Democratic party

May 162017
 
Eric Bauman

Eric Bauman

Eric Bauman, the so-called kingmaker of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (LACDP), is now seeking to become king himself.   He is running to become Chair of the California Democratic Party (CDP), potentially turning the institution into the largest pay-to-play operation in the States.

Eric Bauman, a nurse turned manager turned legislative staffer, already receives a generous six-figure salary from his job as senior adviser to whoever the Assembly speaker is at the time – he’s done it for John Perez, Toni Atkins and now Anthony Rendon -, but his real money comes from Victoryland Partners, a political consultancy business he runs together with his husband, Michael Andraychak, and Adam Seiden , the Executive Director of the LA Democratic Party.  In 2016 alone, Victoryland Partners received over $450,000 from the campaigns behind (or opposing) several ballot propositions.   Among their clients were pharmaceutical corporations that wanted to fight Prop 61, which would have reduced the cost of medicines paid for by the California government.   Despite being endorsed by Bernie Sanders, the Nurses Union and every progressive in the state, Prop 61 failed to get the endorsement of the California Democratic Party.  After a campaign against it that reached nine figures, it was defeated at the ballot box.  Bauman seems unwilling to take credit, but he won’t disclose who, exactly, is funding his campaign for Chair of the Party.

As LACDP chair and vice-chair of the Party, Bauman uses his influence to get the Democratic Party to endorse candidates of his liking.  He then profits from these endorsements through a loophole on campaign finance law.   While campaign finance laws limit how much money candidates for state office can receive from any one contributor, political parties and PACs (known in California as independent expenditure committees)  have no such limitations.   PACs are not allowed to coordinate their ads with candidates.  Both must list contributions, but as PACs receive theirs from fewer sources, it’s easier to link a candidate with the industry that supports him.  Getting contributions from a dirty money PAC can quickly become a campaign issue.

Campaign laws, however, allow political parties to send out as many campaign ads as they want supporting political candidates to their members through member-to-member communications.  Corporations trying to quietly support candidates can thus contribute money to the Democratic Party, which will then spend it on the candidate of their choice. The ads will say that they are paid for the California Democratic Party, rather than paid by the bad PAC, and no one will be the wiser.  The corporation’s contributions will be seen as contributions to the Party rather than to a specific candidate.    While it’s illegal for these contributions to be earmarked, earmarking is virtually impossible to prove, and therefore it’s rampant.  These member-to-member communications can only be done for candidates that have been endorsed by the Party – the true value of the Democratic Party’s endorsement, and the reason why candidates fight fiercely for it, is that it allows them to use the Party to launder such campaign contributions.

At the state level, the leaders of the Assembly and the Senate are the ones that decide which candidates the party will launder money for and which consultants they will use.  Both the party and the consultants take a cut for their services.  Bauman has a very close relationship with both John Perez and Toni Atkins, who were the Assembly speakers in 2014.  In that year, he raked somewhere between $10K and $100K  as a “salary” from the California Democratic Party.  The Party doesn’t pay vice-chairs; according to Party insiders, he was paid these funds as the consultant.

At the local level, money for endorsed candidates is funneled through Central Committees and sub-regional “United Democratic Campaigns” or UDCs.  I have written about how the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, where I serve, and the Ohlone Area UDC have engaged in this semi-legal money laundering before.   Eric Bauman would apper to also rake in money “consulting” for the Los Angeles Democratic Party, of which he is chair. Indeed, he also lists a $10K to $100K salary from that institution for 2014 and 2015.  The position of county party chair itself is not paid.

As if these ways of financially exploiting his relationship with the Democratic party were not enough, Eric Bauman has also made money as a “consultant” to the “Democratic Club Slate Mailer“.  Slate mailers are mailers sent to voters that sound like they are coming from some official organization, but in actuality they are put together by people trying to make a quick buck, and paid for by the candidates appearing on them.  Bauman made between $1K-10K in 2014.  It’s not clear who is actually behind the slate mailer, but the treasurer is Mark Gonzalez, a member of the LACDCC.  This particular slate mailer seems to have been put together mostly to push John Perez, who at the time was running for Controller.   Mark Gonzalez was a senior field rep for Perez.

