, December 3, 2020
Time: 4:00 PM - 5:15 PM PST


Congressman Jared Huffman
Caroline Fredrickson, Senior Fellow at Brennan Center for Justice
Paul Rosenzweig, principal at Red Branch Consulting

Where: (This is a partial list.)
KPCA: Comcast channel 26 and U-verse 99 in Petaluma service area, and on radio at 103.3FM and streaming at kpca.fm.
Marin TV Education Channel (Comcast Ch 30 and AT&T Ch 99) and streaming online at https://cmcm.tv/30
Live on Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, KZYX 90.7FM Philo, KZYZ 91.5FM Willits and Ukiah, and 88.1FM Fort Bragg.
Access Humboldt AH11 (Suddenlink Cable Channel 11) as well as on radio at KZZH-LP 96.7FM

Please be advised that this is a virtual event; members of the press and public should not attempt to meet in person with the Congressman and his guests.

Prior to joining Brennan Center for Justice, Caroline Fredrickson held multiple leadership roles at the American Constitution Society. She has also served as the director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office, and as General Counsel and Legal Director of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Before that, Caroline was Chief of Staff to Sen. Maria Cantwell and Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. During the Clinton administration, she served as Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs. She has been widely published and appears frequently in the media on topics including labor law, anti-discrimination law, and human and civil rights issues. She holds a law degree from Columbia and recently joined Georgetown Law as a Visiting Professor.

Paul Rosenzweig is the founder of Red Branch Consulting PLLC, a homeland security consulting company and a Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute. He is also a Senior Advisor to The Chertoff Group. Mr. Rosenzweig formerly served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Homeland Security. He is a Professorial Lecturer in Law at George Washington University and a Board Member of the Journal of National Security Law and Policy. Twenty years ago, he served as a senior counsel in the investigation of President Bill Clinton.
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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Newsom's Pick? Who Might Fill VP-Elect Harris' Senate Seat?

Posted By on Sun, Nov 8, 2020 at 2:55 PM

Now that she is Vice President-elect  Kamala Harris, who will fill her Senate seat? - PHOTO BY GAGE SKIMORE VIA FLICKR
  • Photo by Gage Skimore via Flickr
  • Now that she is Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will fill her Senate seat?
The victory of Joe Biden and California’s junior senator, Kamala Harris in the 2020 presidential race brings to a close one of the most protracted post-Election Day waiting games in modern political history. It also opens up a relatively rare thing in the Golden State: the prospect of an open Senate seat.

For career-minded Democrats, that holds the opportunity of a major promotion to the national stage and the potential job security of no term limits, bolstered by the fact that California’s Democratic incumbent U.S. senators have a 28-year track record of winning.

And the one man who could bestow that on them is Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. State law gives the governor the power to fill Harris’ empty seat for the duration of her term, which ends with the 2022 election.

“Newsom has built his career on opportunities to make history. And representation does matter,” said Rose Kapolczynski, president of the American Association of Political Consultants, who ran all four of former Sen. Barbara Boxer’s Senate campaigns.

Case in point: Last month, Newsom nominated Justice Martin Jenkins to an open seat on the state’s supreme court. If confirmed, Jenkins will be the court’s first openly gay member.

And so, for politicos who enjoyed the spectacle of this campaign season, get ready for a fresh round of political drama as Newsom considers his options.

The scale of the bustle to come is in part thanks to a simple math problem.

California has nearly 40 million residents. A little over half of them are registered to vote. That’s more people than all but two states. But thanks to some last-minute haggling at the Constitutional Convention, all of those voters get just two statewide representatives in the U.S. Senate.

And because California’s electorate predictably and overwhelmingly votes for Democrats, there’s a very deep bench of Democratic mayors, state legislators, statewide officeholders, members of Congress and other could-be senators who would love to hold one of those two seats.

Consider the list of Harris allies who reportedly lobbied Biden to make the case for Harris as a vice presidential nominee in late July. Among them were Secretary of State Alex Padilla, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis.

“I looked at that list and thought, ‘this could be the U.S. Senate audition list,’ said Kapolczynski.

The governor will have until January to pick a replacement for Harris. And as the last seven months of pandemic, recession and civil unrest have shown, a lot can change in the meantime.

