Ventura County Progressive activist Jay Kapitz is continuing to organize a coalition to reform how campaigns are funded. Here is his latest email:
Ventura County grassroots activists, community leaders and average citizens like you will be meeting to organize the local grassroots campaign for the California Fair Elections Act.
Would you like to get politicians out of the fundraising game so they stay focused on the job we elect them to accomplish?
Click on continue reading to see the meeting information and more details. I have seen Jay Kapitz work for other candidates and I know he is very talented at what he does. If you are interested in this issue email him or attend the meeting.
The United States Supreme Court in landmark case of Buckley v. Valeo dealing with Watergate era campaign finance reforms ruled that campaign expenditures were constitutionally protected free speech and cannot be limited but that campaign donations, because of their ability to either cause corruption or because the government has a substantial interest in stopping an appearance of corruption.
For the government to function our elected officials must safeguard the public trust, however little it might be at times, in our institutions and the people that run them.
Elected officials must keep in mind that even if they know that large donations haven't influenced them and even if all of their supporters trust that they aren't under the influence of their donors, that doesn't mean the general public trust you. When the general public hears of large, suspicious donations their natural reaction is to trust less in government and it diminishes their desire to get involved.
For the rest of the entry click on continue reading.
Mike Chandler, the blogger behind VoteSimiValley.com, recently posted this video of Barbra Williamson discussing campaign finance reform and the idea of forming a committee of Simi Valley citizens to come up with ideas for them. Any nominations?
( This video of Steve Sojka at a recent meeting talking about campaign finance reform was filmed by Mike Chandler.)
Mike Chandler, the blogger behind votesimivalley.com, is calling on Barbra Williamson to return some donations from her last campaign that have been at the center of some recent news stories to put the story behind her.
( Here is a video of the mysterious Timm Herdt to help spot him in public. Remember, his name has two M's in it. If you spell it wrong you should expect to experience his full wrath unleashed.)
Star Reporter Timm Herdt has an article up about the early money race between Hannah-Beth Jackson and Tony Strickland.
So far, as expected Tony Strickland is way ahead.
The Hannah-Beth Jackson campaign has many promises from the state party to help her out. But will they put the money in early enough to inspire confidence in local Democrats? If they wait too long they might take away some of the momentum she has going.
The state party is hiring many people to register Democrats locally as I have posted about a few times.
What do you think? Besides this blog and other blogs do you see either campaign out there working?
( Did you see this movie? Very funny. How long until Hannah-Beth Jackson gets a star from the movie at a fundraiser?)
Thousand Oaks outlaws smoking.
Okay, maybe not. But I figured c-razy titles would help drive traffic. Works for the wilder blogs out there.
Thousand Oaks has adopted a new anti-smoking ordinance that "that bars smokers from lighting up in outdoor gathering places, public gardens and playgrounds" according to the story.
This meeting allowed Hannah-Beth Jackson to speak out on the issue and keep the tobacco donations story going.
I wonder what the next costume will be? A man in a slot machine outfit? What costumed characters would you prefer to see outside an event? This is your chance to rail against unions, trial lawyers, oil company CEO's, tobacco companies, or casinos, including horse tracks, card rooms, Tribal gaming, or Vegas casinos! Choose your special interest today.
( Same Butt Man video as before. I add a image or video to the top to help break up the page. This video remains appropriate to the topic.)
I don't know the full background and the reasons that Bob Larkin doesn't support the Ventura County Republican Central Committee ( VCRCC ) leadership but I do remember it was motivating enough for him to run against Audra Strickland in a primary even though she was a Republican incumbent.
Did you see this letter?
If I didn't know better I would assume Democrats begged him to write this letter.
Do you think Hannah-Beth Jackson's campaign will be asking him to endorse her or to take a leadership role in a group of Republicans supporting her?
How influential is Bob Larkin? Can he help her raise money? Does his name and former title help Hannah-Beth Jackson when he is going after Tony Strickland?
Which candidate will get more elected officials from the other party to cross over and endorse them? Both candidates claim to be able to reach across the aisle to work with people but my earlier question asking if they ever worked together has not been answered yet. Are any of you able to tell us what legislation they ever worked on together being that they both represented Ventura County and they both served together?