Delegates to the 2017 California Convention will have a serious choice to make: elect as Chair someone who has seen the Democratic Party as a source of profit and who has shown little concern about how dirty the money he takes is, or elect an honest outsider who wants to thoroughly reform the Democratic party for all of us.

Jan 052017
 

Democrat Donkey

ACDCC Passes Strong Resolution Urging No Collaboration between Local Law Enforcement and Trump Administration

Last night, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee (ACDCC) swore in (ceremoniously, as it turned out) its new membership.  It wasn’t very different than its old one.  Six of our 33 elected members are new, but three of them had previously been alternate members.  In Assembly District 18, where we actually elected three new members, the three defeated incumbents will now be alternates.  The Committee’s Chair remains the same, as do the two secretaries.  The Vice Chair is now the Treasurer and the Treasurer has now been hired to be the professional accountant/treasurer.  We do have a new Vice Chair, who was elected after the outgoing Vice Chair made a surprise announcement at the meeting that he would not seek re-election.  Before members had a moment to digest these news, nominations for his position were closed and a vote had been called for the sole candidate.  Business as usual at the Democratic Party.

There were a few changes with respect to Assembly District Vice-Chairs.  The ACDCC is divided into five caucuses, one for each Assembly District that falls within Alameda County.  The vice chairs for AD 15, 20 and 25 remained the same, but AD 16 decided to replace the incumbent vice-chair, who had rarely been seen in the last three years, with her closest acolyte.  Neither were present at the meeting.  In AD 18, after a lot of behind-the-scenes drama and machinations, the incumbent Vice Chair was forced out, two activist members were sidelined and Assemblymember Rob Bonta‘s paid staffer and alternate member, was put in.  Once again, business as usual.

Less business as usual was the resolution we passed, unanimously, that urges local City Councils and the Board of Supervisors to declare “themselves to be Sanctuary Cities and refuse to honor any request by the Trump Administration to use any of their resources, including Police and Sheriff’s Deputies to participate in any arrests or internments mandated by the Trump Administration.”   This is a move that I wished we had done a long time before, given the Obama administration widespread use of local police power to make immigration-related arrests.  But I am thrilled that we passed this now.  Now, we need to work to make sure City Councils in Alameda County implement this resolution.

And while minor, there have been  changes.  Two of the new elected members, Guillermo Elenes and Pamela Price, are avowed civil rights activists that come to the Committee planning to push an agenda of progressive reform.  Newly elected Congressman Ro Khanna has named as his alternate former Marine and Bernie Sanders delegate Cullen Tiernan, who along with a few other alternates and associates are bringing the energy of the Bernie Sanders movement to the Committee.  Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who unsuccessfully ran for Assembly against the Republican incumbent in AD 16, has joined as an ex-officio member and her experience as an award winning Government teacher already proved useful in helping us shape the resolution described above.

Ultimately, it’s anyone’s guess whether the forces of change will defeat those of stagnation, a happy medium will be reached, or the whole thing will blow up.  I’m betting on the first.

 

Apr 192016
 

vote-for-me

Plus: Who Else to Vote for in AD 15, AD 18 & 25

Update: I was re-elected to the Committee. Thanks to everyone who voted for me.

Once again, I’m running for re-election to the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.  I’m running for one of the ten seats in AD 18.

I am an unapologetic bleeding heart liberal, committed to pushing the Democratic party towards adopting an agenda that includes the respect and promotion of all human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural.  I am fully committed to cleaning up the Democratic party from the corrupting influences of money and cronyism.

