Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Should the FPPC Regulate Tweeters, Facebookers?

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

By Steve Maviglio
Special to Calbuzz

In the Age of the Internet, when campaigns, advocates, consultants and engaged citizens are using all forms of social media — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Gmail Buzz, etc. — to communicate about politics, the Fair Political Practices Commission is struggling to figure out what in all that constitutes political communication that ought to be regulated — like paid advertising — and what is purely a function of free speech.

It’s a fair question.

Last week, I testified (and Tweeted) before the FPPC’s Subcommittee examining electronic communication in political campaigns as part of a panel of political consultants (also at the table was Julia Rosen, the Courage Campaign’s Online Political Directorm and Bryan Merica from ID Media and Fox & Hounds Daily). We were followed by Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation, Derek Cressman of Common Cause, Tiffany Mok of the ACLU and Professor Barbara O’Connor, Sacramento State University.

The subcommittee wanted to hear from us if it should develop, in the words of Chairman Ross Johnson, “appropriate responses to new political realities.”

My advice was straightforward: do no harm. Don’t regulate independent bloggers. Don’t do anything that will stunt the growth of the Internet to attract and involve voters. But do provide clear guidelines for disclosure if there’s campaign money involved. And while you’re at it, provide clarity on the advice campaigns are getting from the commission, and conform to Federal Election Commission requirements.

Halfway through my testimony — where I was trying to detail the multiple changes on Facebook that would make it difficult for the FPPC to mandate where disclosure requirements might be posted — I looked up and saw all three commissioner’s with “what the hell are you talking about” faces. They were clearly baffled by technology they’d never dealt with personally (indeed, there was no wifi in the room, the hearing wasn’t webcast and the three commissioners admitted to never having used Twitter). That wasn’t encouraging.

But while three commissioners were dazed and confused by comments about pixels and Google Adwords, they seemed get what all the panelists were saying: proceed with caution. As  commissioner Tim Hodson told me afterward, the hearing “underscored both the perils of addressing such wide open and ever changing area and the need to ensure minimal disclosure.”

Hodson and his fellow commissioners are picking up on FPPC’s decade-long review of political campaign activity on the web. Back in the stone age of internet campaigning, Assemblyman Keith Olberg penned AB 2720, which created a Bipartisan Commission on Internet Political Practices. The Commission’s job was to determine if and how web-based communication could confirm to the mother of California’s campaign law, the oft-amended Political Reform Act, which was authored in 1974, well before Al Gore invented the Internet.

After toiling for a year, the Internet Commission reported “we do not think it would be wise or necessary to adopt new laws or a new administrative vehicle specifically aimed at  limiting or regulating the use of the Internet by political actor.”

The December 2003 report also presciently warned of regulating ever-changing web campaign technology:

When government attempts to regulate the use of technology, what we do not know can indeed hurt us. The speed of technological change and the ability of practitioners to adapt to new rules make regulatory efforts in these areas difficult. Swift changes can make old rules inoperable or inappropriate.

Technological changes that affect how hyperlinks are generated, how content from one Web site is framed by another, how online advertising is delivered to users, and how lists for unsolicited email campaigns are constructed, for example, could all change the meaning and the impact of regulations written prior to these innovations.

And things did change. Twitter, Facebook, viral YouTube videos, and Google email blasts all have become de rigueur elements of modern campaigning. First Democrats Howard Dean and then Barack Obama, set the pace for developing innovative electronic communications. In January, Scott Brown dumped more than 10 percent of his advertising budget in online advertising, and credited it, in part, for his win.

This may be just the tip of the iceberg, as campaigns get smarter about microtargeting on the  web. A recent study by Tulchin Research found that 57 percent of Californians access political news and information via Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. Some 40 percent of social media users are following or supporting candidates for office via Facebook and Twitter. One in five voters use their smart phones to get political news and information.

FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson seems to be hinting that he’s not inclined to do anything to hamper this rapid growth electronic communication. And that’ s good.

“The Commission is not interested in requiring individuals to report as committees when they are merely exercising their First Amendment rights, but if this is paid political speech, then perhaps tighter regulation requiring greater disclosure and transparency is in order,” he said in a press release before the hearing

That’s the path I’d expect the FPPC to go: requiring greater disclosure, somewhere, somehow on all campaign-paid electronic communication. That’s not as easy as it sounds, though, and the commission has its work cut out for it to make that regulation work.

