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675 posts
  • California Democrats
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The decision by a politically powerful labor group to openly campaign against an embattled Los Angeles-area lawmaker drew a sharp rebuke on Friday from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

The Lakewood Democrat lashed out hours after the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California filed paperwork for a political action committee to defeat Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). Garcia, who’s seeking her fourth term, took an unpaid leave of absence in February following allegations of sexual misconduct. She has denied the reports and an Assembly investigation remains underway.

Rendon didn’t criticize the labor group by name, insisting instead that the decision was driven by oil and gas industry interests.

"This is a thinly veiled attempt by Big Oil and polluters to intimidate me and my members. It is an affront to my speakership,” Rendon said in a statement. “We are proud of the work that the Assembly has done to increase jobs and wages while defending our environment. We will vigorously defend the members of our caucus from any ill-advised political attack."

A statement from the labor group, which sparred with Garcia last year on her effort to link new climate change policies with a crackdown on air pollution, said it had decided to “reverse” past support for her.

“The Trades have thousands of hard working members in Garcia’s district, and we look forward to lifting up another Democrat in the 58th Assembly to better represent them and their families,” said the statement.

The political action committee’s campaign finance filing on Friday listed nonmonetary “in kind” contributions from Erin Lehane, a public affairs consultant aligned with the building labor group. Lehane said she had begun “researching” Garcia in November. In January, a former legislative staffer accused her of groping him in 2014.

Lehane, who identified herself as a spokesperson for the labor group’s political action committee, said on Friday that she believed Garcia’s “hypocrisy threatened a movement that will dictate how much harassment and abuse my daughter will face in her work life.”

Garcia, who has been an outspoken advocate for women in the #MeToo movement, has complained that her political opponents helped fan the flames of the accusations. Through a campaign consultant, she declined to comment on Friday.

Rendon’s critique came on the heels of a full-page ad in The Times on Friday, partly paid for by the Trades Council, that criticized “well-funded ivory tower elites” who push proposals that hurt the oil and gas industry.

“We are the real jobs that fuel the real California economy,” read the advertisement.

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Times journalists at the 2017 Festival of Books
Times journalists at the 2017 Festival of Books

For anyone interested in politics, this weekend’s L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC will be the place for you.

It’s a great event — the biggest book festival in the country and a showcase for ideas and literature in California.

Members of the Times’ California politics team and the Washington bureau will be there in force. We’ll talk about the contest for governor and the midterm elections on Sunday at 1:20 p.m. There also are a number of panels on the Trump administration and politics, moderated by Times journalists.

Here’s the full schedule. To see where we’ll be, filter the list by Politics & History. Also, don’t miss the Ask a Reporter booth on campus.

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An attorney representing Gavin Newsom’s campaign for governor is demanding that California television stations cease airing an ad by an independent political committee supporting his Democratic rival Antonio Villaraigosa.

Attorney Thomas A. Willis, in a letter to the stations, said the ad is “false and misleading and violates California law” because it uses snippets of video footage from Villaraigosa’s own campaign ads. Willis called that illegal coordination between the campaign and PAC.

“Under California law, advertisements made by entities other than a candidate are presumed to be ‘coordinated’ — and thus not independent expenditures —  when the advertisement replicates, reproduces or disseminates substantial parts of a communication, including video footage, created and paid for by the candidate,” the letter states.

Armand Werden, a 29-year-old community college student who works the taps at Dust Bowl Brewery in Turlock, said the state is on the upswing.
Armand Werden, a 29-year-old community college student who works the taps at Dust Bowl Brewery in Turlock, said the state is on the upswing. (Phil Willon / Los Angeles Times)

As California chooses a new governor — one of just a handful in the last 40 years not named Jerry Brown — the state seems to be enjoying something unusual in these tumultuous political times: a feeling of relative contentment.

Not to say things are perfect.

Still, more than 100 random interviews conducted over the length and breadth of the state — from Redding in the north to Santee in the south, from the Pacific coastline to the edge of the Sierra Nevada — found most saying things are looking up, at least so far as California’s direction is concerned.

  • California Legislature
Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)
Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Earlier this week, state senators killed legislation that would have boosted the number of homes that could be built near transit stops across Los Angeles and the rest of the California.

The measure, SB 827, attracted national attention because it aimed to address both California’s housing shortage and environmental goals. But SB 827’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), failed to garner enough support from his colleagues at the bill’s initial committee hearing. 

On this episode of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Pod, we break down why the bill failed and explain what might come next.  

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  • Governor's race
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with members of the public following a debate at USC in January.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with members of the public following a debate at USC in January. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The Sierra Club endorsed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in the race for California governor, with officials in the established environmental group praising the Democrat’s record on climate change and clean energy.

"He has a proven record for leading on environmental protection, public health and clean energy,” Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California, said in a statement released by the Newsom campaign. “He understands that we are feeling the effects of climate change and that California must reduce carbon emissions and reach 100% renewable energy to achieve our climate goals.”

Phillips said the Sierra Club’s extensive network of volunteers will campaign for Newsom as the June 5 primary approaches. Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune also praised the Democrat, saying he will protect California from “Donald Trump's attacks on our clean air and water.”

For much of last year, consultants and campaign managers for some of California’s most vulnerable Republican incumbents maintained a bullish tone on the prospect that the GOP would hold the House in this year’s midterms.

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  • State government
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The awkward dance between Gov. Jerry Brown and the federal government over the National Guard jerked back toward discord on Thursday, when Trump said he would refuse to pay for a new deployment of troops — just hours after his administration said otherwise.

And a few hours later, California officials said they had received written confirmation from the Pentagon that the mission would indeed be funded.

Trump had earlier called Brown’s decision to approve 400 troops for a mission focused on combating transnational crime and drug smuggling a “charade” in a tweet. “We need border security and action, not words!” the president wrote.

  • California Legislature
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

The California Assembly voted Thursday to add gay “conversion therapy” to the state’s list of deceptive business practices, following a debate that focused on the personal experiences of several lawmakers and hinted at potential lawsuits to come.

“It is harmful and it is unnecessary,” Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell), the bill’s author and one of the Legislature’s most vocal LGBTQ members, said of the practice.

Low, who told Assembly members that he explored conversion therapy as a teenager and suffered depression over his sexual orientation, insisted that the bill would be limited to efforts that involve the exchange of money.