PolitiCal

On politics in the Golden State

Category: Proposition 8

California Democrats weigh in on Prop. 8 decision

SupremeCourtGayMarriage
California Democrats were quick to weigh in Friday on the Supreme Court's announcement that it will rule for the first time on same-sex marriage by deciding the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the California voter initiative that limited marriage to one between a man and a woman.

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris said in a statement that the high court's decision to hear arguments next year "takes our nation one step closer to realizing the American ideal of equal protection under the law for all people."

"For justice to prevail, Proposition 8 must be invalidated so that gay and lesbian families are finally treated with equality and dignity," she said.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who kicked off the gay marriage debate eight years ago as mayor of San Francisco by allowing same-sex couples there to get marriage licenses, took to Twitter.

"Supreme Court here we come," he wrote. "Love will triumph over fear!"

If the justices had turned down the appeal from the defenders of Prop. 8, it would have allowed gay marriages to resume in California, but without setting a national precedent.

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), California's first openly gay speaker, said the high court's decision to take up Prop. 8 is "a reminder that the pathway to justice is long and difficult."

"I am very confident that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of our community ... and affirm that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional," Perez said in a statement. "But until that outcome is secured, our community must continue to fight for justice on every front.”

[UPDATE, Dec. 7, 3:41 p.m.: State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said gay rights advocates had momentum on their side.

"The issue of full equality for everyone is fundamental to the American way of life," he said in a statement. "“In the courts and at the ballot box, there is ever increasing recognition that a person’s sexual orientation should have nothing to do with his or her civil rights, including the right to marry whomever they choose."]

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--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

Twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: A supporter of same-sex marriage holds a flag that depicts two wedding bands outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., last month. Credit: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Gov. Jerry Brown puts dog on hunt for votes

Has the campaign for Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure gone to the dogs?

As supporters of Proposition 30 struggle to convince voters to approve a multibillion dollar tax hike that is teetering in the polls, they are trying a new pitch to motivate campaign volunteers: reward their work with a visit from the governor’s dog.

Sutter, the governor’s Pembroke Welsh corgi, will visit 30 Democratic Party field offices “to ‘Bark out’ the Vote for Prop 30,” said a release from the party. “Volunteers who show up on tour stops and make at least one hour of phone calls to voters will have a chance to meet Sutter as he travels across the state.”

But wait, there’s more.

Like a chance for volunteers to “get a limited edition Sutter Brown trading card as a souvenir of this unique campaign effort.”

If you want to meet the governor’s dog, fine. Just don’t bring your own.

“Volunteers are also being asked to kindly leave their canine companions at home if they plan on coming into a California Democratic Party campaign office to volunteer for this event as many offices are not set up to accommodate multiple dogs,” the release said. 

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-- Evan Halper in Sacramento

 

Assembly speaker to perform in Prop. 8 play '8'

Speaker John A Pérez with Dustin Lance Black
Assembly Speaker John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles) will soon be trying his hand at another profession: acting.

California's first openly gay speaker will join an all-star cast in San Francisco next month for a reading of "8," a play about the federal trial to overturn Proposition 8, the controversial ballot initiative that took away the right of same-sex couples in California to marry.

The performance, set for Oct. 7 at the American Conservatory Theatre, will serve as a benefit for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the nonprofit group that spearheaded the court case against Proposition 8. Past readings have featured celebrities, including George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

For Perez, the role is personal.

He will play Gary Segura, a Stanford professor who testified about the underrepresentation of gays and lesbians in politics and the history of anti-gay ballot measures. In a lengthy cross-examination during the trial, a lawyer for Proposition 8 challenged the notion that gays had been politically targeted, citing, among other things, Perez's election as the state's first openly gay speaker.

“As someone whose own rights were taken away by Proposition 8, and Proposition 22 before it, I am deeply honored to be participating in a production that brilliantly and vividly captures the critical moments of the trial that led to Judge Vaughn Walker’s groundbreaking ruling,” Perez said in a statement.

