Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said Tuesday that the alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election was about far more than favoring one candidate over another. He said it was an effort to undermine the foundation of American democracy in order to prop up an authoritarian regime in Moscow.
“Now if you look at this as just a one-off intervention, you might be inclined to dismiss the greater significance of it, or if you listen to the president, you might be inclined to dismiss this as simply efforts to relitigate a lost election,” Schiff told several hundred people at UC Irvine. “But the significance is really far greater. Quite separate and apart from the desire of the Russians to help Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton was a more fundamental objective, and that was really to tear down at our democracy.”
Schiff is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating allegations of Russian intervention in the presidential election, including the leaking of hacked Democratic emails and contacts between Trump associates and Russians.
House Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told hundreds of local Republicans at a recent private fundraiser that congressional investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election are about Democrats trying to justify Hillary Clinton’s loss.
“The Democrats don’t want an investigation on Russia. They want an independent commission. Why do they want an independent commission? Because they want to continue the narrative that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump are best friends, and that’s the reason that he won, because Hillary Clinton would have never lost on her own; it had to be someone else’s fault,” Nunes told Republicans the day after he stepped away from leading the House investigation.
His remarks were recorded on video and provided to The Times.
The bill by Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) would shift much of the power over staff and spending authority away from the independent tax board and create a new inspector general to watch over its actions.
"What we're trying to do is make sure that the reform is transparent," Ridley-Thomas said. "That's what I think the moment demands."
A coalition of California businesses launched a new advertising campaign on Saturday to pressure lawmakers against enacting tighter policies on climate change and air pollution.
The campaign includes online videos and television advertising that warn of higher costs for business and residents. It arrives as Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are debating whether to extend the cap-and-trade program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gases, and how restrictive the system should be.
The first lawmaker being targeted is Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), accusing him of allowing "unelected state employees" to raise "hidden taxes" on gasoline and electricity because he voted last year for a tougher target to reduce emissions by 2030. Other lawmakers could face similar advertisements.
The official gathering of California Democrats lasted only three days, but the lingering debate and simmering tensions could keep going well into next year's elections.
On this week's California Politics Podcast episode, we look back at the line in the sand drawn at last week's California Democratic Party convention by some of the party's most passionate progressive activists -- including the blunt speech delivered by an influential labor union leader last weekend.
We also discuss big new developments this week on the topic that energized those Democratic activists: a single-payer healthcare system for California. On Monday, a fiscal analysis put a large price tag on legislation to enact that sweeping healthcare change.
An ambitious effort to close a widely used loophole that allows large donations from political parties to be funneled into California races was rejected on Friday.
The bill by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) would have made political party money donated to statewide and legislative candidates subject to the same contribution limits as individuals. Under the language of a voter-approved initiative, Proposition 34, money from political parties is exempt from those existing limits.
“It’s a money-laundering scheme that has completely duped voters,” Levine said last fall when he first promised to introduce the bill.
Veteran Democratic operative Bob Mulholland slammed infighting among California Democrats, and urged Kimberly Ellis, who came up short in a nasty party chair election, to work to unify the party.
“I … and others did not understand some of your supporters' … attacks on those of us who have spent decades or years building the Democrats in California as the most successful political Party in the country,” he wrote in an open letter to Ellis on Thursday.
California lawmakers Friday stalled measures meant to help report and track hate crimes across the state, proposals filed amid a wave of incidents reported after the 2016 presidential election.
The state Assembly Appropriations Committee shelved bills that would have created new hate-crime reporting requirements for police and a hotline under the attorney general's office for victims wishing to report an attack.
Of those bills, a proposal filed by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) initially sought to develop a state government database with the names of felons convicted of hate crimes related to race, religion and sexual orientation.