Newsletter: Essential Politics: How Bill Clinton changed the rules of speech-making for cash


I’m Christina Bellantoni. This is Essential Politics, and we start off the week with an investigation.

At a time when Hillary Clinton’s speeches to private groups are likely to face more scrutiny, we took a look at how Bill Clinton changed the rules of political speech-making for cash. Evan Halper reports the former president would push not just corporate hosts but also nonprofits and universities to pay fees well beyond what they were accustomed to. His aides would turn what had been a freewheeling format into tightly scripted events where every question from the audience was screened, Halper writes.

He dissected contracts and internal emails connected to half a dozen speeches Clinton gave in the Bay Area soon after departing the White House for a glimpse into the unusual demands and outsize expense reports associated with bringing him to town.


In one case Clinton racked up a nearly $1,400 bill for a day’s worth of phone calls from San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel and a $700 dinner for two. The documents outline even more detail.


California Gov. Jerry Brown has made a name for himself with his missionary-like zeal for battling global warming. But he also knows oil companies have been powerful players in Sacramento, so his administration has been meeting with industry representatives in hopes of reaching a consensus on extending California’s climate programs. The conversations have touched on the cap-and-trade program, which Brown is counting on to help fund the bullet train, and the low-carbon fuel standard, a regulation that the oil industry has targeted.



Vice President Joe Biden, who knows a thing or two about the U.S. Senate, is expected to endorse Atty. General Kamala Harris in California’s Senate race, Phil Willon scoops. What makes it intriguing is that this is all a Democratic family affair given Harris and her rival Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange are Democrats.


California’s June 7 primary results will be formally certified this week, an end to what’s been a rocky few weeks for voters and elections officials alike.

John Myers examines the myriad problems and complaints that arose as votes were being cast and counted. Much of the confusion seems rooted in the fact the state’s primary rules -- anyone can vote for any candidate -- are completely different from those imposed by the major political parties in the presidential primary. In all, more than 8.5 million votes were counted.

Cathleen Decker tackled a similar topic in her Sunday column, explaining why it took so long for California to count the votes, and why it might improve by 2020.


Since a judge issuing a domestic violence restraining order against Assemblyman Roger Hernandez in response to charges from his wife that he severely beat her, the Democrat has suffered a dramatic political erosion. He has been stripped of his Assembly committee assignments and at least six members of the Legislature, including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, have dropped their endorsements of his campaign for Congress. Now a group of Democratic political operatives is actively trying to sink his effort to unseat nine-term Rep. Grace Napolitano this fall, Javier Panzar reports.



After Bernie Sanders fell short in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, the Vermont senator turned his attention to the party’s platform. In recent elections, hammering out the principles and proposals in the platform has been a relatively sedate process, but Sanders turned it into a raucous referendum on liberal ideas he pushed during the primary. The final draft, which is being sent to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this month, includes calls for a $15-per-hour federal minimum wage, a price on greenhouse gas emissions and expanding Social Security, Chris Megerian reports from Orlando.

Megerian and Mark Z. Barabak go inside the party to explain insiders’ readiness for Sanders to endorse Clinton.

Sanders also announced Monday that he will join Clinton at an event in New Hampshire on Tuesday. 


Much like the man they hope to nominate for the presidency, many of Sanders’ delegates from California are recent converts to the Democratic Party, according to a Times analysis of the state’s delegation headed to Cleveland at the end of the month.

Seema Mehta and Maloy Moore report that 1 out of 3 either switched parties or newly registered as Democrats to support the insurgent at the Democratic National Convention. In comparison, Clinton’s roster reads like a who’s who of Democratic politics.

For the latest news from the trail, keep an eye on Trail Guide and follow @latimespolitics.



The National Rifle Assn.’s Wayne LaPierre created a stir after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., when he said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The tragedy last week in Dallas, which claimed the lives of five police officers and injured several other people, disproves that theory, writes George Skelton in his Monday column. The killings came just days after Brown signed a package of bills to tighten the state’s already-tough gun control laws. In November, voters will have the chance to decide on a proposition backed by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom that would strengthen those laws even more, Skelton says.


This week’s episode of the California Politics Podcast explores what might happen here in the Golden State after last week’s tragic events across the country. John Myers also leads a discussion on the governor’s efforts to extend the state’s climate change law and the final takeaways from the June 7 statewide primary.


-- After cutting short a series of meetings in Spain following the NATO summit, President Obama on Sunday urged Americans on all sides of the Black Lives Matter debate to “listen to each other” and not undercut the cause of reform through violence or careless talk. Mike Memoli reports that the president tried to comfort and calm from a distance as he headed home early.

-- Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach), who is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Al Muratsuchi in his coastal Los Angeles County district, is being accused of illegally coordinating his campaign with an independent expenditure campaign that has spent six figures supporting him so far. Muratsuchi’s camp says they’ve filed an official complaint with state’s the Fair Political Practices Commission.

-- Brown and Newsom were out of state on vacation, so state Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) was acting governor last week. Once he was imbued with the powers of the executive branch, he did something probably every Angeleno would if they had the chance: He declared July 8, 2016, “Vin Scully Day” in California.

-- The veepstakes game is going in earnest. Here are the top picks for both Clinton and Donald Trump.

-- Former Facebook President Sean Parker has put another $1.25 million into the campaign for Proposition 64, the initiative to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California, bringing his total contributions so far to $2.5 million.

-- House Democrats spent more than two hours demanding the U.S. House consider a bill to expand background checks sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena). Members were supposed to be debating the rules for changing a bill to fund opioid addiction treatment, but instead, dozens of members asked over and over to bring up the bill during Democrats’ allotted time.

-- Former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, on Thursday endorsed Sanchez for U.S. Senate. He praised her work on behalf of people with mental illness.

-- Who will win the November election? Give our Electoral College map a spin.


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