Perez said the play "captures the passionate feelings of those who wake up every day looking forward to that moment when every LGBT person in America is treated with dignity, respect, and equality in the eyes of the law.”

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--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

Twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, right, speaks with "8" author Dustin Lance Black. Credit: Office of Assembly Speaker John A. Perez

Proposition 8 author vows to fight for Assembly seat

Andypugno

The author of Proposition 8 is vowing to continue his fight for an Assembly seat in the Sacramento suburbs, despite an earlier pledge to drop out if he failed to finish first in the June primary.

Andy Pugno, who drafted the ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California, came in second to incumbent Assemblywoman Beth Gaines (R-Rocklin) but told the Sacramento Bee this week that he had decided to continue his campaign because of what he called his opponent's "dishonest and unethical campaign tactics" in the final days of the primary.

"As the only other candidate on the November ballot, stepping aside and simply handing the election to Beth Gaines would be fundamentally unfair to the voters in light of a primary election tainted by her blatant dishonesty," Pugno said in a statement. "Whether or not the incumbent should be reelected is a decision that belongs to the voters, not just to me."

In the primary campaign, Gaines distributed a flier that falsely claimed Pugno "ran an organization that circumvented nonprofit laws to allow special interests to pay for legislative junkets in Hawaii."

According to the Bee, Pugno has never been associated with the group in question -- the Pacific Policy Research Foundation. His law firm simply shared a mailing address with the organization. Dave Gilliard, Gaines' political consultant, told the newspaper that voters would hold Pugno to his primary pledge.

As of June 30, the last time the campaigns reported spending to state election officials, Pugno had $4,303 in cash on hand, compared to Gaines' $36,335. Since then, the Proposition 8 author has reported receiving two campaign donations totaling $4,900, including a $3,900 check from Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield).

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-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

Twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Andy Pugno at a news conference in 2009. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Campaigns against Prop. 8 fined $80,000 for reporting violations

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Three political committees that fought a 2008 ballot measure banning gay marriage in California have agreed to pay $80,000 in fines to the state ethics agency after admitting they violated campaign finance rules.

The fines come less than a month after the state Fair Political Practices Commission levied $49,000 in fines against ProtectMarriage.com -- Yes on 8 for failing to properly report more than $1 million in contributions.

Altogether, the fines against the four political committees on both sides of the issue represent some of the largest penalties imposed over a ballot measure in California, and a reflection of how hard-fought and bitter a contest it was, officials said.

"An unprecedented number of contributions" hindered the ability of the campaigns to report them all within strict deadlines, said Steve Mele, treasurer for the campaign committee No on 8, Equality for All. That campaign agreed to pay $42,500 in fines for failing to meet deadlines for reporting $724,000 in contributions.

Similar violations resulted in the Human Rights Campaign California Marriage PAC -- No on Prop. 8 Committee agreeing to pay $6,000 in fines, and Equality California Issues PAC paying $31,500 in penalties. The commission meets Sept. 13 to vote on accepting the fines agreed to by the campaigns and its enforcement staff.

Proposition 8 generated passion on both sides of the issue bringing in hundreds of thousands of mostly small contributions from all over the country. The opponents alone spent $40 million, and the records of all the contributors were so lengthy they crashed the Secretary of State’s website.

The Human Rights Campaign committee made a "good-faith effort'' over the fast six-month campaign to comply, said spokesman Michael Cole Schwartz. 

The enforcement staff of the state ethics agency recommended lower-than-maximum fines in part out of acknowledgment the late reporting involved a small fraction of the total contributions.

"Such fines are imposed on virtually every campaign of this type, and given the unprecedented magnitude of small donations to the campaign, it’s no surprise that this campaign was fined," said Stephan A. Roth, a principal with Equality California. "Campaign leadership acted responsibly to ensure that enough money was retained at the end of the campaign to cover any fine."

