On politics in the Golden State

Category: Barbara Boxer

Did California lawmakers ride to Lance Armstrong’s aid?

Photo: Lance Armstrong in 2011. Credit: Getty ImagesLess than a week after the United States Anti-Doping Agency banned cyclist Lance Armstrong for life for allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs, 23 California lawmakers sent a letter to the state’s two U.S. senators urging them to conduct a “comprehensive review of the organization.” While never mentioning Armstrong by name, the letter raises concerns that “the USADA has unilaterally changed the rules by which athletes who have never failed a drug test are prosecuted.”

The letter was signed by 23 state lawmakers, both Democrats and Republicans.

“We respectfully ask that you … conduct a comprehensive review of USADA’s operations and finances,” the letter continued.

In an interview with Times reporter Lance Pugmire, the wife of one of Armstrong’s former teammates suggested the letter was a product of Armstrong’s political connections aimed at destroying the reputation of his enemies.

"He had political connections, from the president of France trying to shut down a drug lab, to the head of the criminal division of the Department of Justice, to those in the California Legislature who wanted to review USADA's funding after the report,” said Betsy Andreu, wife of cyclist Frankie Andreu.

Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which he reportedly confesses to doping, will air on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Thursday and Friday.


Some around Lance Armstrong view TV confession with skepticism

 Lance Armstrong campaigns for California cigarette tax measure

Lance Armstrong to give $1.5 million to push California tobacco tax

--Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: Lance Armstrong in 2011. Credit: Getty Images

State PTA chief responds to Feinstein, Boxer on Prop. 38

One day after receiving a scolding letter from California's two U.S. senators and top legislative Democrats, the head of the California State PTA, a chief backer of Proposition 38, has fired off a letter of her own.

Addressing the letter to Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, along with Assembly Speaker John A. Perez and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, PTA President Carol Kocivar stopped short of an iron-clad pledge to not mention a rival tax measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown and top Democrats as part of the Yes on 38 campaign. But she assured the nervous Democrats that the focus of the Proposition 38 campaign would be on policy.

"I can assure you that California State PTA will continue to advocate on behalf of all children in a manner that is mutually respectful and aimed at educating voters in a constructive, fact-based manner about the vital policy issues and solutions presented by the initiatives," she wrote.

That said, Kocivar did point out some perceived hostilities to Proposition 38 from Gov. Jerry Brown's camp.

"Some supporters of Proposition 30 are formally and actively opposed to Proposition 38. Some even formed a political committee and also submitted ballot arguments against Proposition 38 and testified publicly against Proposition 38," she wrote. "Perhaps a good first step in creating a positive environment is to urge supporters on both sides to agree not to formally and actively oppose each other's initiatives."

Ballot arguments against Proposition 38 were signed by officials of the California State Sheriffs' Assn. and the California Medical Assn., both major backers of Proposition 30. A No on 38 fundraising committee has been set up by Democratic consultant Jason Kinney, who counts Steinberg as a client.

Although little money has materialized to formally oppose Proposition 30, backers of Brown's tax measure fear the Proposition 38 campaign, which has the financial backing of attorney Molly Munger, could drag down support for the governor's initiative.

Early messaging from the Yes on 38 campaign is rooted in a critique of Sacramento politicians. Proposition 30's backers view a well-funded campaign drawing strong comparisons between the two measures, and fanning voter distrust of state lawmakers, as a major political threat.


Trailer for Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Last Stand' is released

Bills to limit lawmakers' gifts and give Olympians tax breaks are shelved 

Watchdog agency approves $49,000 fine against Yes on Prop. 8 campaign

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer call for tax campaign truce [updated]

California’s two U.S senators don’t like what they’re seeing from the Proposition 38 campaign.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer sent a letter to the head of the California State PTA, the sponsor of Proposition 38, imploring them to stop what they call “personal attacks against Gov. Jerry Brown” that they fear could sink the governor’s tax measure, Proposition 30.