Later this year the subcommittee will present its findings to the full Commission for consideration of whether new rules are necessary to require the disclosure of who is behind electronic messages advocating for or against the election of California’s state and local candidates or ballot measures.

These changes could require the adoption of regulations by the Commission, or entirely new state laws, which must be adopted as a bill by the Legislature, or as a proposition by a vote of the people.

The Commission is right to investigate this new landscape as long as it first does no damage.

(The FPPC will hold another subcommittee hearing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. , March 24  at the University of Southern California Law School, Ackerman Courtroom, Room 107, located at 699 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles. Full information can be found here.)

Newsom Hunkers Down: Jaye Books, South Rises

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

ericjaye2When Calbuzz heard from the enterprising Phil Matier and Andy Ross that Eric Jaye, Gavin Newsom’s longtime senior political adviser, was quitting his Prince’s campaign for governor because of “a fundamental difference” (his words) with strategist Garry South, we weren’t bowled over with surprise.

It’s not that South is a control freak; in fact, he’s perfectly capable of working collaboratively and cooperatively with campaign managers and other candidate handlers.

But Jaye to date in the campaign had Newsom heavily focused on using and trumpeting his use of online social network tools, both for organizing and for fundraising and South  is simply not, by nature,  a Twitter-Facebook-kind of guy.gary_south

The last political consultant to elect a Democrat governor of the state, the Duke of Darkness is a bare-knuckles, in-your-face, shoe-leather, hand-to-hand combat veteran who has two main tasks: 1) Get his candidate to raise a ship load of money and 2) Needle, badger and tweak primary rival Jerry Brown at every turn.

Jaye and South were both doing their best to handle the split-up professionally, and with as little inside vitriol splashing on Newsom as possible. We tried to bait South into talking but he refused to engage.

But as Calbuzz sees it, Newsom’s decision to dump the guy who’s been with him from the beginning of his career, in favor of the guy who has actually won a tough Democratic primary and two governor’s races –- not to mention taking out number of millionaire opponents — suggests Newsom is choosing to forego the all-tweet-all-the-time strategy in favor of a little throwback hardball.

As we noted July 2 , while Brown is sitting on more than $7 million (without actually announcing his candidacy), Newsom has raised just $2.8 million and has only $1.1 million in the bank, despite his legions of Twitter and Facebook fans.

Jaye apparently felt that Newsom could use his online profile to pull an Obama, who shattered all known fundraising records in his presidential bid with a major assist from the web. Fair enough, but that notion ignores the fact that before he was Lord of the Internets, Obama was an old school Chicago pol, with guys like David Axelrod locking him up to dial for dollars and running him through countless fundraisers so that in the year before the election he outraised Hillary Clinton the old fashioned way.

That’s what Newsom must to do to become more than a San Francisco boutique candidate. Brown’s long record and saturation name ID, for better or worse, presents a formidable obstacle for a rookie candidate, and Newsom needs to find a way to gain a financial and tactical edge on General Jerry.

(Aside: We were reminded of the decision made by former Gov. Pete Wilson in September 1995 when he picked Craig Fuller, an old Bush Sr. hand, to manage his presidential campaign over George Gorton, his friend and campaign strategist for 25 years. Gorton had never run a national campaign.)

Democratic primaries are all about capturing the party’s left-wing, and over at Calitics, our liberal friends fretted that losing Jaye, with his back-to-the-roots connection to Newsom and his progressive politics, is worrisome for the San Francisco mayor’s chances.

“South has a history with the radical moderates over at the Democratic Leadership Council, and that’s how he won with Davis,” wrote the estimable Brian Leubitz. “He talked ToughOnCrime ™, business, and all that jive. And it won him the 1998 election.

“But California is in a very different place today than it was then. If Garry South is going to be running Newsom’s campaign, he’ll have to update his strategy. It didn’t work with Steve Westly, and it won’t fare much better now.”

This is fuzzy thinking. Newsom’s first challenge is to beat Brown in a Democratic primary. So why in that context, would South even try to position Newsom to the right of the Attorney General?

Newsom and South are going to have to run a two track campaign: extolling the alleged wonders of San Francisco while ripping Brown’s record — as a governor, mayor, attorney general, state party chairman and the other 173 offices he’s held –- up one side and down the other. This is what South knows how to do, and is very, very good at. And it’s the pathway that Newsom has now chosen as his longtime friend and adviser leaves the field.