But as Newsom chooses Harris’ successor, he’s likely to keep a few things in mind.

First, there’s the state’s largest and thoroughly under-represented demographic group.

“I would be shocked if it were not a Latino or Latina, candidly,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant with a focus on Latino voting trends.

Nearly 40% of Californians are Latino — yet the state has never been represented by a Latino in the U.S. Senate.

Two women have represented California in the Senate since 1993, while Harris shattered a series of glass ceilings, serving as the state’s first Black and Asian American woman senator.

Newsom’s modus operandi — from allowing same sex couples to marry when he was mayor of San Francisco to imposing a death penalty moratorium as governor — is to “make history,” said Democratic strategist Garry South. “In this particular case the only way he can do that is to appoint a Latino.”

That’s in part why prognosticators often name both California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Attorney General Xavier Becerra as among the most likely to be appointed.

And as a power bonus, naming either would give the governor the opportunity to choose their respective replacements as well.

In one fell swoop, Newsom would “build an ally in the U.S. Senate, and you also get an opportunity to appoint their replacements in the interim, so (he would) get a whole lot of chits,” Madrid said.

Former Labor Secretary and now Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, state Sen. Maria Durazo and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also appear on the guessing-game short lists of political consultants.

Padilla may be the most natural choice. Long before he became the state’s top elections chief, he got his start in politics working for California’s senior U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein. Padilla also is a longtime ally of the governor — an early endorser in both of Newsom’s gubernatorial campaigns who also served as state chair of Newsom’s aborted run for governor a decade ago.

“They’re very close, they’re very much alike,” said Nathan Ballard, a political strategist who worked for Newsom when he was mayor of San Francisco.

Rep. Karen Bass, a Black congresswoman from Los Angeles who was circulated as a possible vice presidential choice for Biden, makes for another likely contender.

Although women have long represented California in the Senate, the governor will still be under pressure to choose one, said Ballard. With women making up just over a fourth of the Congress’ upper chamber for the first time in U.S. history, “you don’t want to be the one who diminishes the number of women who are in the Senate.”

“To replace a woman with an appointment of a man, I think is politically perilous, because there is still a sense of, ‘We’re not there yet,’” said Katie Merrill, a Democratic political consultant who worked on Kounalakis’ 2018 campaign.

And Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez tweeted her suggestion for a twofer: Los Angeles state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, who recently has been perhaps the Legislature’s strongest advocate for extending Medi-Cal health care to qualifying undocumented residents. The daughter of migrant workers, she was a trade official before entering politics.

Another consideration, said South: electability.

Governors have filled senatorial vacancies five times in California history. The last governor to get that opportunity was Pete Wilson, who jumped from the U.S. Senate to the governor’s office in 1990 and appointed his own successor, fellow Republican John Seymour. Seymour served for fewer than two years before losing to Feinstein.

Before that it was Democrat Pierre Salinger in 1964, who served only five months before losing to a Republican.

“It’s embarrassing for a governor to appoint a senator and then have that senator get their clock cleaned,” said South. Plus no governor wants to lose a loyal friend in Washington.

“It’s like how Gavin Newsom owes (former San Francisco mayor) Willie Brown gratitude forever because Willie Brown got him his start in politics by appointing him to a commission,” he said.

Kapolczynski said electability isn’t likely to be a major issue. It’s been nearly 30 years since either a Democrat or an incumbent U.S. Senator lost her race in California. “Whoever is appointed will have a huge advantage in holding onto the seat in the future,” she said.

This won’t be the first time that Harris’ advancement has set off a statewide frenzy to replace her. After Harris won her first Senate race in 2016, then-Gov. Jerry Brown was given the opportunity to pick her replacement as attorney general. Brown ultimately blindsided political prognosticators by appointing Xavier Becerra — a Los Angeles congressman who, despite a powerful position in Congress’ Democratic caucus, had little home-state name ID.

Asked who she thought it might be, Kapolczynski hedged in every way but one.

“You could see an argument for a Latino. You could see an argument for a Black woman. Newsom has obviously made history for the LGBTQ community in the past,” she said. But a white guy?

“Highly unlikely,” she said.

Laurel Rosenhall contributed to this story. CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.
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