Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Money and the Congressional midterms: Who's got the most green?

Elan Carr Ted Lieu

Carr Campaign/Lieu Campaign

Republican Elan Carr, left, and Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu are two of the candidates in what is shaping up to be an expensive race to succeed retiring Congressman Henry Waxman.

You can learn a lot from sifting through the campaign spending reports filed quarterly with the Federal Elections Commission. The deadline to report donations and expenditures from January-March was April 17. Here's what we've learned about California's Congressional races:

1. Cheap Open Seats:

It's early yet, but if you wanted to run for Congress and didn't have access to a lot of money, this was the year to make a try. This quarter, four candidates running to replace George Miller in San Francisco's East Bay raised $158,000. That's the total for all four candidates. Compare that to the average campaign war chest this time of year for an incumbent in California of over half a million dollars.

The cheapest place to run in California this year is in the 35th district in the Inland Empire, vacated by Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod. Two candidates in that race have together raised less than $65,000. 


Friction lingers among Asian-Americans over affirmative action debate

CAUSE dinner Asian American Garcetti

Frank Stoltze

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the annual CAUSE dinner. Affirmative action wasn't on the agenda, but the debate simmered on the sidelines.

Last Friday, just about everybody who is anybody in Asian-American politics gathered at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The occasion was the annual benefit dinner for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE), a non-partisan group that works to develop leaders and register voters.

The speakers included Congressman Mike Honda of Palo Alto, perhaps the dean of Asian-American politicians in California, and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

But among the inspirational stories of political empowerment, you heard nothing about the hottest issue in Asian-American politics these days: the fight over affirmative action.

“A lot of people are privately talking about it,” said CAUSE Chairman Charlie Woo, a big political donor to Asian-American politicians. (He also sits on the KPCC board of directors.)


Maven's Morning Coffee: Bell administrator sentenced to prison, South LA sidewalks fixed, DWP shuts off electricity to delinquent customers

Mercer 15780

Irfan Khan/AFP/Getty Images

Former Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

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

The Maven's Morning Coffee is also available as a daily email. Click here to subscribe.

Today is Thursday, April 17, and here is what's happening in Southern California politics:


Former Bell administrator Robert Rizzo was sentenced to 12 years in prison on corruption charges. He was also ordered to pay $9 million in restitution. "I breached the public's confidence. I am very sorry for that," he said in court. Los Angeles Times, KPCC

Which Way, LA? considers the culture of corruption in Los Angeles County.

The Department of Water and Power has resumed shutting off electricity to delinquent customers, saying that is ongoing billing problems have been resolved, reports the Daily News. The utility has a backlog of $242 million in unpaid bills. "Ratepayer advocate Fred Pickel said DWP is justified in again cutting off delinquents 'now that the system is showing progress and more stable'," per the newspaper.


Who is David Kanuth and how did he raise all that money?

David Kanuth is dark horse candidate in the race to succeed Westside Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman.

Venice defense attorney David Kanuth separated himself from a crowded field of candidates in a competitive Westside Congressional race by raising almost $800,000 from individual donors in just two months.

The 33rd Congressional District has been represented  for decades by Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, but when he announced his retirement in January, 21 candidates jumped into the race. They include well-known political veterans such as State Senator Ted Lieu and former L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel, and New Age author Marianne Williamson.

Kanuth, a 37-year-old Democrat, doesn't have that kind of name recognition. He's a native of Columbus, Ohio, who attended Harvard as an undergrad, then came to Southern California where he created Internet startup companies. He has lived on the Westside since 1999, except for three years while he attended law school in Washington D.C.


Jay-Z and Garcetti make it official: Made in America fest is coming to LA (updated)

Shawn "Jay Z" Carter and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti - Press Conference

Paul A. Hebert/Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP

Mayor Eric Garcetti, left, and Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter announce the Made in America Festival from the steps of City Hall on April 16, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Alice Walton/KPCC

Rapper/entrepreneur Jay-Z stood with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on the Spring Street steps outside City Hall, the proposed site for the main stage at the Made in America festival.

Photos from social media | Map of proposed closures | Proposed street closures

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and entrepreneur/rapper Jay-Z stood outside City Hall Wednesday morning to formally announce the two-day Made in America festival will take place in downtown L.A. over Labor Day weekend.

The announcement comes despite concerns from the city councilman who represents downtown, Jose Huizar, over the effect on downtown residents and businesses, and the notion of a public park being used for a ticketed, commercial event. The event could draw as many as 50,000 people daily.

Garcetti and Jay-Z spoke on the Spring Street steps, the proposed location of the festival's main stage, overlooking Grand Park. The festival is slated for the park and surrounding streets on Aug. 30 and 31. Garcetti didn't talk about Huizar's concerns, but the Mayor's Office said nothing has been finalized regarding street closures. A spokesman did say festival organizers would reimburse the city for the costs of providing security and rehabilitating Grand Park after the event.