Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Michael Bloomberg's PAC could boost challenger in Ontario Congressional race

Mercer 20515

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, second from left, is behind Independence USA, a political action committee that will support candidates willing to crack down on illegal weapons.

Seems like everybody’s creating a political action committee this year — from Stephen Colbert to the brother of a Fullerton Congressional candidate.  Now, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is getting into the Super PAC act. And his support could help a Democratic challenger unseat a Democratic Congressional incumbent in the Inland Empire.

Bloomberg made the announcement on his website. He’ll spend at least $10 million supporting gay marriage ballot propositions, as well as moderate local and Congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle who work in a bipartisan manner.

The New York Times identified one of those candidates as California State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, who's running for Congress. She first heard the news after returning to her office from a funeral. She says there were "tons of e-mails" telling her about an article in the Times.  "And I said, 'About what?'”

Because of California’s “top two” election system, McLeod is running against another Democrat, incumbent Ontario Congressman Joe Baca. He was both shocked and surprised by the news and asked, “Why am I being attacked from the East Coast and Bloomberg?”

The issue is guns. Bloomberg says he’ll support candidates who will crack down on illegal weapons. When Baca first ran for Congress in 1999, the National Rifle Association named him one of its “Defenders of Freedom.” On this year's NRA report card, the group gives Baca a “B+” grade — described as “generally a pro-gun candidate.”

Baca says he believes in protecting the Second Amendment of the Constitution — the right to bear arms. He says it’s important to uphold that right, "But I also believe that we need to focus on firearms that fall into the wrong hands."

Most California Democrats in Congress rate an “F” from the NRA. Baca points out McLeod got a “D,” which the NRA gives to "anti-gun" candidates who usually support restrictive gun control legislation.

But McLeod's position on guns sounds similar to Baca’s. She says she also believes in the Second Amendment: "My husband is a former police officer so we, in fact, do have guns.  They’re put away in a safe. I don’t have a problem with legitimate people having guns as long as they’re registered and they know how to use them."

Baca — who won the primary by nine percentage points — has raised $900,000 for his campaign, with nearly $300,000 in cash to spend in the last few weeks before the election. McLeod has raised less than a third of that amount, with less than $100,000 in cash on hand.

An infusion from Bloomberg could make a difference to McLeod’s campaign, but she notes it would be an independent expenditure. "I have absolutely no control" of that kind of contribution, she says.  "I can’t even see it. I don’t know anything about it, they can’t coordinate with me."

McLeod says this isn’t the first time the promise of campaign PAC money has been rumored.  In the primary, there was talk of money for candidates challenging incumbents. It never materialized for her.

Attempts to get a response from Mayor Bloomberg and his Independence USA PAC were unsuccessful. 

 

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Money, money, money in California Congressional races

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) isn't facing serious competition in November, so she's using her fundraising prowess to help other Democrats.

It’s perhaps no surprise that the biggest campaign fundraiser in California is Dianne Feinstein, who’s spent more than two decades in the U.S. Senate. According to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, Feinstein has raised more than $8.2 million this season.

Sen. Feinstein's GOP challenger, Elizabeth Emken, has not yet filed her October quarterly fundraising report. But the Center for Responsive Politics says Emken, who’s run a persistent online campaign, has raised less money than some House members: $189,000.

Feinstein has more than $3 million in cash on hand. That's enough to help out fellow Democrats, including a $200,000 check to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Feinstein is still recovering from having her campaign fund cleaned out last year by Kinde Durkee, described as "the Bernie Madoff of campaign treasurers." Feinstein doesn't have exact figures for the missing cash, though her FEC statement lists more than $100,000 this quarter.

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Follow the money in Palm Springs Congressional race

Raul Ruiz and Mary Bono-Mack

KPCC and Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Emergency room physician Raul Ruiz is running against Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district.

The Federal Elections Commission just released the latest report on campaign contributions.  It's mind numbing stuff.  But the numbers provide a snapshot of just which industries and individuals are willing to put up big dollars for candidates.

The 36th Congressional district in the Coachella Valley is currently held by eight-term Republican Mary Bono Mack. She's being challenged by a political novice, Democrat Raul Ruiz. Big money is being spent on this race.  So far, more than $3 million has been raised by the two candidates. In this past quarter, Ruiz took in $156,000 more than Bono Mack. 

Because Ruiz is an emergency room doctor, it's not surprising that most of the individual contributors to his campaign are medical professionals — surgeons, dentists, psychiatrists, even a veternarian. He's also gotten money from attorneys, Harvard professors (he's a Harvard grad), and real estate developers. Hollywood is represented: actress Valerie Bertinelli kicked in $2,500. A senior VP at Warner Brothers kicked in another thousand.

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Howard Berman and Brad Sherman launch scathing TV ads in congressional campaign

The congressional battle between two Democrats in the Western San Fernando Valley that some call “the ugliest race in America” is now playing out on TV with new attack ads.

One from Congressman Howard Berman focuses on his physical confrontation with Congressman Brad Sherman during last week’s debate at Pierce College. The ad shows Sherman swinging his arm around Berman.  It also cites a Washington Magazine article that said Sherman was one of the meanest members of Congress.

“Ineffective. Mean. And Too Angry,” proclaims the ad.  “Brad Sherman is just not fit to represent us.”

Sherman has expressed regret for the debate outburst. “This was not wise.”

The Sherman attack ad features cardboard cutouts of Berman in a Hawaiian shirt traveling the world.  It accuses him of taking 146 trips “paid for by taxpayers, corporations, and special interests” during his 40 years in elected office in Sacramento and Washington D.C.

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Maven's Morning Coffee: county assessor arrested, LA Chamber lobbys City Hall, LA Times says no to Measure B

jann_on/Flickr Creative Commons

County Assessor John Noguez was arrested on 24 felony counts for allegedly accepting bribes from a tax consultant in exchange for lowering the assessed values on properties owned by the consultant's clients.

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Today is Thursday, Oct. 18, and here is what's happening in Los Angeles:

Headlines

Los Angeles County Assessor John Noguez was arrested on charges of bribery, conspiracy and perjury for allegedly accepting $185,000 in bribes in exchange for lowering the assessed values on Westside properties. Los Angeles Times, Daily News, KPCC, LA Weekly.

Which Way, L.A.? looks at Silicon Beach and follows up on the John Noguez arrest.

The director of a Los Angeles recreation center was arrested on charges of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds for allegedly stealing $15,000, including funds that were intended for children's lunches, reports the Los Angeles Times. The case was referred to the district attorney by the controller's office.

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