Proposition 38, which has been financed by wealthy Pasadena attorney Molly Munger, seeks to raise income taxes across the board to help raise money for schools. Brown’s measure uses a mix of taxes on the wealthy and sales to raise money that would be used to close the state’s chronic budget gap.

"We have watched the campaign for Prop. 38 become increasingly negative ..." the Senators wrote in a letter, co-signed by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "These attacks should stop."

The letter calls for Proposition 38’s proponents to adopt a "positive campaign compact" in which “the two campaigns would refrain from directly attacking or referring to the other. We have spoken with Gov. Brown, and he will strongly support this.”

[Updated, 4:14 p.m., Aug. 16: The Yes on 38 campaign said it would not make any changes to its  campaign because of the senators' letter. "Prop 38 will help California's public schools more than any other measure on the ballot,"  said campaign spokesman Nathan Ballard, "and we won't shy away from communicating about that fact in a civil, respectful manner.]


Bills to limit lawmakers' gifts and give Olympians tax breaks are shelved

Trailer for Arnold Schwarzenegger's 'Last Stand' is released

Watchdog agency approves $49,000 fine against Yes on Prop. 8 campaign

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Julia Brownley backed by national Democrats

Democratic Assemblywoman Julia Brownley confers with Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) last year.

If there was ever much doubt that Assemblywoman Julia Brownley is the choice of national Democratic leaders for an open Ventura County congressional seat, recent campaign developments should have pretty much erased it.

Late last week, the House Majority PAC, which is raising and spending money to elect Democrats to Congress, began running a cable television ad supporting Brownley, a Democrat who moved from Santa Monica to Oak Park for the race.  The group spent about $156,000 on the ads, which are scheduled to run for a week.

On Tuesday, California’s two U.S. senators, both Democrats, announced they were endorsing Brownley.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein called Brownley “a champion for education in California.”  Sen. Barbara Boxer said Brownley  could be counted on “to protect California’s environment, women’s health and Medicare for our seniors, which have been under unprecedented attack by the extreme right.”

There are three other Democrats in the race—Realtor/entrepreneur/CEO Albert Maxwell Goldberg, Oxnard Harbor Commissioner Jess Herrera and independent small businessman David Cruz Thayne.

Republicans have rallied around state Sen. Tony Strickland  of Moorpark.  Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, who switched her registration from Republican to decline-to-state, also is on the ballot.

The newly drawn 26th Congressional District has been targeted by both major political parties. Democrats hold a slight registration edge over Republicans, 40%-36%, with 19% of voters unaffiliated with any state-recognized party.

The two-top finishers in the June 5 primary, regardless of party, will advance to the November general election.


S&P sounds alarm over April tax revenue

Tax revenue $3 billion less than target, report says

Cash flow dips but California's finances secure, controller says

--Jean Merl

Photo: Democratic Assemblywoman Julia Brownley confers with Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) last year. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press


Roundup: A bill to limit bills; Barbara Boxer blasts GOP's environmental agenda

Roundup2There are so many bills introduced each legislative session that someone has introduced a bill to limit bills, The Times reports. Read it here.

Congressional Republicans' environmental agenda is called a "slash-and-burn proposal" by Sen. Barbara Boxer. Environmental laws and policies of every size and shape are under attack. Read it in The Times.

Publicly, no Republican is willing to admit crossing the aisle to talk to Gov. Jerry Brown about supporting his budget plan. But a few have done so "under the cover of darkness," the governor says. Read it here.

The next front in Wisconsin's contentious budget/union battle may be recall elections. Read it here.

And California gets another area code. This time the Bay Area takes the hit. Read it here.

California's Democratic senators join tributes to Reagan

Hey, Ripley, believe this or not, but California Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal champion, joined U.S. Senate colleagues Thursday in tributes to Ronald Reagan, a conservative champion, for the centennial of the former president’s birth.

Despite her disagreements with Reagan -- and she had plenty -- Boxer said, "Ronald Reagan showed all of us that you can disagree without being disagreeable and that even if you have sharply different views on some issues, you can still work to find common ground.’’  She praised his “sunny presence.’’