Here is his full letter:
Tobacco exacts high toll
Re: your June 8 article, "Tobacco firm funds county GOP":
As a 30-year member and past chairman of the Ventura County Republican Party, I was disappointed to hear that after two decades of Ventura being a Republican county, Democrats now outnumber Republicans in registered voters. That wasn't too surprising though, when statewide registration this year has been 20-to-1 in favor of the Democrats -- 300,000 to 15,000. There has to be a message there if the Republicans are listening.
Just when I thought I couldn't hear worse news, I learned that 88 percent of the funds the Ventura County Republican Party has on hand came from one tobacco company, primarily to support Tony Strickland for the California Senate. Local Republicans should not accept money from the manufacturer of a product that kills upwards of a half million people in the United States every year and hundreds of millions worldwide.
I have six personal reasons why the very idea disgusts me:
-- My dad was a heavy smoker and died of a heart attack at age 53.
The 10 children in our family were born in the 1930s and '40s and grew up in the '40s and '50s. Smoking was considered healthy and glamorous. All 10 of us smoked, as did Johnny Carson, live on "The Tonight Show," and nearly everyone in the movies.
-- My oldest brother has emphysema.
-- My next older sister had throat cancer, followed by lung cancer, and died of a heart attack.
-- A younger brother had emphysema and heart trouble before he died in an accident.
-- My youngest brother died in an apartment fire that was apparently started by a cigarette.
-- Twenty-five years after I quit smoking, I lost a chunk of my tongue to mouth cancer.
The idea that the Ventura County Republican Party and the Stricklands have to beg for money from tobacco companies makes my skin crawl. I would hope they can see what that does to their image, get away from it and get back to raising money the old-fashioned way from local Republicans: by earning it.
The good news for my family is that as far as I know, not one of our children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren smokes. One generation paid a very high price for supporting the tobacco industry, and that was more than enough.
-- Bob Larkin, Westlake Village
( What we were missing by attending the protest. What does the NBA and politics have in common? People shove each other and then a debate breaks out about it. Meanwhile the game continues.)
In an effort to minimize my comments I will allow the article to speak for itself. I want to back up the process by which it was written but as I have said in the past I did not witness the man being knocked to the ground and I didn't see Audra's Chief of Staff push him. I did see him stand in front of the path of people walking up the side walk but I don't know what he said as I was too far back to hear it.
I will say that The Star and reporter Teresa Rochester interviewed many people over the last couple of days to make sure the story was accurate. Reading the article you will see that The Star interviewed the key individuals directly.
Protest organizer Louis Pandolfi notified in advance the media and the police about the protest. Although the police on duty didn't know about it The Star staff including Teresa Rochester to cover the event.
Being that there was about 50 partisans on each side their recollections wouldn't be fair to include. But Teresa Rochester was on scene and had many pictures taken as the events described took place. The Star did not publish all of the pictures.
I know that people will quibble with her story but she is part of the few eyewitnesses to the event that wasn't on a side protesting. Another would be The Star photographer.
I have heard a prominent Democrat in the past complain about her being too favorable to those in power ( Republicans ) and that she was too cautious in her writing.
I am sure people will be arguing about this article too.
Here are some more of my photos from the event:
If someone that has Audra Strickland's released letter sends it to me I will post it so you can read it for yourself.
( How much do you expect we will be seeing Butt Man following Tony Strickland around? Rumor has it he might get his own Youtube channel.)
I was at the protest ( those against tobacco money in politics and in support of Hannah-Beth Jackson and/or Barack Obama) / counter protest ( those in favor of Mitt Romney, Tony Strickland, The VCRCC, and against Hannah-Beth Jackson ) outside the Tony Strickland event tonight and I have videos and pictures to share.
( Here is a video of Butt Man explaining why he dressed up as a cigarette to protest against The VCRCC and Tony Strickland for taking tobacco money)
I first want to thank all of those on both sides who stood up for their candidates and causes in a responsible manner. Don't allow a few hot heads to take away from everything else that happened. 99% of the people there were in good moods, shared their views fairly, and were there in a peaceful manner. We had a few laughs about why everyone gets excited by "Big tobacco" but "Little Tobacco" doesn't get any mention.
( Butt Man hanging out with some young Barack Obama supporters.)
