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Campaign updates on a busy Wednesday....

THERE THEY GO AGAIN: I wrote here in May about the sleazy tactics of the deceptively named "California Senior Advocates League," which has now sunk below even its own subterranean standards. Now it's sending out material it doesn't even have to report as a campaign expenditure because the mailings are allegedly "issue ads" that don't take positions on candidates.

In the last couple of weeks it has sent out a mailer attacking Sen. Fran Pavley and another attacking Senate candidate Hannah-Beth Jackson. Take one quick look at them and someone -- anyone -- tell me with a straight face that they're anything other than campaign hit pieces.

Now, I don't have anything against campaign hit pieces. They're part of the process. But to use a phony, deceptive name to send them and to make it darn near impossible for most folks to figure out who's paying for them, that's a concern.

Most of the money to the alleged "Senior Advocates League" flows through an outfit called the California Now Independent Expenditure Committee -- perhaps itself deceptively named to invite intentional confusion with California NOW, the state chapter of the National Organization for Women. The biggest donors to that expenditure committee are developers ($500,000), insurance companies ($350,000), Chevron ($250,000) and cigarette-maker Philip Morris ($250,000).

The biggest deceit about these latest mailers is the notion that they are "issue ads." With a huge stretch, that argument might be charitably acknowledged in the case of Pavley, who is a sitting member of the state Senate and is actually able to cast a vote on policy issues. But Jackson hasn't been a member of the Legislature since the end of former President George W. Bush's first term.

What possibly could be accomplished by placing a phone call to "tell Hannah-Beth Jackson to stop the waste"? No more than by calling your Mom, your car mechanic or your gardener and asking them to do the same.

"Issue ad," indeed.

'DISHONORABLE MENTION' FOR McKEON: Rep. Buck McKeon of Santa Clarita, seeking re-election in the new 25th Congressional District that includes most of Simi Valley," today made the "Dishonorable Mention" list when the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington issued its annual "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" list.

Say this for the list: It's bipartisan. Of the 12 who made it, there are four Democrats and eight Republicans.

McKeon qualified for the "dishonorable" list because he was among members of Congress who received favorable mortgage loans from Countrywide Financial.

In its report, the center includes the following paragaph taken from an internal Countrywide document referencing the loan and McKeon's status as an "FOA" (friend of Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo). Here's what it says:

"FOA referral, Please order appraisal ASAP. You may call the borrower at his Washington office (number redacted) and get the son's phone number for the appraiser contact. The borrower would like to hear from the appraiser this week. The borrower is a bit difficult to deal with. He seems on the edgy side."

TEACHERS CAN BRING ELECTION INTO CLASSROOMS: Secetary of State Debra Bowen and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson are reminding high school and middle school teachers that they have until next Friday (Sept. 21) to sign up to have their classrooms participate in the 2012 MyVote California Student Mock Election.

The mock election will be conducted Oct. 30, and students will cast unofficial votes for president, U.S. senator and the 11 statewide ballot propositions.

Registration information and teaching resources are available here.

NEW WEBSITE: Sen. Tony Strickland, Republican candidate in the 26th Congressional District, sent out an email today inviting folks to take a look at his new campaign website.

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95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at therdt@vcstar.com
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