— By Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine

RT @GavinNewsom Is In via Twitter,YT, FB & HuffPo

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

To the surprise of no one, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom “officially” declared himself a candidate for governor today, with a media avail at Facebook HQ and a three-minute YouTube on Huffington Post in which he cheerfully tries to sprinkle dirt on Jerry Brown’s political grave.

Here’s his Tweet:
GavinNewsom It’s official- running for Gov of CA. Wanted you to be the first to know. Need your help. Check out video: http://tr.im/iOCN and ReTweet

Watch the video and hear these little nuggets from 41-year-old Prince Gavin:

“I’ve seen what can happen when we stop looking back and start looking for solutions . . . We can’t afford to keep returning to the same old tired ideas and expect a different result. We need new ideas, bold, fresh, innovative solutions to get out of this mess.”

Gee, Gav, we wonder which 71-year-old Democratic rival you might be suggesting is old school?

A Big Role for Silicon Valley in California Governor’s Race

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The Tech Companies That Candidates Most Resemble
By Calbuzzer Jude Barry

Silicon Valley is known around the world as the epicenter of technology and innovation. For political candidates, it’s a good place to raise money and, perhaps more importantly, establish yourself as the Next Big Thing. This is particularly true for presidential candidates. In the mid-‘80s, Gary Hart tapped into Silicon Valley; his 1984 logo even had a Silicon Valleyesque digitized look.

In the ‘90s, Bill Clinton was the hot new start-up. He trumped George H.W. Bush with high-profile endorsements from Silicon Valley CEOs during the homestretch of the 1992 election, demonstrating that an Arkansas governor, not the incumbent president, understood the problem was “the economy, stupid.”

As president, Clinton emphasized the association by seating Apple CEO John Sculley next to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the 1993 State of the Union.

Al Gore furthered his connection to Silicon Valley as VP, 2000 presidential candidate and now as a Nobel-prize-carrying private citizen continues to remain active in the community as an Apple board member, Google adviser, and venture capitalist.

John Kerry benefited greatly from the Clinton-Gore network and his own, out-raising President George W. Bush in Silicon Valley by approximately $5 million to $2 million in 2004.

Candidate Barack Obama was the prototypical Silicon Valley contender in 2008. He personified a disruptive technology company: new, young, and a challenge to the status quo. This, of course, translated into dollars. Obama not only raised significant money in Silicon Valley (by the end the primary season, he raised more in Northern California than Southern California), he used Silicon Valley technology and social networking to shatter all fundraising records, raising half a billion dollars online.

While it’s clear that many presidential candidates have used the cash and cachet of Silicon Valley to establish themselves as serious challengers, the high tech imprimatur hasn’t worked as well in statewide California elections.

Former Congressman Ed Zschau, a product and representative of the tech community, narrowly lost a 1986 U.S. Senate race to Alan Cranston (who, for all his liberal credentials, had authored the first bill to cut the capital gains tax – a favorite Silicon Valley cause). Tom Campbell, who served in Zschau’s congressional seat and as a state senator, lost badly in a 2000 U.S. Senate challenge. Former Controller Steve Westly, an early eBay executive, narrowly lost the 2006 Democratic primary for Governor.

But 2010 will be different. The Republican primary now boasts three candidates from Silicon Valley: Campbell, Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO, and Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a former high-tech entrepreneur. Without a dramatic new entrant, the Republican gubernatorial candidate will have roots and a message based in Silicon Valley.

Whitman is laying the early claim to technology leaders with high-profile endorsements like John Chambers (Cisco) and Carol Bartz (Yahoo).

On the Democratic side, no candidate has similar connections or the network that naturally forms from working in Silicon Valley. But the candidates need not cede either Silicon Valley money or image. With the economy being an ascendant issue, as it was in 1992, Democratic candidates should borrow something from the Bill Clinton campaign playbook and demonstrate to Californians that they understand, as any governor must, one of the important economic engines of our state.

Further, Silicon Valley is morphing into the clean-tech capital of the world. Last year in the U.S., more silicon was used for solar panels than computer chips. Any candidate who recognizes that and can articulate how this will be a solid foundation of California’s economic future where jobs improve, not degrade, the environment, will have a strong appeal to voters.

