In summary

U.S. Supreme Court sides with Trump with “public charge case.” Legislation goes further to expose wayward cops. State Senate race draws cries of foul.

Good morning, California.

“We are a nation of immigrants—and we must continue to lean forward in the face of heartless Republican attacks on our working families.”—Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s latest fundraising appeal, reacting to a U.S. Supreme Court decision siding with President Trump in a case involving immigrants who use safety net programs.

‘Wealth test’ for immigrants

California has the largest immigrant population in the country.
California has the largest immigrant population in the country.

A split Supreme Court opened the way Monday for the Trump administration to implement a new “wealth test” that will allow federal officials to deny residency to immigrants who have used or might need public assistance.

Partisan divide: The five Republican presidential-appointed justices sided with Trump, and the four appointed by Democrats urged rejection.

Multiple states, including California, sued to block the rule. The Supreme Court’s brief order lifts a nationwide injunction issued by a federal judge in New York blocking the rule. Litigation will continue.

Part of the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies, the so-called “public charge” rule will make it easier to deny green cards to legal immigrants who have used, or are deemed likely to use, Medicaid, food stamps or other social safety net programs. 

  • White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham: “This decision allows the government to implement regulations effectuating longstanding federal law that newcomers to this country must be financially self-sufficient and not a ‘public charge’ on our country and its citizens.”
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom: “Because of the ‘public charge’ rule, families are already going hungry and people are avoiding needed medical care.”

In California, where over a quarter of residents are immigrants, the rule is a big deal:

  • If the rule survives the courts, as many as 765,000 people across California may stop accessing Medi-Cal and food stamps due to fear, according to UCLA researchers.

To read Ben Christopher and Jackie Botts’ breakdown, please click here.

Seeking to expose predator-cops

Photo illustration

The Legislature took a step toward exposing wayward police officers in 2018 by requiring the public release of disciplinary records.

News organizations led by the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley responded by producing a report last year detailing what those records produced

But there’s a loophole, as the San Luis Obispo Tribune and KSBY discovered when they sought records of Sgt. Christopher McGuire, then of the Paso Robles Police Department. 

McQuire was accused of: 

  • Raping a woman he met while responding to a domestic violence call
  • Coercing a woman into exposing her breasts by threatening her with arrest
  • Having consensual sex with a woman while on duty

Because McGuire quit before the investigation was complete, records remain sealed.

On Monday, the Assembly approved by a 63-2 margin a bill to require the release of records when officers face sexual misconduct accusations but quit while the investigation is pending.

The Riverside Sheriff’s Association, which represents sheriff’s deputies, opposed it, and two  Democratic assemblymen, Evan Low of Campbell and James Ramo of Highland, voted against it.

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, a Republican and former prosecutor representing San Luis Obispo, is the bill’s author:

  • “If it happened before, it will happen again. … Transparency is important. Accountability is important.”

What’s next: The bill heads to the Senate.

Weird top-two primary politics

Man standing near a wall casting a shadow of an elephant and a donkey
Photo via iStock

A Stockton Republican is accusing a Democrat from Modesto of “planting” fake candidates in a state Senate race. 

The Democrat, Modesto City Councilman Mani Grewal, is accusing the Republican, Jesús Andrade, of peddling “conspiracy theories,” CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

Remind me: California voters approved the top-two election system, in which every candidate is placed on a single ballot, regardless of party, and top two finishers move on to the general election. 

  • Ever since, clever politicians and their consultants have been resorting to gamesmanship, or at least are suspected of doing so. Proof is elusive.

In the district that runs from Stockton to Modesto, Andrade is accusing Grewal of convincing two other Republicans to enter the race to split the GOP vote, thereby ensuring Grewal wins one of two top spots against Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Eggman of Stockton in November.

  • One of the Republican candidates, Jim Ridenour, has a history of endorsing Grewal.
  • The other, Kathy Garcia, is 80 and had been a Democrat until six months ago.
  •  N. Allen Sawyer, whom Garcia describes as “kind of” her campaign manager, donated $3,000 to Grewal.

Andrade’s consultant, Steve Presson, invoked a Republican as he criticized Grewal:

  • “These Nixonian dirty tricks are just deplorable. Central Valley voters deserve better.”

Grewal called the allegations “ridiculous.”

To read Christopher’s report, please click here.

They eat their own

Assemblyman Tyler Diep, Republican from Westminster, outside the Capitol, August 2019

Democrats and Republicans are eating their own in a biennial feast on those who don’t quite pass purity tests.

In the Fresno area, Democratic Congressman Jim Costa lost a coveted organized labor endorsement to a challenger from the left, Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria. Costa, a moderate, strays from labor, including on trade legislation.

In Contra Costa County, several unions are backing Democrat Marisol Rubio, who seeks to unseat Sen. Steve Glazer, an Orinda Democra, who also occasionally votes against labor legislation, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher recently wrote.

  • Labor unions have given Rubio $100,000 of the $120,000 she has reported raising so far.

The Orange County Republican Party last week rescinded its endorsement of Assemblyman Tyler Diep, a Westminster Republican. 

Diep faces a challenge from Republican former Sen. Janet Nguyen, seeking a comeback after losing her seat in 2018 to a Democrat, Sen. Tom Umberg. 

Diep also broke from the GOP last year by voting for Assembly Bill 5, an organized labor-backed bill that seeks to require gig economy companies to hire workers rather than use independent contractors.

  • Now, labor is backing Diep’s election, giving him $32,400 so far. 

Why it matters: Party leaders are all but obligated to defend incumbents. That means they must spend campaign money that otherwise could be used to defeat candidates from opposing parties.

Adding to news industry’s woes

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez

A leading news industry analyst weighed in on Assembly Bill 5, the legislation aimed at requiring gig economy companies to hire workers rather than use independent contractors.

In a piece in Nieman Lab enumerating the many challenges facing the news business, Ken Doctor noted that the “physical distribution system that long supported the daily business is falling apart.”


  • “To add an almost comic complication to the challenge of dead-tree delivery: California’s AB 5 just went into effect.
  • “Its admirable aim is to bring fairer benefits to those in the gig economy. But its many unintended consequences are now cascading throughout the state—spelling millions more in costs to daily publishers while wreaking havoc among freelancers.”

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s AB 5 requires companies hire workers rather than rely on independent contractors.

Gonzalez, a San Diego Democrat, carried separate legislation in 2019 granting news organizations a one-year exemption, until 2021.

Tom Newton of the California News Publishers Association:

  • “Getting relief on the delivery issue is the association’s number one issue. The ability of daily and weekly newspapers to continue to serve their communities and inform their readers is that risk if we fail.”

Commentary at CalMatters

David Roland-Holst and F. Noel Perry, Every step we can take to put more EVs on the roads offers potential benefits to all Californians. We can cut emissions, combat climate change, and clean up our air—but only if we’re prepared to save money and help create equitable access to clean cars in the process.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: California’s schools are supposed to be educating nearly 6 million kids but have educational and financial problems galore. Will they be fixed?


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Dan Morain joined CalMatters in March 2018. He is the former editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee. Morain also spent 27 years at The Los Angeles Times, and has covered the Capitol since 1992.