Politics, government and public life for Southern California

House Ethics Committee had a busy year

It was a busy year for the House Ethics Committee.

In its end-of-the-year report, the House Ethics Committee says it met 35 times in 2012. That's more than twice the number of meetings in the year before.

A great part of the committee's time is spent training Congressional staffers about the rules and regulations. It also answers questions - a lot of them, apparently. Over the past two years, the committee fielded 40 thousand requests for "guidance" from staffers via phone, email or personal visits to the Ethics office.

The other side to the House Ethics Committee is its investigative work.

Over the past two years, it looked into nearly 100 different matters. The committee publicly addressed 27 of its investigations - just under a third of the total cases.

Several of those cases involved Californians.

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Los Angeles candidates ask supporters to celebrate New Year's Eve with campaign donations

Pile of money

Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons

Los Angeles' municipal candidates want Angelenos to ring in the new year by donating to their campaigns. Midnight is the deadline for this fundraising cycle.

When the clock strikes midnight, it won’t just be a chance to part with 2012.

Candidates for city office in Los Angeles hope it’s a chance for you to part with your cash.

Today is the last day in this cycle to donate to candidates running for mayor, city controller, city attorney and the Los Angeles City Council. This round of fundraising numbers will be posted to the Ethics Commission's website on Jan. 10.

In their efforts to get more donations, candidates have taken to email and social networks. The day after Christmas, Controller Wendy Greuel, who is running for mayor, sent out an email that read, “One of the things I’m thankful for this holiday season is your ongoing support.” She then asked for $35 before the fundraising deadline.

Councilman Eric Garcetti, also a candidate for mayor, emailed this poem to his supporters Monday: 

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CA Senator Boxer cautiously optimistic Congress can avoid going over the fiscal cliff

Mercer 1821

AP Photo

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. expresses some optimism that Congress and the White House can avert the fiscal cliff. Negotiations between the sides continued before the midnight Monday deadline.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden worked overnight on a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. But Monday morning, Majority Leader Harry Reid said “a number of issues” still divide Democrats and Republicans.

Just what’s in the agreement isn’t clear. Reporters aren’t the only ones in the dark.

Senator Barbara Boxer says only a couple of people really know what’s in the proposal. She says she's hearing "leaks about it, we’re hearing rumors about it, we don’t know if we’ll have the deal."

The Democrat from California says it’s important not to prejudge the package before anybody sees it. On the Senate floor, Boxer urged bipartisan discussion. "One party doesn’t run the show," she said. "It is shared responsibility. It is frustrating. It is difficult."

She pointed out the example of one bipartisan success in 2012: a two-year transportation bill hammered out with the GOP leader on her committee, James Inhofe of Oklahoma. "You couldn’t find two people more philosophically apart than we are."

Boxer – who spent a decade in the House – urged John Boehner to follow the example of former U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neil, who understood that the magic number of 218 meant votes from either side of the aisle. She said Speaker Boehner, "who I know and like personally, but it seems like he doesn’t want to talk to the Democrats. Nothing is going to get done for our country if we don’t talk to each other."

Boxer said she was “cautiously optimistic” Congress will be able to find a deal that’s “fair enough” to avoid the cliff. 

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Maven's Morning Coffee: financial abuse in Assessor's Office, a rundown on race for controller, Villaraigosa spends weekend partying in Cabo

jann_on/Flickr Creative Commons

Former county appraiser Scott Schenter is expected to be the prosecution's star witness in the case against Assessor John Noguez, who is accused of bribery and conspiracy.

Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Maven's Morning Coffee -- a listing of the important headlines, news conferences, public meetings and announcements you need to know to fuel up and tackle your day.

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Today is Monday, Dec. 31, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

The Los Angeles Times looks at property appraiser Scott Schenter's role in financial abuses within the Assessor's Office. "Schenter, who has pleaded not guilty to 60 felony counts including fraud, has spent hours with The Times and investigators from the L.A. County district attorney's office this year discussing details of the alleged conspiracy and is expected to be the prosecution's star witness," according to The Times.

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Dianne Feinstein takes assault weapons ban to the people with petition

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) takes to Senate floor

Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says her proposed assault weapons ban isn't about taking away anyone's constitutional right to bear arms.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has promised to re-introduce an assault weapons ban when the new Congress is sworn in. But she's not waiting until January to push for public support.

Senator Feinstein has sent out an e-mail blast, asking supporters to sign a petition to back her ban on assault weapons. Feinstein says she wants to show "how much public support is behind" such a ban.

Feinstein says it isn't about taking away anyone's constitutional right to bear arms: "This is about removing weapons of war from our businesses, movie theaters and schools."

Feinstein was the author of a previous assault weapons ban passed by Congress in 1993. It expired in 2004. She says the new bill will be a stronger version of the earlier law, proposing to ban the sale, importation, transfer or possession of new assault weapons. It will also ban high-capacity clips, magazines, and strips that hold more than 10 bullets. 

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