When I pulled off of the freeway there was people already gathered to support Mitt Romney, Tony Strickland, and attacking "Taxin' Jackson" for also taking tobacco money through taking donations from those that have accepted donations from other people. Tony Strickland's group was rather large. I would estimate it was about 50 people outside the event but on the narrow sidewalk it was hard to get a good number. If you were there do you think I have the numbers right? I didn't get many pictures of them as they arrived earlier than I did and left earlier then the Hannah-Beth Jackson supporters.
The protesters assembled and walked up to the front of the hotel and that is when trouble started. One of Tony Strickland's supporters tried to stop the crowd that was about 30 strong at that point by claiming they had already called the entire sidewalk in front of the hotel. At least that's what I think he was trying to explain. I was in the back trying to get my new memory chip put in to my camera. Then allegedly the Tony Strickland supporter pushed / bumped into an older gentleman and a young lady. There exists multiple copies of either video of photos of the incident that I will be putting up over the next few weeks so you can decide for yourself what happened.
The Police were called as the older gentlemen was injured ( enough to be concerned but not serious enough for an ambulance) and the younger woman had a slight scratch from a nearby shrub.
The Police took witness statements for pretty much the rest of the protest from anyone and everyone involved or standing near. My friend Brian Mack gave the police a video copy of the incident after the police requested it and told him he could get it back in about a week . The police said they were going to arrest the Tony Strickland supporter for pushing people but the Tony Strickland supporter said it was in fact he who was the victim. He said the Democrats came after him. As the police did not witness the incident they said they could arrest both parties but cooler heads prevailed as organizers ( A campaign manager from Tony Strickland's side *I didn't catch the name. Email it to me and I will add his name in* and Louis Pandolfi who supports Hannah-Beth Jackson) from both sides agreed to save the police hours of paperwork and everyone was free to go back to waving their signs.
( The two sides work together to let the police get on with their shift.)
The demonstrations outside the hotel drew Ventura County sheriff's deputies after a scuffle involving the chief of staff for Strickland's wife, Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Moorpark. Joel Angeles was involved in a dispute with an opponent waving placards chiding Tony Strickland for accepting campaign contributions from tobacco companies. A heated verbal argument broke out between Angeles and Strickland opponents, which escalated to a physical tussle between Angeles and some of the protesters. Louis Pandolfi of Simi Valley, who organized the opposition demonstration, said he expected run-ins with supporters, but not as soon as they arrived.
This is the photo in The Star's story but it is not the same incident that drew the Police to file a report.
The protesters waved signs calling out Tony Strickland for taking tobacco money with a variety of lines on them. They also waved many Barack Obama signs too. I would guess that the average person driving up Westlake Blvd. hasn't been following the politics of tobacco money in Ventura politics but they recognize Barack Obama signs and gave a variety of responses as they drove by. The protesters were organized by a Hannah-Beth Jackson supporter, Louis Pandolfi, from Simi Valley and included people from across Ventura County including Democratic activists, college students, and others. The young Republicans were convinced that people were paid to be there to protest against them. I didn't see any of that and I am pretty sure that the only form of exchange was maybe Butt Man getting a free meal for dressing up.
( Is there an online resource for cigarette based puns? )
Once the police were called and they were notified of the problems with their supporter Tony Strickland's campaign staff ( you know who you are!) did a great job of keeping their side away from the other side.
For anyone organizing any sort of protest one suggestion I have is to keep the two sides separate and out of each others' faces. You aren't there to argue with the other side. Don't have someone walk through the other side for fun and not expect weeks of arguing about who started it or who did what first. How about next time the organizers call each other and divide the areas so as to keep people away from each other? If your candidates are promising to work across the aisle I am sure your staff members or supporters can call each other and work something out. What do you say? One group of protesters on each side of the street sounds fair.
( A Strickland supporter explaining his side of the story as he is questioned by the police.)
I didn't see it and neither did most of you. So, don't assume to know what happened without seeing proof. I will post the tapes as they come into me.
