When Congressman Darrell Issa announced his retirement on January 10, speculation began over what would become of his million-plus dollar campaign war chest.
In early March, nearly $180,000 in refunds were made to donors–including the Koch Brothers–who earmarked contributions for his 2018 general election campaign. Republican party organizations in San Diego and Orange counties received $5,000 each, and $2000 went to his endorsed candidate in the 49th Congressional District, Diane Harkey.
Now we know what recipient Issa has in mind for the rest of the money: himself.
A law firm representing the Congressman has asked the Federal Elections Commission for an advisory opinion on a plan to transfer funds from the Darrell Issa for Congress committee to a shuttered campaign organization created back in the 1990s to support a run for the Senate.
The Darrell Issa for United States Senate Committee ceased to operate in 1998, leaving a $9.5 million dollar loan from the candidate unpaid. A letter to FEC proposes to revive that committee, allowing it to receive leftover funds from his House campaign organization so it can pay a portion of the money back to Issa.
Based on my reading of the supporting precedents, I think it’s probably legit. Who knows? Even though he’s supposed to be wealthy Issa might need money, since he appears to be having trouble landing a job.
Bloomberg News and other financial media outlets are saying Rep. Issa’s name is on a short list to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. An announcement from the White House is expected on June 22, according to Mick Mulvaney, the agency’s interim leader. Presently it appears as though J. Mark McWatters, a credit union regulator, and former congressional staffer will get the nod.
Whoever gets the job would inherit an agency that has worn a bulls-eye since Trump’s election. Mulvaney, a former congressman who frequently blasted the agency when he was in Congress, has cut spending, closed investigations into companies and reorganized staff. The changes have roiled a watchdog that had been a scourge of the financial industry under former President Barack Obama.
UPDATE: Issa says it ain’t so.
From the Hill:
Issa, who is retiring after this year, told The Hill that he’s not currently speaking with the White House about the position and “have not been contacted as currently in line for it.”
“I think it’s a wonderful story but I’m not currently having discussions with the White House on it,” Issa said.
The former House Oversight Committee chairman declined to say whether he’s discussed the position with Trump before but said he would consider taking a role in the Trump administration.
On the other hand, the President has been known to surprise people with job announcements.
The latest California billionaire vanity political project, a proposal sponsored by venture capitalist Tim Draper to split the state into three parts, has qualified for the November ballot.
From the Los Angeles Times:
In the initiative’s introductory passage, Draper argues that “vast parts of California are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically.”
The proposal aims to invoke Article IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, the provision guiding how an existing state can be divided into new states. Draper’s plan calls for three new entities — Northern California, California and Southern California — which would roughly divide the population of the existing state into thirds.
Northern California would consist of 40 counties stretching from Oregon south to Santa Cruz County, then east to Merced and Mariposa counties. Southern California would begin with Madera County in the Central Valley and then wind its way along the existing state’s eastern and southern spine, comprising 12 counties and ultimately curving up the Pacific coast to grab San Diego and Orange counties.
There will be legal challenges prior to the election. Retiring Gov. Jerry Brown has promised to use his war chest and political capital to oppose the measure. And then there’s the question of adding four more (likely Democratic) U.S. Senators to the mix.
It. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.
From the Mercury News:
The effort faces strong headwinds. A poll conducted in April found that only 17 percent of registered California voters favored the proposal, while 72 percent opposed it.
Even if approved by state voters, splitting up the state still would require approval from Congress — no easy thing in a sharply divided country. Voters approved breaking California into two states in 1859, but Congress never acted on that request.
Locally, there’s plenty of billionaire bullshit going around.
Priorities, people! The number of homeless people in San Diego is astonishing.
What kind of people think real solutions for this issue can just be kicked down the road? The “market will solve everything” crowd, that’s who.
I’m thinking we’re going to have to establish some homeless service centers in La Jolla and other wealthy environs to get anything done.
The data collected by volunteers working for the Regional Task Force on the Homeless for this year’s census turned out to be faulty. This ‘mistake’ was fortuitous for the local politicos lined up behind expanding the convention center.
As Frank Gormlie at the OB Rag observed:
…And as it turned out, fortunately for them, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, County Supervisor Ron Roberts and City Councilman Chris Ward all held their pressers and got to announce a 6% drop in homelessness, compared to last year. Faulconer got to glorify the fact that now 312 fewer people were counted living in vehicles in the city of San Diego. “What these numbers show is that our new homeless programs are working,” said Faulconer.
There was just one problem. The numbers were wrong. And off – and actually higher. The count was funky – it left out hundreds of people living in RVs, and those enrolled in programs at the San Diego Rescue Mission, as Lisa Halverstadt at Voice of San Diego wrote on May 31, 2018.
People living in RVs and in programs have been of late included in the point-in-time. This year they weren’t.
On Wednesday, a City Council committee wisely decided not to impede a $900 million housing bond measure funded by a property tax increase to facilitate building low and moderate-income housing.
The San Diego Housing Federation, an affordable housing advocacy group, is behind the measure. A Voice of San Diego article from earlier this year says supporters “believe the measure could house about 2,500 of the city’s most vulnerable homeless residents plus provide another 5,000 units for low-income families, veterans, disabled people and seniors on the brink of homelessness.”
There is polling suggesting that 70% of the city’s voters would approve of such a measure.
Some of the tourism industry crowd isn’t so sure about that number. They believe the idea of having a bond measure on the November ballot next to a hotel-tax increase funding convention center expansion (and other projects, including homeless services–but not housing) will cause both proposals to fail.
VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt broke the news on Wednesday about a push to get the housing bond delayed until 2020.
“There are people who care a lot about seeing the Convention Center measure move forward who think if there are too many things on the ballot about housing they would all go down,” said Stephen Russell of the San Diego Housing Federation…
…The Housing Federation opted to let the City Council decide whether to place the measure on the ballot. While affordable housing advocates have cheered the proposal, prominent politicians haven’t championed the effort through the process.
The business and labor coalition behind the tourism tax measure, meanwhile, is gathering signatures and has benefited from substantial support from power-brokers, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Their hotel-tax increase would raise an estimated $6.4 billion over 42 years, including $147 million for yet-to-be-detailed homelessness programs in its first five years.
The hotel tax increase is being packaged as a Citizen’s Initiative in the hope the court ruling saying such measures only require 51% for passage is not overturned.
On Tuesday both the San Diego City Council and Board of Port Commissioners voted to support of a three-party settlement agreement to secure long-term control of the land needed to expand and modernize the San Diego Convention Center.
The City of San Diego could have purchased the land for $12 million a few years back but failed to do so.
Here’s a snip from the City’s press release announcing the deal:
The settlement agreement between the City, Port of San Diego and Fifth Avenue Landing LLC (FAL), which has long held a lease on the property needed for the next phase of Convention Center expansion, calls for two alternatives to proceed. The scenarios are based on whether voters approve a citizens’ initiative to fund the expansion that is planned for the November ballot.
If the citizens’ initiative passes:
- The Port will purchase the existing leasehold from FAL for approximately $33 million (Ahead of the fall election, the Port will make an initial non-refundable payment of approximately $5 million toward that amount)
- The City will purchase a new leasehold from the Port with an 18-year extension through 2042 – with the ability to extend for a full 66 years if Convention Center expansion construction timelines are met – for a price of $28 million, funded with revenue from the citizens’ initiative
- These transactions will be made in three concurrent installments over the course of 2019
If the citizens’ initiative does not pass:
- The City does not make the $28 million payment to the Port, and the Port does not purchase the leasehold from FAL
- The City reimburses the Port for its approximately $5 million down payment to FAL, paid with money set aside in the City’s public liability fund for resolving litigation
- FAL can continue to seek Port approval of a hotel project at the site
City Councilman David Alvarez responded with a press release condemning the deal:
“This is simply another bad real estate deal. Regardless of whether a convention center expansion happens, taxpayers are on the hook for over $5 million.”
“Additionally, I am concerned about the legality of using taxpayer money to silence a “no” campaign for an initiative supported by special interests. My constituents elected me to spend taxpayer money on neighborhood priorities, not on priorities of interest groups.”
We know Carl DeMaio and his crowd will oppose both measures. If the rest of the “market first” crowd can’t see their way through to expend some political capital in support of actually building housing their employees can afford to live in, then they can take their Convention Center expansion and shove it.
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