Currently, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee is suffering from a numbers of ills.  One of the main jobs of the  Committee is to give the Democratic endorsement to candidates for non-partisan local races.  Unfortunately, several Committee members are either paid campaign consultants themselves or have close relationships with such people – and they take advantage of their position in the Committee to lobby to get their clients the Democratic endorsement.  This has resulted in the Democratic endorsement being given to candidates who do not have particularly progressive ideas.  Indeed, the Committee has endorsed candidates that support the militarization of police,  the widening of the school-to-prison pipeline, mass surveillance and impunity for police brutality.   While as one of the few liberals in the Committee, my effect over the last four years has been limited, I have been able to stop the Democratic endorsement from going to at least some of the worst candidate – including one that wanted to raise the Chinese flag over San Leandro City Hall paying homage to a government that has imprisoned and disappeared countless critics, members of religious minorities and human rights defenders, while brutality occupying Tibet and other lands.

My other main reason to run for re-election is that I believe that if Bernie Sanders manages to win the nomination and then the presidency, he will need supporters working at all levels with the Democratic party in order to push his agenda forward.  If he doesn’t win, and instead decides to lead a revolution from the Senate, then the support of Democratic grass root activists is even more important.  But let me be clear: as a liberal Democrat I cannot support Hillary Clinton and her neo-liberal/neo-con agenda which imperils America and the world.

Over the last four years, I’ve written from time to time about my experiences as a Committee members, please read further if you want to know more about me and my candidacy.  Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions or comments.

In addition to me, I encourage you to vote for the following candidates:

Other candidates I support running for ACDCC in AD 18 (Oakland flats, Alameda & San Leandro – 10 seats available):

Pamela Price, a civil rights attorney

Mike Katz-Lacabe, my husband and a privacy rights advocate.

Guillermo Elenes, a housing rights organizer and staunch liberal

Marlon McWilson, an appointed incumbent and County Board of Education trustee

 

In AD 15 (Oakland Hills & North Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and Albany – 9 seats available) I recommend you vote for the following candidates.

Vincent Casalaina: Vincent is very progressive grassroots activist, he is with PDA and was an early Bernie supporter. Vincent is running in a progressive slate with Brett Badelle, Kate Harrison and Floyd Huen

Andy Kelley: Andy sometimes plays politics to his own detriment, but his heart is in the right place and he is also committed to a progressive agenda.

Len Raphael: Len is intelligent, thoughtful and has an insurgent streak. I think he would bring a much needed non-establishment perspective to the Committee.

Ces Rosales: Ces is a very progressive LGBT and feminist activist in Berkeley.  We don’t always back the same candidates (she’s a Hillary supporter), but I respect Ces’ independent streak.

In AD 25 (Newark & parts of Fremont – 3 seats available), I recommend you vote for

Raj Salwan: He has been an alternate for a number of years and is the most progressive candidate running in that district.

Relevant articles:

(Edited to add list of people I’m supporting and to add my stand on Hillary Clinton).

Feb 082016
 

Bernie-Sanders-3In recent weeks, I’ve been hearing from quite a few Democrats that they like Bernie Sanders and what he stands for but they’re not sure that he’s really a Democrat.  After all, Sanders is the longest serving independent in the US Congress.  It’s true that Sanders has always caucused with Democrats and serves in Senate committees accordingly, but is he truly a Democrat at heart?

A good person to ask that question might be John Burton, the fiery chairman of the California Democratic Party.  Back in 2011, Burton invited Bernie Sanders to be the keynote speaker at the California Democratic Convention.  He personally introduced him, to the tune of  “I won’t back down” by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, telling Democratic delegates that Bernie “is our kind of Senator and we are his kind of Democrats.”   Sanders electrified the audience of grassroots Democratic activists.  He still does.