Phillip Ung, a policy advocate for California Common Cause, said he can’t recall an initiative in which the various campaigns had so many violations. Many campaigns, he said "calculate the fines as the cost of doing business. This occurs often with initiative campaigns because the fines are so low and there are no individuals held accountable to any criminal charges."

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Steve Ledoux, left, and his spouse, Mark Becktold, who were married before Proposition 8 was passed, are shown in February celebrating an appellate panel ruling striking down the measure. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 

 

California campaign against gay marriage faces $49,000 in fines

California campaign against gay marriage faces $49,000 in fines The campaign committee for Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure banning gay marriage in California, faces $49,000 in fines for failing to properly report and handle political contributions it received.

The fines are proposed by the enforcement staff of the state Fair Political Practices Commission against the campaign committee ProtectMarriage.com—Yes on 8 for failing to properly file public reports disclosing late contributions and contributions over $5,000, as well as failing to properly dispose of an anonymous $10,000 contribution. More than $1 million in contributions were not properly reported.

In all, the campaign committee faces 18 counts of violating state campaign finance laws.

The campaign committee has admitted to the violations and agreed to the fines, but the FPPC will consider its staff recommendation at an Aug. 16 meeting.

Proposition 8, which limited marriage to a man and a woman, was approved by California voters but struck down by a federal appeals court. Andy Pugno, an attorney who has represented the campaign committee, was not immediately available for comment.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: Steve Ledoux, left, and his spouse Mark Becktold, who were married before Proposition 8 was passed, are shown in February celebrating an appellate panel ruling striking down the measure. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

 

GOP leader urges Prop. 8 author to exit Assembly race

Andy Pugno
Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway is urging donors in the Sacramento suburbs to push the author of Proposition 8 out of a heated Assembly race and rally around the GOP incumbent.

In a letter to donors this week, Conway said Andy Pugno, author of the ballot measure banning same-sex marriage in California, was breaking his pledge not to campaign against the top GOP voter-getter in the June primary, Assemblywoman Beth Gaines (R-Rocklin), and mounting an "expensive and counter-productive campaign" against the incumbent.

"I hope you will join me in urging Andy Pugno to keep his pledge and suspend his campaign, so we can all come together and concentrate on restoring conservative leadership to the state," she wrote.

Pugno did not return a call for comment. He told the Sacramento Bee on Wednesday that Conway's plea was "a blunder that highlights they've lost touch with real people who are sick and tired of business as usual." Pugno told the newspaper that, despite his previous pledge, he had not yet decided whether to run against Gaines in November.

The June primary turned into a conservative purity contest, with Pugno vowing to fight what he characterized as the relentless efforts of the liberal Legislature to undermine the people's vote against gay marriage.

In her appeal to donors this week, Conway noted that Gaines was dedicated to "upholding policies that promote strong families" and voted against a bill that requires the teaching of gay history in public schools.

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-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Andy Pugno, general counsel for the Yes on Proposition 8 Campaign, responds to a question during a news conference in Sacramento in 2009. Credit: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Only in California: Democrats on offense in Assembly races

While the storm clouds are gathering for national Democrats, here in California, Democrats are hoping to add to their majority in the state Assembly.

Polls show Assemblywoman Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills), who won a narrow victory over Republican Jack Sieglock in a banner Democratic year two years ago, has opened a wide lead over Sieglock this time around. And in a Sacramento-area seat long held by Republicans, Democrat Richard Pan has raised more than $1.4 million in his race against Republican Andy Pugno, one of the authors of Proposition 8, the 2008 measure that outlawed same-sex marriage. The race between Pugno and Pan has turned into one of most hotly contested races this year. In the last week, Democrats have moved more than $400,000 into Pan's campaign, mostly through the state and various county Democratic Party committees.

