By Roger Straw
[Originally published in the spring of 2018 following the Parkland, FL mass shooting, republished here in November 2018 following mass shootings in Pittsburgh, PA and Thousand Oaks, CA. – R.S.]
School shootings and other mass murders will never stop until we elect new leaders who are willing to stand up to the NRA. Below you will find links to organizations dedicated to ending gun violence. Many are focusing on electing new leaders who stand for change. Please click on at least one today – sign a petition, make a contribution, join or start a new group. Renew your commitment to resist!
Repost from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat [Editor: note some of the same unfriendly giants as in Benicia: Valero Energy of course, and the law firm Nielsen Merksamer (“Bay Area-based law and lobbying firm that specializes in political and public-sector cases”). – R.S.]
Oil and real estate interests pour money into Petaluma and Santa Rosa races
By Will Schmitt & Hannah Beausang, November 2, 2018, 8:57PM
More than $100,000 from oil and real estate interests has been funneled into city council races in Sonoma County’s two largest cities, highlighting how outside groups have ponied up to influence voters in the Nov. 6 election.
Of the pair of independent expenditure campaigns, the most visible has been in Petaluma, where a committee backed by several large oil companies has poured more than $78,000 into the race for mayor, according to campaign finance records.
The second spending effort is by a national real estate group that has spent more than $31,000 in favor of several city council candidates in Petaluma and Santa Rosa.
In Petaluma especially, the rush of outside spending has caused a stir. The two campaigns there have separately generated mailers supporting two mayoral candidates — Mike Harris and Brian Powell — and online ads and mailers supporting Harris and two others running for council seats, incumbent Dave King and candidate Michael Regan.
Brian Sobel, a Petaluma- based political analyst and former city councilman, called the level of outside spending in the city election unprecedented.
“It’s not been in Petaluma’s tradition or history to have independent expenditures committees singling out individual candidates and supporting them,” Sobel said.
Campaign finance rules limit individual donations directly to candidate campaigns to $200 in Petaluma and $500 in Santa Rosa per donor per election cycle. But there is no cap on how much money individuals or organizations can dole out through independent expenditure committees. The committees must report their spending to election authorities and are barred from coordinating with candidates.
Independent expenditures to sway elections are not new, though their prevalence and power has increased since the 2010 Citizens United case before the U.S. Supreme Court. It did away with independent political spending limits for corporations, labor groups and other entities on free-speech grounds.
The group responsible for the largest amount of spending in Petaluma this year goes by the name Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class, Including Energy Companies who Produce Gas, Oil, Jobs and Pay Taxes. The committee has received millions of dollars from oil giants Chevron, Valero Energy and Phillips 66, according to campaign finance documents filed with the California Secretary of State.
The committee reported spending about $62,300 as of Friday to support Harris, a former councilman who is making his second bid for the mayor’s post. The oil-backed group also reported spending $15,800 in favor of Powell, a political newcomer and environmentalist who has embraced a strong anti-growth platform for the city.
Powell, Harris and Councilwoman Teresa Barrett are vying to replace Mayor David Glass, who is retiring.
The oil-backed coalition’s motives were not immediately obvious.
The phone number listed on the filings is associated with the San Rafael office of Nielsen Merksamer, a Bay Area-based law and lobbying firm that specializes in political and public-sector cases. Chevron Corp., Valero Energy and Philips 66 are listed as clients on the firm’s website.
Steven Lucas, the coalition’s registered agent, did not respond to requests for comment.
Barrett said she believed the outside spending was an attempt to bolster the chances of her rivals for the mayor’s post and deny her a public platform. Barrett is a strong pro-environment voice who serves on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which regulates regional refineries. The district’s leadership comprises local elected officials, and Barrett would have to step down if she came up short in the mayor’s race, she noted.
Repost of an email from SwingLeft [Editor: Anything we can do to help flip California’s 10th Congressional District (Northern San Joaquin Valley, including Modesto, Tracy, etc.) – we should do! This is a fundraiser email, but it has good info about candidate Josh Harder and his Trumpish Republican opponent. Josh Harder’s website is at harderforcongress.com. – RS]
Hey Swing Left CA-10,
Meet your Democratic nominee, Josh Harder, who accepted the nomination in CA-10 last week! Harder is a small business leader who teaches at Modesto Junior College. He’s campaigning on Medicare for All, immigration reform, and investing in infrastructure for the Central Valley. He also wants to overturn Citizens United, restore the Voting Rights Act and put an end to gerrymandering.
His opponent, Republican incumbent Jeff Denham, voted to repeal Obamacare, voted for the GOP Tax Scam, and is against women’s right to choose. He’s also taken money from the NRA. On the subject of climate change, he says “nobody really knows the cause” and doubled down with a cynical and glib suggestion that “maybe we should kill the cows to stop the methane, or stop breathing to stop the CO2.” We say maybe he shouldn’t be a member of the House anymore!
Grassroots donors have already raised more than $200,000 for the Swing Left District Fund for CA-10, which has been given directly to Josh Harder’s campaign. Early money like this enables candidates to hire campaign staff, open offices, and buy ad time at a cheaper rate to help flip this important seat blue.
Now that we’re in the general election season, there are two big ways you can help Democrats take back the House in November:
Stay involved. Forward this email to your friends and let them know about the official nominee for your Swing District. We’ll be in touch soon with more opportunities to hear directly from the candidate and volunteer to help the campaign win in November.
Ethan, Miriam, Michelle, Matt, and the Swing Left Team
P.S. Here’s Josh accepting his Big Blue Check. Let’s keep it going!