When Bernie Sanders started speaking about the possibility of running for President back in 2013, he was uncertain as to whether he’d run as an independent or as a Democrat.  “I want to hear what progressives have to say about it” he told The Nation in March, 2014. “The bolder, more radical approach is obviously running outside of the two-party system. Do people believe at this particular point that there is the capability of starting a third-party movement? Or is that an idea that is simply not realistic at this particular moment in history? On the other hand, do people believe that operating in framework of the Democratic Party, getting involved in primaries state-by-state, building organization capability, rallying people, that for the moment at least that this is the better approach? Those are the options that I think progressives around the country are going to have to wrestle with. And that’s certainly something that I will be listening to.”

Bernie asked and progressive Democrats responded asking him to run as a Democrat.  Progressive Democrats of America immediately put together a petition asking Sanders to step forward and be “a champion of ‘the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party'”.  Over 20,000 Democrats signed the petition, committing ourselves to “knock on doors, donate, make phone calls, use social media, and do everything we can to elect Bernie Sanders the next President of the United States.”   Democratic activists followed up by hosting house parties across the country, organizing rallies and phone banking to try to build the basis for a Sanders run and thus convince him that he had a real shot at winning the Democratic primaries.  This efforts paid off when Bernie announced he would run in the Democratic primary.

Bernie Sanders’ run is already helping to transform the party. After years of declining Democratic registration, we are finally to see an uplift.  John Burton is right, Bernie Sanders is our kind of Senator and he will be our kind of President, a Democratic one.

 

 

 

Jan 272016
 

Democrat DonkeyIt’s no secret that the Democratic Party is in crisis.  Nationally, the pro-Wall Street policies of the establishment are being challenged by the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders.  In California, voters have expressed their displeasure to the growing corporatism of the Party by increasingly registering as “declined to state”.  And in Alameda County, voters have shown their lack of respect for the Party by increasingly dismissing Party endorsements.

While making systemic changes to the state and party structures is challenging, a good place to start is with county Democratic central committees.  Most candidates for national office start their political careers locally.  Part of the job of county Central Committees is to identify promising Democrats who can go on to champion Democratic causes at the state and national level.  Central Committee don’t just get to vote on local endorsements, but they are often automatic delegates to the state convention which gives them a voice on the political direction of the party, as well as on the endorsement of candidates to state and national office.

Unfortunately, many central committees are composed of professional campaign managers and treasurers, political staffers, candidates for local office and other people who have a financial stake on which local candidates get the Democratic endorsement, rather than on supporting candidates with actual progressive agendas.  In Alameda County, for example, the Executive Committee often recommends for endorsement candidates who have hired one of its members as their campaign manager – and candidates who are members of the Central Committee almost always get its nod.

But the composition of central committees can be easily turned around.  Members are elected during the party’s primaries and, at least in California, it’s very simple to run.  All you have to do is pick up papers at your county’s registrars, get the required number of signatures from voters in your district (20 in Alameda County) and then file the papers before the deadline, some time in late March or early April.  There are no filing costs for running for county central committee.

In California, county central committee districts coincide either with Assembly or Supervisor districts.  The number of members from each district is based on the number registered Democrats in that district, so districts with a lot of Democratic registered voters get greater representation than those with fewer.  In Alameda County, for example, there are ten committee members from AD 18 (which encompasses Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro) but only 7 from AD 20 (Castro Valley, Hayward, Union City & Sunol).

If you are a progressive Democrat – a Bernie Sanders Democrat – anywhere in the US, please consider running for County Central Committee this year. Take a look at your county’s registrar of voters website for information on deadlines and filing requirements, and then file!  Let’s make the Democratic party more progressive from the inside out!

If you are interested in running and have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me.  I’ve been a member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee for the last 5 years.

Note: if you are in Alameda County, you can pull papers to run for Central Committee Now. Just go to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters during office hours. The Registrar is located at the basement of the Courthouse in downtown Oakland.  After you pull the papers, you will need to get 20 signatures from registered Democrats in your district. You need to file your papers by March 11th. There is NO COST for pulling/filing the papers.

The new term for Central Committee members starts in January, 2017.

Information on running for Democratic central committee in Contra Costa County