Who will be the Silicon Valley candidate in 2010? Many candidates have the potential. So here’s a look at the likely gubernatorial candidates and some thoughts on how they might personify certain companies. You decide whose stock will rise or fall.


Jerry Brown – Apple
No Silicon Valley company has re-invented itself more successfully than Apple. From Lisa and Macintosh to Ipod and Iphone, Apple has changed with the times and frequently led the market. You can say the same about Brown and his political career. The one-time leftist, futurist California Governor became the centrist, realist Oakland Mayor.

Gavin Newsom – Facebook
Gavin hasn’t announced he’s in the race for governor yet. And Facebook hasn’t launched its IPO. But Gavin is counting on the same type of young, social-network energy that made Facebook successful. He has more Facebook supporters than any political figure in California.

Antonio Villaraigosa – Yahoo
Yahoo and Villaraigosa have had rough going lately. Yahoo has a new CEO and is laying off workers. Villaraigosa had weak showing in his mayoral re-election last month. But both have terrific market share. Yahoo despite its challenges remains one of the most visited sites. Likewise, the mayor of LA, despite questions about viability is the best known political figure in the largest media market in the state.

John Garamendi – Sun Microsystems

The Lieutenant Governor has been a party standard bearer for decades and is known as a solid and competent Democratic leader who has made policy contributions from health care to workers comp reform. Sun is not a household name, but in Silicon Valley the company has a reputation for strong technology contributions (workstations and Java). However, both are lagging. Garamendi trails known Democrats in the polls and Sun stock is at historic lows.


Meg Whitman – eBay
She’s eBay, of course. She led the online auction company from start-up to new-economy poster child and grew revenue from millions to billions. But eBay isn’t just about selling stuff you find at garage sales. The company created a real online community and a new economy. Whitman will talk about this as much as the jobs she helped create. Like eBay, she will have the marketing budget to just about tell any story she wants.

Steve Poizer – Intel
Poizner made his money and name in Silicon Valley by starting SnapTrack, a company that put GPS receivers in cell phones – over 700 million of them. That’s almost as ubiquitous as Intel, the chip-maker that dominates its market. Like Intel, Poizner isn’t known for being particularly exciting – just everywhere. While he may not have the CEO support that Whitman does in Silicon Valley, he has been cultivating the Republican grassroots both here and around the state.

Tom Campbell – Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich, & Rosati
Campbell served on the Harvard Law Review board, clerked for the Supreme Court and was a tenured law professor at Stanford at the age of 34. We know he’s smart and thoughtful. He demonstrated his legal and financial skills in Congress and in Sacramento as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finance director. Given his intellectual prowess, he would be the premiere Silicon Valley law firm: Wilson Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. Both the firm and Campbell are wired throughout Silicon Valley’s tech companies and venture firms.

Jude Barry is a Democratic political consultant from Silicon Valley and was, until last week, working for John Garamendi’s prospective campaign for governor. As of this writing he is unaffiliated in the race.

Garamendi Fired By His Political Consultant

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Making high-tech history, Silicon Valley political consultant Jude Barry has announced his resignation from John Garamendi’s campaign for governor on his Facebook page.

A class act, Barry wouldn’t go beyond the statement he posted to his FB friends when we reached him Tuesday. But it’s not hard to imagine why he bailed: Eight months into the mission, Garamendi has yet to find campaign co-chairs or, more importantly, finance co-chairs, which suggests his fundraising reports won’t be front page news. He and wife Patty seem set on running a Ma and Pa Kettle operation. And don’t even get us started about trying to get an email answered by the campaign.

Beyond the organizational problems, however, there is simply no clear rationale for a Garamendi candidacy: Dudley Do Right has already run and lost for governor twice — to Tom Bradley in the 1982 Democratic primary and to Kathleen Brown in the 1994 primary; now he’s facing the Three Strikes law for politicians (In an earlier post, we incorrectly reported that Garamendi had also run in the 2003 recall election for governor; calbuzz regrets the error).

“I like John Garamendi and appreciate the opportunity to have worked with him and many other good people on his team, both on the campaign and in the Lieutenant Governor’s office,” Barry said in his Face post on Monday. “But, at this point, I’ve done all I can to help him. I don’t think I can do much more and it doesn’t feel right to just hang around the campaign. I wish John and the campaign good luck.”