The California Democratic Party has agreed to pay $3,500 in fines for mishandling a pair of six-figure contributions, but state investigators stopped short of accusing party officials of laundering donations from the oil industry to the 2014 reelection effort of Gov. Jerry Brown.
The findings released Monday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission grew out of a complaint by the activist group Consumer Watchdog in September that alleged hundreds of thousands of dollars were given by energy companies to the state party, which shortly afterward made large contributions to the Brown campaign.
The commission's enforcement chief on Monday issued a warning letter to Brown and his campaign, saying it had failed to deposit $1,318,316 into the designated campaign bank account, and instead deposited the funds into the campaign savings account.
A Capitol gathering of Planned Parenthood supporters on Monday had many of the same traits as the January Women's March and other rallies of the Trump era: pink T-shirts and so-called pussy hats, with frequent jeers for the president and the GOP-majority Congress.
But behind the familiar feel was a subtle shift in lobbying by Planned Parenthood of California. After months of warning of the existential threat of potential federal defunding, the healthcare organization has trained its focus on another threat: low reimbursements from the state for seeing Medi-Cal patients.
"The message today is that Medi-Cal reimbursement rates are so low that they threaten our ability to keep our health centers open," said Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood of California. "It would be a tragedy if we stopped Trump but allowed low rates to close our health centers one by one by one."
Sam Altman, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, is considering a run for governor.
Altman, 32, is the president of Y Combinator, a start-up technology incubator that has invested in companies such as Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe. When he was 19, he co-founded a social media app that later sold for $43 million.
"As I've said before, I am actively seeking out California governor candidates, because I think we desperately need to address the cost of living, especially housing and broader economic inequality in this state,” Altman said in a statement. “Some people I've talked to have urged me to run. I of course love California, but that would be a huge decision, and one I'd have to really think about. I really love my current job — I honestly think it's one of the best jobs in the tech world."
State Controller Betty T. Yee on Monday proposed new rules aimed at preventing conflicts of interest and other ethical lapses by members of California’s tax board while it awaits the results of investigations by the state Department of Justice and others into allegations of mismanagement.
Gov. Jerry Brown last month stripped the state Board of Equalization of hiring and contracting powers and asked Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to investigate allegations that board members improperly transferred and used board employees for political purposes.
In the meantime, Yee, who is an ex officio member of the board, proposed a new board governance policy that set goals requiring the board to act ethically, openly and with accountability.
Lawmakers will dig deep this week into Gov. Jerry Brown's new state budget and are likely to demand changes before the final version reaches his desk next month.
On this week's California Politics Podcast, we take a closer look at the governor's revised budget that was submitted to the Legislature on Thursday -- a $183.4-billion spending plan that makes a few concessions thanks to recalculated tax revenue predictions. Still, Democrats are likely to balk at a few health and human services issues, most notably how to use tobacco tax revenue imposed by voters in fall through Proposition 56.
We also discuss the tough political road ahead for Republicans in the state's congressional delegation as they come under fire for their recent vote to roll back provisions of the Affordable Care Act. That single event could be the centerpiece of congressional and statewide campaigns in California next year.
Gov. Jerry Brown said in a national TV interview on Saturday that President Trump was able to tap populist anger on the way to victory last fall, but dismissed his ability to do anything with it after taking office.
"He didn't have the answer, and he's demonstrated he doesn't have the answer," Brown said in a CNN interview with political analyst David Axelrod.
The governor said Hillary Clinton faced daunting odds, as voters too easily saw her candidacy as a third term of former President Obama's policies. And in the wide-ranging conversation, he urged the Democratic Party to embrace the needs of working-class Americans.
Democratic attorney Bryan Caforio is gunning for a rematch with North Los Angeles County Rep. Steve Knight in 2018 after losing an expensive and high-profile race against the Republican last year.
Knight and his Antelope Valley seat were seen as vulnerable by political consultants in 2016 as voter registration in the once solidly Republican district tilted in favor of Democrats.
But the GOP incumbent held on to his seat even as $5.2 million in outside spending poured into the race. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan and President Obama both got involved in the race, which was seen as a toss-up going into election day. In the end, Knight beat Caforio, 53%-47%.
California's housing affordability crisis is driven by a shortage of new home construction.
For the last two years, Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers have introduced legislation to make it easier for developers to build. But for even longer than that, the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, the labor group representing construction workers, has pushed for higher pay in homebuilding. The union also has used its considerable sway at the Capitol to influence a key housing cost study and target state bureaucrats and academics it believes have opposed higher pay standards.
The union's opposition was one of the main reasons Brown's housing plan failed last year, and its lack of support for similar pending bills looms over the current housing debate.