State Assembly candidate Ferial Masry was in attendance. I know her son Omar Masry on a personal level so when she told me someone called her a terrorist ( Ferial is Muslim and was born in Saudi Arabia) I took it pretty serious as calling a Muslim a terrorist sounds like a racial slur to me. I walked up w/ video and asked Ferial to ask him to say what he said again and make it a leading question like " say what you said again, please" but by then another Strickland supporter caught wind and said they had no comment. I wanted to allow the man a chance to clarify himself, admit it, or deny it so it wouldn't become another incident without proof. Later, someone else said they were called a terrorist too but they were of European descent so it sounds like over heated political talk and not much else. But I wasn't a witness to it so I don't want to make too much out of it or vouch for exactly what was said.
The protests ended peacefully with both sides making their point. Tony Strickland's supporters, many of which were dressed in suits, and Hannah-Beth Jackson's supporters chanted in support of their candidate and against tobacco money or hypocrisy.
And last but not least the best video of the night can be found by clicking here. Turn on your speakers loud as it is hard to hear.
( Police officers viewing one of the tapes of the shoving incident. I will post the tape if I can get a copy when the police give it back to the owner of it. Will it be the biggest let down since Al Capone's vault or a little more exciting? )
I maintain my earlier argument that the campaign money from tobacco, because it is so unpopular, isn't worth giving your opponents a campaign issue.
So, did you attend the event inside? How was it? I haven't seen many reports but this is what The Star said why Mitt Romney explained he supports Tony Strickland:
Is there any mistakes in my report you think I should correct? Let me know by email or by leaving a comment and I will look into it. I am sure there are many things that I missed. I tried to report as much as I could and be as fair as possible to both sides. If there is more to include to reach that goal give me some feedback.
The event was expected to raise up to $200,000 for Tony Strickland's campaign.
Judging by the early returns in the news cycle who won the media battle outside?
I am also hearing rumors that Audra Strickland has been talking to people about what office she might run for when she is termed out in 2010. What have you heard?
UPDATE: The Star's editorial cartoonist Stan Greenberg made this cartoon that points out the folly of trying to track campaign contributions. Tony Strickland supporters: Did it accurately capture your thoughts on the manner?
UPDATE: Another local group sent out an email. Here it is word for word:
Although it's not official, Tuesday evening sure looks like the beginning of the general election. Tony Strickland, Big Tobacco's best friend in Ventura County is holding a fundraiser with Mitt Romney in Westlake. You can join the welcoming committee.
Then you can go just down the Conejo Grade to the UFCW building and help kick off the local Barak Obama campaign.
How much more fun can you have on a Tuesday night?
Up In Smoke
Tony Strickland, Republican candidate for SD 19, is having a fundraiser in Westlake with a special celebrity guest.
We've found a celebrity of our own to greet them. Join Butt Man the human cigarette to welcome Mitt Romney to the Conejo Valley and protest the Ventura County Republican Central Committee's acceptance of a $50,000 contribution from Altria (Philip Morris) on behalf of Tony Strickland.
Date: Tuesday, June 17
6 p.m. sharp. The VIP reception starts at 6:30 p.m.
Hyatt Westlake Plaza
880 S. Westlake Blvd.
Make a sign, bring it to wave.
If we stay on the sidewalk, our actions are protected under the First Amendment. We won't go into the hotel, the parking lot or block access to the facility
Obama Meetup/New Volunteer Welcome
Ventura County / 24th CD - OBAMA Meetup
On Tuesday, June 17, 7-9 PM at the UFCW Orchid Room in Camarillo, please join fellow Obama supporters for a meetup / new volunteer welcome.
We will be joined by Deborah Dent, CD 24 Coordinator, Obama for America.
( Mitt Romney talking about McCain's similarities to Bob Dole.)
The arguments over the ethics of the Ventura County Republican Central Committee taking money from a tobacco company to be used on behalf of their candidates, including primarily Tony Strickland, is not going away anytime soon.
Supporters of Hannah Beth Jackson and other groups upset with the introduction of a large amount of tobacco money into Ventura County politics will be protesting outside Tony Strickland's fundraiser next week.
(There also might be a group opposed to the idea of Mitt Romney being a candidate for VP working with them. )
They have been sending press releases to all sorts of media across the county and even into Santa Barbara County. This looks like this is just the kick off in the battle over what his opponents are attempting to show is dirty money.
I have always maintained that taking tobacco money was going to cost the Ventura County Republican Central Committee and Tony Strickland more than it was worth.