Republicans see the race between incumbent Democrat Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) and San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson as their best chance for a pickup this fall. That race is also a rematch of the 2008 election. More than $3.5 million was spent on the campaign in 2008.

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Attorney general debate: Kamala Harris, Steve Cooley clash

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Kamala Harris and Steve Cooley exchanged harsh words in a spirited first debate Tuesday, the only scheduled face-off between the two major-party candidates for California attorney general.

Republican Cooley focused on Harris' refusal to seek the death penalty for the killer of a San Francisco police officer. And Democrat Harris criticized Cooley for his refusal to take a position on Proposition 23, the November ballot measure that would repeal the state's greenhouse-gas law.

Cooley also took a swipe at Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown for championing local control on the campaign trail, even as he pursued legal action against cities for violating state environmental laws.

The debate covered a wide range of issues, including marijuana legalization, gay marriage, the federal healthcare law, as well as the state prisons.

Harris said that state officials "must comply" with mandates handed down by three federal judges who were currently holding the state's prison system in receivership. Cooley said he would fight the judges' recommendations to the state's highest court.

"The experience with these panels and these recommendations is they are very costly, often very ineffective, and I would appeal the decisions of the three-judge panel all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court," he said.

And Cooley said he would not hesitate to collect his local pension if he were elected attorney general. The attorney general makes about half of what Cooley currently collects as Los Angeles district attorney.

"I've definitely earned any pension rights I have," the candidate said.

When asked for a response, Harris said with a laugh, "Go for it, Steve. You've earned it; there's no question."

Live coverage of the debate is available here.

-- Anthony York in Davis, Calif.

Brown rips Whitman's jobs plan, defends climate-change law and his decision not to fight for Prop. 8 [Updated]

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown tore into Republican rival Meg Whitman on Thursday morning, accusing the billionaire of having a major conflict of interest concerning her proposal to eliminate state taxes on capital gains.

“Her so-called jobs plan, which is as phony as a three-dollar bill, is to give tax breaks to herself in one of grossest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen in a campaign,” Brown said during his weekly interview on KGO radio in San Francisco.

Whitman has said previously that several other states do not tax capital gains and that such a move would spur investment and spending.

Brown on Thursday countered that the proposal would rip a $5-billion hole in the state’s already troubled finances and that, instead of providing tax relief for ordinary Californians, it would only benefit the wealthiest who have investment income.

“It’s a gigantic ripoff,” Brown said.

[Updated at 9:34 a.m. The Whitman campaign said her proposal will spur job growth. "Jerry Brown's nonsensical statements are further proof that he will do anything to protect the status quo and appease the unions who have raised and spent $18 million in support of his campaign. Millions of middle-class Americans and retirees pay the capital gains tax every year," said spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera. "Meg's plan encourages people to invest their money so more jobs can be created -- something this economy desperately needs."]

Pressed for how he would revive the economy, Brown pointed to his green-jobs plan, which he said would create 500,000 jobs over the next decade.

He criticized reports that attorneys general from four other states are preparing a legal challenge to AB 32, the state’s landmark global-warming law, if it is not put on hold by voters in November. He said the law would reduce dependence on oil, which would be good for the environment, the economy, national security and public health.

“Those four AGs, those states, they are either unwilling dupes or conscious allies of not only oil companies from Texas, but oil companies from Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela, all the people who enjoy grabbing our dollars because of our oil addiction,” Brown said.

Brown, the state’s attorney general and a supporter of same-sex marriage, also defended his decision not to appeal a legal ruling that found Proposition 8, which denies gay couples the right to marry, unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court declined on Wednesday to force Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to defend the proposition, which was passed by voters in 2008.

Brown said he took an oath to uphold state and federal law, including the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that no person shall be denied equal protection of the law.

“The federal law is supreme and takes precedence over state law,” Brown said.

Whitman has said that if she were elected governor, she will appeal the ruling. The former EBay chief supports civil unions for same-sex couples, but opposes gay marriage.

-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles

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