Good morning, California.

“The crimes for which Sen. Wright was convicted —  … perjury, false declaration of candidacy, and fraudulent voting — were non-violent in nature. Moreover, Sen. Wright has devoted much of his life to public service. — Gov. Jerry Brown’s legal secretary, Peter A. Krause, urging the California Supreme Court to recommend clemency for former state Sen. Rod Wright.

Wright, a Gardena Democrat, was convicted in 2014 of living outside his district and lying to voters about it. He argued the law was unevenly enforced and unclear, but went to jail, where he served 71 minutes. Brown this year signed legislation clarifying the code section.


Campaign home stretch: Follow the money

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Insiders know where candidates can win and where they’re on the ropes. So with only about three weeks to go before election day, their money speaks volumes:

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan’s campaign arm omitted an Orange County Republican congressman who is fighting for his career.
  • A well-funded environmentalist operation is raising its spending to help Democrats take control of the House.

Congressional Republican Dana Rohrabacher was omitted from the Ryan-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund’s October advertising spending.

Nonpartisan election analyst Stuart Rothenberg told the LA Times: “Republicans are taking a cold-blooded look at races to decide where to put resources and where to withdraw resources to put somewhere else.”

Things can change. On Sunday, Ryan’s PAC disclosed spending $281,500 to help reelect Orange County Republican Congresswoman Mimi Walters, a day after The Times reported that the Congressional Leadership Fund snubbed her.

The League of Conservation Voters, meanwhile, is focusing its effort to flip at least three Republican seats in California. The LCV Victory Fund will spend about $2 million to:

  • Unseat Rohrabacher and Congressman Steve Knight of Palmdale.
  • Elect Democrat Mike Levin in the North San Diego County seat held by outgoing Republican Darrell Issa. Look for spending in at least one more seat held by the GOP.

Clay Schroers, LCV Victory Fund national campaign director, said messages about climate change resonate with California voters: “The path to retaking a pro-environment House majority goes through California, and LCV Victory Fund is all-in.”

Numbers: Republicans hold 14 of California’s 53 congressional seats. Democrats must win 23 seats to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

A note on initials

Notice the fine print the next time a commercial for or against a congressional candidate interrupts your television show.

  • The disclosures won’t say the ad is paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee or Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which you’d recognize as arms of the parties.
  • Rather, they say they’re paid for by NRCC, DCCC, or by some other group that goes by initials. The Republican committee changed its name to NRCC in 2014 and the Democrats’ committee became DCCC in 2015.

Trent Lange of the California Clean Money Campaign calls the name change  “a blatant attempt to conceal the true nature of the committee from voters.”

Harris watch

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris

Looking ever more like a presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is traveling as all contenders must to visit Iowa next week. The latest wisdom of California political insiders, as told to the California Target Book Insider Track survey: 55 percent say it is somewhat or very likely a Californian makes the 2020 ticket, for president or vice president.

CALmatters Elizabeth Castillo writes that when asked whom they had in mind, the overwhelming favorite was Harris.

  • LA Mayor Eric Garcetti was a distant second. The survey is based on Target Book subscribers, an assortment of politicos, lobbyists and consultants.

Harris will be in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids on Oct. 22-23. Presumably, it won’t be quite as icy as it was when the then-San Francisco district attorney bundled up and knocked on doors in December 2007 and January 2008 for her friend, then Sen. Barack Obama.

  • A twist in the road to the White House in 2020: Candidates will be coming to California for more than Hollywood and Silicon Valley money. Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation last year moving California’s primary up to March 3, tailor-made for a favorite daughter or son.


Why is an AIDS organization funding rent control?

Michael Weinstein, center, at an AIDS march in 2012.

It’s no surprise that apartment owners, real estate interests and corporate landlords have spent $61 million to kill Proposition 10, an initiative that threatens their income by reinstating rent control in California.

But the main funder of the Yes on 10 campaign comes from what might, to an unpracticed eye, be an unlikely source.

  • The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a Los Angeles-based not-for-profit, states that its  mission is to ”rid the world of AIDS through a network of pharmacies, thrift stores, healthcare contracts, and other strategic partnerships.”
  • The AIDS Healthcare Foundation disclosed giving $3 million to the Yes-on-10 campaign last week, pushing its total to $20.5 million, of the $22 million raised so far for the measure
  • Critics ask: What does that have to do with rent control?

The foundation’s total is four times more than the $5 million given by largest single No-on-10 donor, the California Association of Realtors.

To go deeper, click here.

Kevin McCarthy's brother-in-law's lucrative 'heritage'

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s brother-in-law used a dubious claim of Native American heritage to win $7.6 million in no-bid federal contracts at U.S. military installations in and near McCarthy’s district, The Los Angeles Times reports.

  • A Bakersfield Republican close to President Donald Trump, McCarthy is in line  to become Speaker if Republicans hold control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • McCarthy’s brother-in-law, William Wages, is principal owner of Vortex Construction, which received the contracts. McCarthy’s mother-in-law co-owns Vortex, and it employs his father-in-law and sister-in-law.

The Times: “Vortex faced no competitive bids for most of the contracts because the Small Business Administration accepted Wages’ claim in 1998 that he is a Cherokee Indian.”

Wages claims membership in Northern Cherokee Nation, which has no federal or state recognition as a legitimate tribe, and is considered a fraud by leaders of tribes that do have federal recognition.

  • Bottom line: There’s no evidence that McCarthy steered business to his brother-in-law. But the story won’t help McCarthy’s ascent.

What mattered yesterday

President Taft at Golden Gate Park. (Courtesy of the California State Library.)

On Oct. 14, 1911, President William Taft broke ground in Golden Gate Park for what four years later would become the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Taft proclaimed San Francisco to be “the city that knows how.”

That know-how entailed vastly outbidding competitors, The San Francisco Chronicle noted. The exposition “celebrated not only the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914 but the rebirth of San Francisco after the devastating 1906 earthquake,” according to a recent exhibit at the California State Capitol Museum.


Commentary at CALmatters

Robbie Hunter, State Building & Construction Trades Council: What is the hardest, dirtiest job you’ve ever had? This is a question that we need to be asking all of our elected and prospective elected leaders, as it is an important lens for how they experience blue-collar Californians.

Robert Peoples & Ron Greitzer, Los Angeles Fiber: California’s recycling rate has dropped from 50 percent to 44 percent. The carpet recycling rate is one bright spot. The 2017 carpet recycling output rate increased by 27 percent over 2016 and is up 100 percent since the third quarter of 2015. Those increases show the program is working. CalRecycle should let the program continue to expand.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Four measures on the November ballot purport to address California’s housing crisis, but they are minimalist at best, and one would make it worse.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.