Republicans have been countering by pointing out that the State Democratic Party takes money from cigarette companies too. But this misses my analysis. I am not lecturing Republicans why it is wrong ( if they don't get why it is wrong for either party to take tobacco money they aren't going to shift their views anytime soon on it) as much as I am arguing it is going to allow many negative stories and a chance Tony Strickland to be defined as a candidate.
If the election is about campaign finance the Democrats will win. Like it or not voters hate cigarette companies more than they hate environmentalists, teachers' unions, and maybe even trial lawyers. (But tobacco company trial lawyers have got to be one step above DUI lawyers in the public's mind.)
If the election is about raising taxes on the average voter then Tony Strickland can win. This tobacco money storyline is taking away his chances to discuss his strengths as a candidate.
The VCRCC has put him on the defensive in a way that allows his opponents to define him as an ally of tobacco interests. I have watched Tony campaign many times but he has never been depicted as a tool of tobacco interests before. The VCRCC is allowing it to happen to him. Were they in need of money that bad?
Tony Strickland is favored to win. But this is going to make it harder. He is a great campaigner, he has access to large amounts of money, he has decent name ID, and his field campaign is very well organized.
He also doesn't care if his critics make fun of his GreenWave energy company, he mentions it as a part of his stump speech. The more he talks about GreenWave the better for him.
Expect Republicans to hit back with full force looking into Hannah beth Jackson's campaign finance records. But that doesn't seem like a winning tactic as it just continues the conversation over campaign finance. Is that something Tony Strickland wants? Tony is best when he is on the offensive. This donation allows Hannah Beth Jackson to bring up old charges again with a fresh appeal to it.
So, are you going to be at the fund raiser on the inside or out on the streets?
Here is the press release from the protest group:
PROTEST AGAINST $50,000 TOBACCO DONATION TO VCRCC & TONY STRICKLAND FOR
We will be protesting the Ventura County Republican Central Committee's acceptance of a $50,000 contribution from Altria (Philip Morris) on behalf of Tony Strickland. We view a contribution of this size as very significant and a further indication that the tobacco industry will continue to attempt to buy politicians in California. No other single company is responsible for more deaths of American citizens. Mitt Romney, keynote speaker at the Strickland fundraiser and on the shortlist for Republican Vice President, should speak out about tobacco and the cancer it continues to spread throughout our Nation.
Date: Tuesday, June 17, 6:00 P.M.
Place: Hyatt Westlake Plaza
880 S. Westlake Blvd.
I predicted that the Democrats under the leadership of Hannah Beth Jackson would make the Ventura County Republican Central Committee regret soliciting $50,000 from a cigarette company to help Tony Strickland in the fall campaign.
( Another defense of cigarette company donations)
Hannah Beth Jackson has sent out an email that appears to be just the opening to the attacks she will be directing at Tony Strickland. Expect months of the barrage aimed at how campaigns are financed.
In the comments section several people have pointed out that the state Democratic Party has taken tobacco money and that the state party gives money to local candidates and parties.
Is there degrees of guilt? Is there a difference between soliciting the donation and getting money from a state party that gets it from somewhere else?
There is two major problems with donations from sources the public doesn't trust as I see it.
1. It appears that the special interest group is trying to buy a legislator's vote. If this is the case it is on the person making the accusation to prove the politician altered their behavior in the way the special interest group favored. Has the California Democratic Party changed their positions after receiving tobacco money? Go do your research. What were the most important bills that the tobacco companies had an interest in?
2. The special interest group is funding a candidate that shares a policy preference. In this case we should know what the shared view is between the two. What issues does Tony Strickland or the state Democratic Party agree with tobacco companies on? Does Hannah Beth Jackson have any evidence that Tony Strickland agrees with the tobacco companies? What are the bill #'s from his days in the assembly?
Click on continue reading to see the latest email from Hannah Beth Jackson.
In other Hannah Beth Jackson news when you look at the email check out the new sophistication in Hannah Beth Jackson's campaign in her email which includes many ways to connect to the campaign.
For some Tony Strickland news Timm Herdt's top blog entry is about Mitt Romney's upcoming fundraiser for Tony Strickland that Strickland said he expects will help him raise $200,000 towards his state senate campaign.
Here is a video of Tony Strickland talking about why he supports Mitt Romeny: