Posts Tagged ‘California Accountability Project’



Calbuzz Snubbed in GOP Debate; Payback Looms

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

This just in: Calbuzz was not chosen to be on the panel of reporters in the Great Debate between Republican candidates for governor Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. We’re shocked – shocked! -  outraged and distraught. Cold revenge is on the menu.

For now, the debate is scheduled for 2 pm Sunday, May 2 at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, with KQED’s John Myers as moderator and panelists Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle, Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune, Jack Chang of the Sacramento Bee, Michael Blood of the Associated Press and Santiago Lucero of Univision. A solid enough lineup except for, well, you know . . .

Now Poizner is tweaking Whitman by arguing that she’s trying to limit exposure, and the California Accountability Project, sourcing a KTVU-TV report, is suggesting eMeg is lying about who picked the time. According to Sam Rodriguez at Comcast, the actual start time is still being discussed – by the campaigns.

Not that it’ll make much difference. Comcast is going to make the coordinates available to any TV station that wants them and they can broadcast it whenever they want to; Comcast will air it live on its Hometown Network, where it will be replayed many times; the California Channel is scheduled to air it live, as will others. Whether it’s at 2 pm or 5 pm on a Sunday makes little difference. More people will see it in the clips and the re-broadcast than will see it live no matter when it airs.

Why? Because it’s a “debate” between Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman ferheavensakes!

Which is why, for the entertainment value alone, Calbuzz is rooting for Jerry Brown’s drive – with a petition campaign started about 5 pm Sunday – to get eMeg to agree to join him and Steve in a series of three-way debates. Now that could be fun to watch.

So far, Meg’s not budging. (And why should she, really?) Even though Brown had racked up 4,500 signatures in the first 24 hours. “We’re hoping eventually to get 100 signatures for every million Meg Whitman has spent on her campaign,” said Brown flack Sterling Clifford. “We have 1,400 to go.”

Press clips – rant of the week: When we launched Calbuzz a little over a year ago, our Department of Churning It Out and Doing It Daily wrote that our role models were “Boys on the Bus” Hall of Fame partners Jules Witcover and Jack Germond (as noted at the time, we had little choice but to view ourselves as “the fat man in the middle seat,” the title of one of Germond’s campaign memoirs).

So we were delighted to find an online version of a dead-trees-and-ink column by Witcover, bringing his famed analytic powers  to the task of dissecting, um, online journalism.

Taking as his point of departure the recent announcement that the Library of Congress intends to start archiving hundreds of million of Twitter tweets, Witcover thundered against the evils of modernity, weaving into his screed the disgraceful case of CBSNews.com fronting a blog post that contained a quickly discredited assertion that Solicitor General and possible Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is a lesbian:

The tweet, which seems too often to be an unedited burp from the mouth of a diner overfed with trivia, strikes me as a poor cousin of the blog, that unlimited and too often also unedited vomiting of opinion, diatribe, rumor or just plain bigotry and hate.

The magazine Wired quoted one Matt Raymond, identified as the Library of Congress’ blogger, saying: “I’m no Ph.D., but it boggles my mind to think what we might be able to learn about ourselves and the world around us from this wealth of data.” One also can only wonder, however, what we might be able to learn from more fully expressed ideas, particularly when submitted to responsible, professional editing…

When rumor, prospective slander, libel or just plain inaccuracy gets through, the credibility of all journalism suffers.

We have no argument with our hero on that point. Despite Witcover’s lament that it was otherwise, however, the plain fact is that in the Wild West world of new media, it’s the content consumer who’s running the show, not the content provider. So the bottom line is: let the buyer beware, while the market sorts it all out.

Three reasons we love newspapers: Margot Roosevelt’s report detailing the big bucks efforts of oil giants Valero, Tesoro and Occidental Petroleum to qualify an initiative rolling back AB 32;  fellow LATimeser George Skelton’s takedown of PG&E over Proposition 16, its outrageously phony rip-off measure that would enshrine a monopoly for the utility under the guise of the “taxpayer’s right to vote act”;  the SacBee’s Kevin Yamamura’s smart takeout on eMeg Whitman’s proposal to eliminate the capital gains tax, likely to become a campaign issue.

Three reasons we love the Internets: The Oracle of Cruickshank’s trenchant, from-the-left post-game analysis of the Democratic convention over at Calitics;  Steve Malanga’s from-the-right indictment of the role of public employee unions in California’s budget mess, at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal;  Danielle Crittendon’s ordinary folks look at what a shameful dog-and-pony wheeze Sarah Palin performs for big bucks in the hinterlands

We wish we’d said that: Better late than never kudos to Chronicler Debra Saunders for a clear-eyed look at the dust-up at San Jose’s Mt. Pleasant High School over Steve Poizner’s memoir of the year he spent teaching there.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Jamie Jungers and Bombshell McGree, together again.

Why Brown Won’t Unload on eMeg at Dem Convo

Friday, April 16th, 2010

You could argue that Jerry Brown, who is going to be his party’s nominee for governor, ought to accept the notion that Meg Whitman is going to be the Republican nominee and should begin campaigning against her at the California Democratic Party convention this weekend in LA.

The general election is already under way, says this argument, posited mostly by progressive Democrats, and Brown is just wasting time, letting Whitman get away with murder as she gains positive name ID using corporate CEO as a brand. Given the scandal in the banking industry, Wall Street’s misadventures and the collapse of the American economy, who would ever have thought that a candidate could gain traction as a corporate bigwig?

Whitman’s succeeded so far because no one is attacking her from the left (except Level the Playing Field and the California Accountability Project, neither of which has put their anti-Meg slams into serious TV). eMeg’s GOP opponent, Steve Poizner, attacks Whitman from the right – which actually helps her look somewhat moderate in the general election against Brown.

So with all the news organizations gathered in LA for the Democratic convention, why not use the opportunity to get some free media and launch an all-out attack against eMeg? Frame it around three bullet points:

1) She’s a corporate fat cat who’s out of touch with real people and in cahoots with the greedy, bloodsucking parasites on Wall Street who have wrecked our economy.

2) She’d undo California’s progressive laws seeking to reverse global warming and set polar bears out on ice floes.

3) She’d build more prisons at the expense of schools – how’s that supposed to help California grow jobs and become more competitive in the modern economy?

Yes, Brown could fall prey to the siren song of a full-time, 24-7, balls-to-the-wall general election starting right now. And be broke by Labor Day.

Further, you might ask, why would he want to poke a stick at Whitman right now? Let sleeping billionaires lie seems to make more sense. Why do anything to encourage Whitman to start spending any of her unlimited funds on Brown any earlier than it’s gonna happen anyway?

Which is why, when Brown speaks Saturday, he’s likely to rally the Democratic base and speak harshly in general about Republicans, but not too personally about Whitman. There will be some obvious references: you can’t do a populist jeremiad without bellowing about the bankers on Wall Street and their black-hearted corporate cronies. But don’t expect too much about Goldman Sachs, eBay stock spinning and investments in Skype.

As one strategist close to the Brown campaign told Calbuzz: “It would be a waste of opposition research to roll it out now.”

Sure, we’d love to see the fireworks. But then again, we don’t have to maintain the fire.

That’s the story of the Hurricane: Once again, Carly Fiorina is shocked – shocked! – to learn of alleged unsavory, perhaps illegal, conduct by employees under her watch as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. As all good Calbuzzers know, Hurricane Carly has already professed to know nothin’ about nothin’ to do with HP’s shipments to Iran of hundreds of millions of dollars of products, through a third party company, during her tenure.

Now comes the Wall Street Journal (subscription) to report that the SEC and the U.S. Justice Department have joined the governments of Russia and Germany in investigating allegations that HP went to the wallet for $11 million in bribes to win a lucrative contract with the Russian prosecutor general’s office, while Fiorina was in charge. So, for the second time, iCarly is rolling out her see-no-evil, hear-no-evil act:

“Carly has no knowledge of these alleged actions,” said her spokeswoman, Amy Thoma. “When she served as the CEO of HP if she had been aware of any illegal or inappropriate behavior by any employee she would have taken action immediately to terminate the parties involved.”

Which leaves four possibilities:

1) Double agents in the German and Russian governments, joined by moles in the SEC and DOJ, have all been duped by demon sheep in the Chuck DeVore for Senate campaign into leaking word of a baseless, phony investigation.

2) Fiorina, who never stops boasting of what a swell job she did as HP CEO, was simply ignorant of what was going on in her own company.

3) The whole messy business has slipped her mind.

4) She’s lying.

Calbuzz bets: 2) or 4).

eMeg Offshore Tax Dodge? Why’s Poiz Waiting?

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

By pledging to release his income taxes for public inspection, Steve Poizner has set a trap for Meg Whitman: If she doesn’t release them, you gotta ask, “What’s she hiding?” And if she does, we can expect a treasure trove of damned interesting reading.

To wit: The question raised by the California Accountability Project – a wholly owned, million-dollar subsidiary of the Democratic Governors Association – “Is Meg Whitman still shifting her millions into offshore tax havens to avoid having to pay her fair share?”

In a tidy op research package — tied up in a bow and delivered as a “Memo to Reporters: Meg Whitman’s Bermuda and Cayman Islands Tax Shelters; Why She Must Release Her Taxes”‏ — Nick Velasquez of the CAP showed what’s needed to take a good whack at Meg is already in the public domain.

“According to documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service, in 2007 Meg Whitman’s charitable foundation invested $4 million offshore, in Hedge Funds based in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands,” Velasquez wrote. Then he proceeded to provide citations for every charge in the missive, including this one. (in pdf).

Archipelago Holdings, Mason Capital, TPG-Axon Partners – all in Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, and all with a kind of, um, fishy odor, sitting there in the Griffith R. Harsh IV and Margaret C. Whitman Charitable Foundation – per her foundation’s 2007 and 2008 tax returns, according to our old friend Ken McLaughlin of the Mercury News.

Is eMeg one of those sneaky billionaires who’s sheltering income in offshore investments? Is she trying to avoid paying taxes that most citizens have to pay? Can we trust her to manage California’s budget if she won’t show us how she spend her own money?

(Response from Bounds or Pompei goes here). (Hey, it’s midnight, I’m going to bed – Ed.)

For eMeg, these kinds of nagging questions can be cumulatively damaging if they go unanswered. As a practical matter, ordinary folks fork over their tax returns every time they apply for a mortgage or car loan or money for their kid’s college, so sympathizing with the sanctity of a rich person’s demand for privacy about their returns is a bit of a stretch for most voters.

Which is why you can almost hear the doomsday baritone in the Poizner ad:

“What does Meg Whitman have to hide?”

It’s time for your close-up, Commish: In an interview with the AP’s Juliet Williams, Poizner took issue with anonymous sources recently quoted by the Contra Costa Times (and deconstructed by us) to the effect that The Commish intended to wait until May to start advertising on TV.

Writing that Poizner now is “set to launch an aggressive television advertising campaign to counter months of advertising by billionaire rival Meg Whitman,” Williams reported that:

Poizner acknowledged that Whitman has had free rein to define herself to voters in part because of his failure to launch a paid media campaign but he said that would soon end.

Whitman has given her campaign $39 million so far and has been spending at an unprecedented pace. Poizner, a multimillionaire who developed GPS chips for cell phones, said Tuesday that he will add to the $19 million he already has given his campaign.

“We’re going to spend it all,” he said. “I mean, it’s not like I’m trying to keep my resources for the general (election) or something. We’re going to spend what it takes.”

It isn’t clear from his comments how soon “soon” might be, however. We hear nothing is imminent in terms of advertising, and the campaign may in fact be dark for several weeks. Which all right-thinking people agree would be a miscalculation.

Job one for Team Poizner right now is to reassure his supporters, as well the media and political  professionals, that he’s in the race for real. Nothing would make that point more clearly or swiftly than putting a couple million dollars on the air right here, right now.

Hoping that eMeg takes a few hits from the Jerry Brown IE’s is wishful thinking – we hear there’s no there there yet, cashbox-wise – and while eMeg may take a few love taps from editorial writers over the tax disclosure issue, what will be gained by waiting, if the game plan is to “spend it all?” Inquiring minds want to know.

(Memo to Poizner Accounting: Kindly remember to pay that Calbuzz ad invoice before spending it all.)