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News and analysis on California politics
Jerry Brown takes back pardon after Times inquiry

Gov. Jerry Brown has withdrawn a pardon he issued Wednesday after learning from the Los Angeles Times that he was granting clemency to a man recently disciplined by financial regulators.

Glen Williams Carnes was among 105 individuals who received an executive pardon from the governor on Christmas Eve.

In his pardon, Brown stated the Carnes received an order from the Orange County Superior Court "evidencing ... he has lived an honest and upright life, exhibited good moral character and conducted himself as a law-abiding citizen."

Carnes' pardon was for a 1998 conviction of possession for sale of a controlled substance, for which he spent three years on probation in Orange County.

However, federal records show Carnes was disciplined by investment regulators in May 2013. He signed a consent settlement with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority that states he agreed to be barred from financial investment. The document alleged that he hid an outside business deal and provided...

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Jerry Brown's pardons 2014: 105 get Christmas gift

As is his custom at Christmas, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday released a list of 105 people, mostly minor drug offenders, who have received pardons from him.

The Christmas pardons are in addition to 63 announced at Easter; the governor has pardoned 510 people since resuming office in 2011. Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson combined granted 29 pardons over 20 years.

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FOR THE RECORD

Dec. 24, 1:16 p.m.: An earlier version of this article stated that Gov. Jerry Brown has issued 482 pardons since resuming office in 2011. He has issued 510 pardons in that period.

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It is a largely secretive process. The governor's office typically sends pardon applications to the Board of Parole Hearings for investigation, and the files are returned without a recommendation, leaving the final decision to Brown's staff. The governor's office refuses to release those files, contending that his office is shielded from the state public records law.

Typically, most of...

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State Sen. Ben Hueso avoids jail time in plea bargain

State Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) on Thursday entered a plea bargain in which prosecutors lowered charges of drunk driving to a lesser misdemeanor, allowing him to avoid any possibility of jail time.

Hueso was sentenced to three years informal probation and must complete a six-week alcohol education class in addition to paying $1,100 in fines, according to his attorney, Megan Virga.

"He has taken responsibility for his actions," Virga said.

He is the second state senator to avoid jail time over criminal charges in recent months.

On Oct. 31, then-Sen. Roderick Wright reported to jail to serve a 90 day sentence for lying about living in his Senate district but was released within two hours because of jail overcrowding.

Hueso, who was reelected last month, initially faced drunk driving charges that could have resulted in a penalty of $1,000 and six months in jail, but they were dismissed after Hueso agreed to plead no contest to a “wet reckless” driving charge that does not include jail...

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Sen. De Leon removes panel staffers who questioned his legislation

In yet another shakeup in the state Senate, new President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) has removed the top staff from a Senate committee that last session blocked one of his priority bills.

De Leon, who took over leadership of the Senate in October, has this week terminated Kellie Smith as chief consultant of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee. He also has removed Jacqueline Kinney as the panel’s principal consultant. The terminations were separate from the previous layoffs of 39 other staffers for budget reasons.

Smith and Kinney were replaced by two experts in climate change issues to reflect De Leon’s emphasis on that area, according to Dan Reeves, his chief of staff.

“He wanted the committee to have a greater focus on renewable energy and the green economy, and he felt like he needed to have a different set of resources to help the committee drive the agenda forward,” Reeves said.

Smith was replaced Monday by Jay Dickenson, formerly the assistant...

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Jerry Brown plans to target cost of retiree healthcare

Gov. Jerry Brown plans to address the growing cost of healthcare for retired state workers next month when he releases his new budget proposal, a spokesman for his finance department said Tuesday.

The statement came shortly after the state controller announced that the long-term financial burden of healthcare costs have jumped by an estimated $7.2 billion, reaching $71.8 billion more than has been set aside by state leaders.

"The price tag associated with providing healthcare to retired state workers has quietly grown to rival or even eclipse the funding gap associated with public pensions," Controller John Chiang said in a statement. "If we continue to do nothing, we will be sowing the seeds of a future crisis."

In recent years the governor and lawmakers have approved legislation chipping away at pension costs, but healthcare issues have been left unaddressed.

Unlike the state pension systems, which rely on substantial investments to cover payouts to retirees, there's no money set...

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Brulte, Dhillon to seek reelection as state GOP leaders

California GOP chairman Jim Brulte, widely credited with reviving the state Republican party’s fortunes, announced Monday that he would seek reelection to the post.

Brulte highlighted the party’s recent victories -- notably blocking Democrats from having super-majorities in the state Senate and Assembly -- as he announced he would seek another two-year term in a letter to the state GOP’s Board of Directors.

“We can build upon our successes this year,” he wrote. “Working together we showed what our party could achieve.  We need to build upon that success ... because our state, our counties and our cities are too important to leave to those who do not share our philosophy."

Vice chairman Harmeet Dhillon, who has served as the public face of the state party, said she would also seek reelection.

“What an honor it has been to serve this party, articulate conservative principles, walk precincts, represent our party in the media, and voter by voter help persuade the electorate that we are...

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