April 3, 2014 |
Thank you, Supreme Court. Before your decision Wednesday in McCutcheon vs. FEC, Americans were confined to giving a measly total of $48,600 in campaign contributions to federal candidates (enough for about nine candidates) and a total of $74,600 to political action committees. That means individuals were subject to aggregate contributions limits totaling a mere $123,200. Of course, individuals could, and still can, give unlimited sums to independent groups, such as so-called super PACs and other nonprofit corporations.
April 2, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court struck another major blow against long-standing restrictions on campaign money Wednesday, freeing wealthy donors to each give a total of $3.6 million this year to the slate of candidates running for Congress. Rejecting the restriction as a violation of free speech, the 5-4 ruling struck down a Watergate-era limit that Congress wrote to prevent a single donor from writing a large check to buy influence on Capitol Hill. It was the latest sign that the court's conservative majority intends to continue dismantling funding limits created over the last four decades.
March 31, 2014 |
Now that the California Senate has voted to suspend three of its members, all accused or convicted of criminal wrongdoing, legislators hope the issue will quickly vanish. And that's precisely the problem with this action. Giving three senators a "time out" - with pay - allows the rest of the members a chance to express outrage, genuine or feigned. However, it doesn't begin to address a larger question: Are these merely three bad apples, or is the larger orchard that is California's Legislature rotten to its core?
March 30, 2014 |
Hobie Alter, who died Saturday at the age of 80, was known as the Henry Ford of surfing. In 1958, he developed the mass-produced foam surfboard with a partner. He later popularized sailing by inventing a lightweight, high-performance catamaran. The impact of his innovation was big; it allowed people who couldn't lift heavy wood boards to surf, and it opened sailing up to those who could never afford yacht club dues. OBITUARY: Hobie Alter shaped Southern California surf culture Alter once said he never wanted to work east of Pacific Coast Highway, and he got his wish.
March 28, 2014
Re "'Dark' campaign money donors need a little light," Column, March 24 What George Skelton and others in Sacramento who oppose "dark" campaign money seem to overlook is that political contributions are, in effect, an extension of the secret ballot. Those who share Skelton's views would never dare suggest that voters must reveal their election picks. Yet it doesn't take a genius to figure out how political contributors plan to cast their ballots in California. Campaign committees must report all individual contributions of just $100 or more.
March 28, 2014 |
If it is true that state Sen. Leland Yee consorted with criminals and did them political favors in return for campaign cash, it is indeed "sickening," as Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said. But this newest scandal, along with the indictment of Sen. Ronald S. Calderon on bribery and corruption charges in February, is merely an extreme example of the long-standing and pervasive pay-to-play culture that permeates the Capitol. Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, was swept up in an FBI sting targeting a gangster known as "Shrimp Boy" and faces federal charges related to public corruption and conspiracy to illegally import firearms.