California’s other Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, offered similar praise. "He was a conservative Republican, but he understood that in order to get anything done, he had to work across the aisle,’’ she said.

Senators from both parties quoted the Great Communicator extensively and recounted their personal experiences with him.

Among centennial events planned this weekend are a fighter-jet flyover, 21-gun salute and a Beach Boys performance at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, and a tribute to the Gipper before Sunday’s Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Texas.

House members are expected to deliver Reagan centennial tributes next week.

-- Richard Simon in Washington

Democrat Barbara Boxer, Republican John Mica plan second 'date' -- in Los Angeles

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer's and Republican Rep. John Mica's date for President Obama's State of the Union speech went so well, there will be a second date, in Los Angeles.

Asked how the unusual seating arrangement went, Boxer joked on MSNBC on Tuesday night, "You know, what happens in the House chamber stays in the House chamber.'' 

Boxer of California and Mica of Florida were among lawmakers from opposing parties sitting together for Obama's address in response to calls for greater civility in Congress. They chose each other because they chair the Senate Public Works and House Transportation committees, respectively, which will write the next big transportation bill.

Boxer did not use the seating arrangement to push Los Angeles' bid to secure federal aid to accelerate expansion of its public transit system. The senator, who is backing L.A.'s efforts, said she has already bent Mica's ear on the issue and is encouraged.

The two chairs will be back together at a transportation town hall meeting they plan to hold in Los Angeles next month before their panels begin writing the legislation. 

But there could be limits to their chumminess.

When they disagreed on controversial proposals for strengthening Social Security during their appearance on MSNBC, Boxer told Mica facetiously: "I cancel our date right now.''

-- Richard Simon in Washington

Former gubernatorial candidate Whitman joins Hewlett-Packard Board of Directors

Former EBay chief Meg Whitman, who has maintained an exceedingly low public profile since she lost the governor’s race in November, has been named to Hewlett-Packard’s Board of Directors, the company announced Thursday.

The firm was once led by Whitman's Republican ballot mate, former Senate nominee Carly Fiorina, who was fired after clashing with the board and members of the founding Hewlett and Packard families.

The appointment of five new members to the board, announced after the stock market closed for the day, comes as the company is trying to clear the board of those loyal to former chief executive officer Mark Hurd. He resigned from the company amid controversy and has since joined rival Oracle.

“Meg Whitman is a true visionary and thought leader who brings to the HP board unique experience in developing transformative business models, building global brands and driving sustained growth and expansion,” Raymond J. Lane, non-executive chairman of the Board of Directors, said in a press release.

Whitman led EBay for a decade, during which the startup online auction firm grew into a multibillion-dollar  global force. The billionaire then plunged into politics, first advising Mitt Romney's and John McCain’s 2008 presidential bids before making her own record-breaking run for office.

Whitman spent more than $141 million of her own money on her run, shattering records for both self-funding and for overall spending in a non-presidential race. Though she pummeled former Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to secure  the GOP nomination, Whitman lost decisively to Democrat Jerry Brown in November.

Whitman has not spoken publicly since losing the race,  and declined to comment through a spokesman.

“She'll be taking assignments to some boards that are important companies to the future of California and the country,” said spokesman Rob Stutzman.

Former H-P chief executive Fiorina had no immediate comment. She has laid low since her November loss to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and, like Whitman, has not yet announced whether she sees a future in politics. The two candidates appeared together the day after their primary wins, and pledged to campaign together, but never did.

Others named to H-P’s board were Shumeet Banerji, chief executive officer of Booz & Co.; Gary Reiner, former chief information officer of General Electric Co. and a current special advisor to private equity firm General Atlantic; Patricia Russo, former chief executive officer of Alcatel-Lucent, and Dominique Senequier, chief executive officer of AXA Private Equity.

-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles

Carly Fiorina concedes defeat in Senate race

After monitoring results overnight, Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina conceded defeat Wednesday morning after her hard-fought race with Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, stating that she was proud of every moment of her campaign.

Speaking to reporters and a small group of supporters with her husband at her headquarters in Irvine, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive said the experience had been a privilege and that she had been touched by every person she met across California. She said she ran because she was concerned that attaining the American dream had become too hard for too many people and that she was still worried about out-of-control spending in Washington.

"We had an exceptional campaign," Fiorina said. "In the end we could not overcome the registration that Democrats have, and in particular in L.A. County."

RELATED: Which pollsters called California's races right?

Fiorina said she hoped her effort would lead Boxer and others in Washington to “redouble their efforts to make sure Americans have the opportunity to live the American dream.”

"The fight is not over, the fight is just beginning," she said.

She did not take questions or discuss her plans for the future.

The two candidates battled for months over the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s programs -- with Fiorina calling for the repeal  of the healthcare bill and returning unused stimulus money to the treasury. Fiorina had argued Boxer had been in office too long and had lost touch with her constituents.

Boxer relentlessly argued that Fiorina was a heartless chief executive who had laid off workers and shipped their jobs overseas -- making the case that she would be a champion for millionaires and billionaires rather than the middle class.

In a short speech at her election night party Tuesday, Fiorina criticized networks and newspapers for calling the race based on exit polls and early returns. But she called Boxer early Wednesday morning to congratulate her on her reelection to a fourth term.   

Boxer declared her win at her party in Hollywood before midnight Tuesday. She called the race “the toughest and roughest campaign of my life,” adding that it was her “11th straight election victory, and what a sweet one it is.”


Which pollsters called California's races right?

-- Maeve Reston in Irvine

Photo: Senate candidate Carly Fiorina hugs supporters after conceding  the election to her rival, incumbent Barbara Boxer, outside Fiorina's Irvine campaign headquarters. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times

Which pollsters called California's top races correctly, and which missed the mark?

In the final 10 days before the election, 14 polls of the races for governor and U.S. Senate in California were released by 10 nonpartisan polling organizations.

Those pre-election polls divided into two noticeably different camps.

One group, which included the L.A. Times/USC poll and the Field Poll, projected hefty wins by Democratic candidates Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. The other, which included polls by the Rasmussen organization and Public Policy Polling, showed both Democrats likely to win, but by much smaller margins. Some showed the Senate race in particular getting closer.

Republican candidates and strategists were, of course, eager to draw attention to the surveys in the latter group. The Republican candidate for governor, Meg Whitman, directly attacked the Times/USC poll in several speeches, saying incorrectly that Times polls always favored candidates the paper had endorsed.

In the end, Brown won by 12 points and Boxer by nine. The poll that came closest to nailing the results: The L.A. Times/USC survey, which had projected a 13-point margin for Brown and an eight-point margin for Boxer. Field, which had projected margins of 10 points for Brown and eight for Boxer, came in a close second.

The worst record? The Rasmussen surveys, which were conducted for Fox News and Rasmussen’s own survey website. Those polls projected a Boxer margin of three points and a Brown win by four.

Several differences could account for the gap among the polls. The polls that did best are ones that used the traditional method of live interviewers calling people and interviewing them on the telephone. The Field Poll and the Times/USC poll called both landlines and cellphones.

Some of the polls that were in the less-successful group are so-called robo-polls that use automated interviews. Those polls have been reasonably successful in the past, but some polling analysts this year said they thought the robo-polls were producing results that were too weighted toward Republican candidates.

Another point of difference involves the models that pollsters use to determine which voters are likely to actually cast ballots. The Times/USC survey based its likely voter model on questions about a person’s enthusiasm about voting this year, the respondent’s expressed certainty about voting and his or her voting history. Some Republican analysts said that the emphasis on past voter history was screening out Republicans who had not voted in 2006 and 2008 but who would show up this year. In the end, those hypothetical voters turned out to be something of a mirage. Exit polls this year showed an electorate that was quite similar to the group that voted in the 2006 midterm elections.


Carly Fiorina concedes defeat

Prop. 19 had strong youth and Bay Area support

-- David Lauter


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...





Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: