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Posts Tagged ‘Jarrod Agen’



eMeg Invades Libraries; Commish Escapes Bondage

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Let’s hear another chorus of  “No Motherland Without You” Not content to road block the state’s airwaves, Meg Whitman has now opened another communications channel to force feed her campaign talking points to all Californians. According to Team eMeg:

Meg Whitman has mailed two copies of her plan, “Building A New California”, to about 1,400 public libraries throughout the state. The 48-page policy magazine concentrates on her three priorities: creating jobs, cutting government spending and fixing education.

“In an effort to provide California voters with the information they need to make an informed decision about which candidate has the right experience and leadership skills to be the next Governor of our state, I’ve mailed my plan for ‘Building A New California’ to our state’s public libraries,” said Whitman. “I encourage the libraries to display my magazine in their periodicals section so voters can gain a clear understanding of how I will govern, if elected in November.”

Such a deal. What’s next – framed oil portraits of Her Megness in every K-12 classroom? “Thanks Dear Leader, for all you do for us” signs erected by Cal Trans on every freeway exit? eMeg loyalty oaths sworn and signed by every faculty member at UC?

First Amendment sluts that we are, Calbuzz is all for widespread dissemination of information. But the idea of using taxpayer-funded institutions as distribution points for political propaganda strikes us as kinda’ creepy, and just doesn’t pass the smell test.

Poizner’s Eyes Wide Shut: Steve Poizner’s flack, Jarrod Agen, couldn’t put enough distance between his boss and Erik Brown, owner of  Dynamic Marketing Inc., whom Poizner’s campaign paid more than $10,000 for literature and mailings last May.

That’s ’cause Brown is the galoot who was reimbursed by the Republican National Committee for almost $2,000 in charges at Voyeur West Hollywood, a risqué, bondage-themed nightclub in Hollywood.

All the news about this, btw, was broken unflinchingly  by The Daily Caller,  conservative TV yakker Tucker Carlson’s DC online political site.

Records show Brown charged Poizner for more than $10,000 in services in May 2009, but a Poizner spokesman immediately distanced the candidate from Brown, the DC reported. Spokesman Jarrod Agen said Brown is merely a “direct mail vendor” and is not a consultant to the Poizner campaign. He says Brown hasn’t worked for them since June. “You can’t call someone a ‘Poizner consultant’ who we haven’t dealt with in nearly a year,” Agen said in an e-mail to the DC.

Catch up with the story, including RNC Chairman Michael Steele’s role, here and  here.

More guilty pleasures: Check out The Daily Beast’s close comparative analysis of Democrat and Republican sex scandals, which includes a ranking of the top 58 of the last 20 years, featuring three Californians – Kevin Shelley (#29); Gary Condit (#43) and Gavin Newsom (#53) – as well as Andy Borowitz’s blindingly insightful look at what l’affaire de Voyeur means for the RNC’s stance on gay marriage.

How about naming rights for the Wednesday edition? Our Department of Newspaper Credibility and On-Time Driveway Delivery has long found problematic the Chronicle’s practice of running Willie Brown’s column in its news pages.

We have nothing against the Sunday Mr. Speaker feature – in fact we’re often entertained or informed by one of his self-serving items. Given Brown’s impenetrable tangle of political, financial and legal interests and conflicts in San Francisco and California, however, prudent editorial  judgment would seem to err on the side of running the column on the op-ed page, where readers would understand up front that what they were getting wasn’t “news” in any sense of the word.

Now comes the Bay Guardian to report that Chronicle columnist Brown has been representing PG&E’s political interests before the state Public Utilities Commission, with nary a word of disclosure to readers. When the Guardian’s Tim Redmond called up editor Ward Bushee to ask WTF, he offered this see-no-evil response:

Our readers like his column to a large degree because he’s the Willie Brown with a long and colorful political history and many connections…Willie is not an employee or a member of the Chronicle staff but his columns go through standard editing procedures. He understands conflict of interest as well as anyone. I’m confident that he would not use his column to promote or benefit outside interests or clients. But if you feel differently, why don’t you contact him and ask him these questions directly.

Huh? In other words, the ethical standards of the San Francisco Chronicle are now left to the journalistic judgment and best intentions of Willie L. Brown Jr. to determine. And you wonder why newspapers are in the dumper.

And don’t call me chief: “The Wrap” is one of our favorite Hollywood news sites, but not necessarily the first place we look for serious media criticism. But Dylan Stableford delivered a well-deserved smack on the snout to the 15 dead tree newspapers in the nation whose editors decided that passage of health care reform did not merit play on the front page.

Among the papers that put the story inside, and the yarns they featured on the front instead:

Palm Beach Daily News, Palm Beach, Florida
“Census Forms Arriving in the Mail.”

Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, Florida
A story on Hollywood’s suddenly feeble leading men pegged to Ben Stiller’s “Greenberg” character.

Commercial-News, Danville, Illinois
Photos of a maple syrup open house.

Don’t stop the presses!

Calling all wingnuts: Frank Rich nailed it with Sunday’s column in which he loudly called out the racism and sexism of the Arayan Nation Tea Party legions, noting correctly that their complaints about health care are nothing more than a gauzy curtain for their bottom line concern: there’s a black guy in the White House:

That a tsunami of anger is gathering today is illogical, given that what the right calls “Obamacare” is less provocative than either the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or Medicare, an epic entitlement that actually did precipitate a government takeover of a sizable chunk of American health care. But the explanation is plain: the health care bill is not the main source of this anger and never has been. It’s merely a handy excuse. The real source of the over-the-top rage of 2010 is the same kind of national existential reordering that roiled America in 1964.

If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play…When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.

Patriots, indeed. 

Poizner Going on Air with Hit on “Liberal” Whitman

Monday, March 1st, 2010

Calbuzz has learned that Steve Poizner is set to launch his TV air campaign for the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday with two spots, including one that tags rival Meg Whitman as a “liberal.”

“California’s in crisis,” the ad’s voiceover begins, quickly getting to the money line:

What’s liberal Meg Whitman’s weak response? False negative attacks on Republican Steve Poizner’s conservative solutions.

The 30-second spot, which you can find here,  is notable for three reasons: 1) it signals clearly that Poizner is going to define the GOP race as being about ideology, where eMeg has framed it on competence, by stressing her business experience; 2) the ad quickly goes after the GOP red-meat issue of illegal immigration with a hard line that contrasts with Whitman’s measured statements on the topic; 3) the Commish labels himself a “Republican,” in contrast to Whitman’s ads, which do not mention her party identification, in what is more of a general election appeal than a primary pitch to partisans.

The campaign’s second spot focuses on Poizner’s “conservative solutions” call for a 10 percent across-the-board tax cut.

Communications director Jarrod Agen refused to comment on the size or other details of the campaign’s media buy. The ads are scheduled to hit the airwaves one day after Poizner officially declared his candidacy.

His campaign originally planned to hold off on TV advertising until after the end of the Republican convention on March 15, but jump-started his effort after eMeg launched a barrage of four attacks ads against him last week.

Swap Meet: Weakly Rumor, Crusty Snaps, 3 Dots

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

The record will show that Steve Poizner had just left a meeting with editors and reporters in Silicon Valley, a few minutes after 4 pm. Thursday, when his trusty flack knocked down the latest rumor that The Commish was quitting the governor’s race.

In response to our email inquiry, Poizner mouthpiece Jarrod (The Pagan) Agen texted:

Hahaha…sorry, my blackberry died. We literally just walked out of the San Jose Merc Ed Board….it’s usually better to spread these rumors when we aren’t sitting in front of a room of journalists. I’m sure Meg Whitman would like Steve to drop out of the race, but it is not happening.

Calbuzz is usually far too busy working on our short-iron game or our memoirs (“Settling Our Scores: Our Life in American Journalism”) to truck in such low-rent rumors, but the volume of intelligence traffic on this one got loud enough on Thursday to check out.

It’s not entirely surprising, of course, that such speculation would swirl, given yet another lousy Poizner showing in new Field and PPIC polls (the last time the story got heavily peddled also coincided with a round of fresh surveys, when he suddenly announced a $15 million donation to the cause).

And, if you ponder long and hard enough about it, it’s even possible to think of someone who might potentially benefit from spreading such a tale (“Yeah, that’s the Whitman campaign’s wet dream,” a key Poizner insider growled when we raised the rumor).

All pretty standard primary Kabuki, including the part when Poizner told the Merc Ed Board, “I don’t think the polls mean a lot” at this point. Except: amid the countless media iterations of the new horserace polls, including ours, it is important to keep in mind that Poizner is, um, actually right.

As Timm Herdt, the VC Star’s All-Madden political reporter, notes:

The last time there was a contested GOP primary for governor — in 2002 — former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan held an even larger lead in the polls in January, which at the time was much closer to Election Day (the primary was in March instead of June back then).

Here are the numbers from the Jan. 29, 2002 Field Poll: Riordan 46 percent, Bill Simon 13 percent, Bill Jones 13 percent. That’s a 33-point lead. The Jan. 25, 2010 Field Poll shows Whitman at 45 percent and Poizner at 17 percent, a 28-point lead, with a lot more undecideds than there were in January ’02.

Clearly, there are differences between the two races — most notably the fact that Whitman stands ready to spend a whole lot more money than Riordan ever did, and Poizner won’t be helped, as was Simon, by an orchestrated effort by the incumbent Democrat (Gray Davis) to help undercut the GOP front-runner.

Still, don’t underestimate the power of the conservative grassroots in a closed Republican primary in California.

Good point, well taken.

Beyond the time-space continuum: Jerry Brown appeared to be time traveling again when he went on KGO-radio this week and launched an attack on…Gavin Newsom?

Seems Mayor Narcissus recently sniped at Brown for lacking the “fire in the belly” to run for governor and Crusty being Crusty, just couldn’t let it pass with, oh say, a gracious word or two for a vanquished opponent.

He’s been giving a lot of advice to the president and now me, and I’m sure there’ll be others because when you don’t have a lot to do, you can start checking out what other people have been doing.

Yo Jerry! The dude dropped out in October. Give it a rest, man.

Also notable was Brown’s take on the latest speculation (as reliable as the Poizner rumor, Costco Carla) that Difi is taking another look at running for governor:

The job of governor is going to be a very difficult and painful task.  It’s going to take all the skills and all the knowledge and all the will and the grace of God to get you through it. It’s not something anybody is going rush into other than those ignorant to what’s ahead.

There are a lot of people maybe who are standing in the wings and are looking to undergo a $150 million assault on their character and their record and their future.

Translation: Feinstein was permanently scarred by getting savaged by Michael Huffington’s millions in negative ads in 1994, then demurred on the 1998 gov’s race in part because she didn’t want $40 million of Al Checchi money dumped on her head. So WTF would she choose to go up against eMeg’s $100 million+ to run for the world’s worst job, when she could be sleeping in and exchanging witty banter in amusing Georgetown salons? Meanwhile Don Ringe’s latest political animated cartoon includes an exclusive interview with Herself about her views on the governorship.

Three dot lounge: HT to Robert B. Gunnison (the only erstwhile Capitol reporter whose name forms a complete sentence in Ebonics) for demanding we not miss Steve Harmon’s well-reported piece about why journos and other researchers have been denied access to Crusty’s official papers from his first tour as governor…Talk about news that stays news: one of the top stories on the Washpost RSS feed Friday morning was “Democrats confused about path ahead”…Nice thoughtful piece on the Supreme Court’s big campaign finance ruling by longtime Democratic operative and consultant Les Francis, seeking to hose down the easily excited types in his party…

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Pants on the Ground” guy not allowed inside Grammys.

Money Down: What Poizner’s Cash Play Means

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

poiznergoldWe’re not sure what possessed Steve Poizner to put on his web site a digital running total that publicly tracks his ballyhooed effort to raise $50K in December – without having at least two-thirds of the amount committed and ready to post, to feed the perception of momentum.

Whatever it was, however, we’re pretty sure it was just about the worst idea since the Edsel.

One look at Poizner’s version of the Jerry’s Kids telethon thermometer Monday – when it stood at a pathetically droopy $12,885 – – is all you need to know about why The Commish suddenly announced he would go to the wallet for $15 million of his own fortune to sustain his lagging campaign for governor.

“He didn’t have any other option,” said one Republican insider. “There were rumors all over Sacramento that he was going to drop out.”

Poizner’s $15 million move will likely stop the bleeding among the gossip-mongering cognoscenti (which he’s done for the moment, at least to judge by campaign flack Jarrod Agen’s success in getting the entire press corps to write exactly the same story Monday). It also may calm some of his current supporters, whose restiveness in the face of his failure to move the needle in the polls seems to have led to the we-got-her-right-where-we-want-her memo his campaign e-blasted last week, which smacked of desperation.

Having made his move, Poiznergreendollar now faces two other, far more difficult tasks: a) actually writing the check he’s promised (we’ll be watching) and b) figuring out how to spend the dough wisely. We’re also not convinced that $15 million is enough to make the kind of splash – positive, negative or both – he needs.

As we noted last week in our six-months-out-from-the-primary analysis, which said flatly that Poizner needed to fork out some serious cash soon, Whitman’s scorched earth strategy of spending Whatever It Takes means it’ll cost Single Digits Steve big bucks just to get even with the name ID she’s already bought, let alone cruise by her.

With Her Megness trouncing The Commish in early opinion surveys, his campaign will surely be tempted to go negative on her out of the box, in an effort to stop her momentum.

This would be an unforced error, in our view, since the only people in California who have any idea who he is right now are the disheveled hordes who read Calbuzz, and he doesn’t want the first thing they learn about him to be that he beats up girls; beyond that, eMeg’s low-profile but expensive radio campaign has laid down a pretty good ground cover defense against a sudden air attack.

On the other hand, putting a couple million bucks behind positive spots, based on his recent “Back from the Brink” bio web ad (slight digression: Who thought that was a swell title? Not a few political junkies assumed he was talking about his campaign, not the state of California) is the safe and conventional play, but it remains to be seen whether the centerpiece of Poizner’s campaign, his ”bold” 10-10-10 budget proposal, has enough juice to give him some movement.

tomtwirl

Certainly, the specificity of his tax cut plan gives him one potentially sharp contrast with eMeg, who has said the state’s current tax structure doesn’t need remaking. He’s also likely to compare her broad brush plan to can 40,000 state employees unfavorably with his more detailed proposed for a 10 percent spending cut.

One potential game changer in the GOP race, of course, would be Tom Campbell abandoning his bid for governor to jump into the Republican primary race for Senate.

Campbell spokesman James Fisfis confirmed to Chris Cillizza of the WashPost that Tom Terrific has been approached to make the switch. It makes sense in a lot of ways: Campbell by nature is more of the legislative than executive type and, even though he’d still face an uphill battle raising money against Carly Fiorina, it would be an easier slog than trying to make his way in the Daddy/Mommy Warbucks primary against eMeg and The Commish.

We talked to Campbell about the rumors Monday and, for the first time in his life, he was tight lipped:

“I am in the race for governor. I have nothing to add to that.”

Try as we might to twist ourselves into contortions to get more out of him – i.e. “When you return from your holiday vacation (he and his wife are headed to Panama to study intensive Spanish – honest, you could look it up) will you still be a candidate for governor?

“I am in the race for governor, and I’m not really going to add to that.”

Which smells suspiciously like he’s seriously looking at it. If he goes, about one-quarter of the GOP vote, which is where he’s been polling, is suddenly up for grabs.

On the natural, that would seem to benefit Poizner, just because he would gain from anything that shakes up the race, and he comes closer to Campbell’s egghead appeal. But as Poizner tacks hard right, Campbell’s politics are closer to Whitman’s, so she’d likely at least a split his vote.

For months, Poizner has been trashing Whitman for spending millions of her own money on the race, charging that she thinks the election “is an eBay auction.” Now, he’s finally made his own bid, and the key question is, will it prove too little, too late.

Foxy Brown Probes Drugs, Michael Jackson Docs

Friday, August 28th, 2009

jerryfoxUpdate 4 p.m. Attorney General and wannabe governor Jerry Brown announced Friday that agents from his office will conduct “an independent investigation” of doctors involved in the LAPD’s ongoing probe of Michael Jackson’s death. With the county coroner having ruled Jackson’s death a homicide, Brown said members of the AG’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement would pursue leads in the case, most likely involving prescription drugs and anesthesia administered to Jackson shortly before his death.

It is the second high-profile criminal matter that Brown has stepped into in recent days.

Calbuzz pleads guilty. . . To writing about Jerry Brown way more as a candidate for governor than as California’s Attorney General.

But when we saw that Crusty the General’s Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, working with the Imperial County Narcotic Task Force, Imperial County District Attorney Otero, and Imperial County Sheriff Raymond Loera, had seized 550 pounds of cocaine and marijuana and indicted 16 people – “dealing a body blow to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel” – we had to take note.

Not so much of the bust – although that was pretty impressive. But of the groovy name of the joint investigation: “Operation Silver Fox.”

Calbuzz is not making this up. (BNE coined the name, we’re told.) This is what you might call perceptual synchronicity – a perfect harmonic convergence of moniker and monikee, of label and labeled. And it gave the Silver Fox himself a chance to brag.

“This notorious cartel smuggled massive quantities of cocaine and marijuana into Southern California, fueling addiction and violence across the nation,” Brown said. “Through a very dangerous and courageous undercover operation, the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement and Imperial County Narcotic Task Force has dealt a body blow to this syndicate and seized hundreds of pounds of narcotics.”

According to Jerry’s press release:

“Initiated in January 2009, the investigation found that the Mexican cartel smuggled drugs into Southern California-often through the Calexico ports of entry using vehicles equipped with hidden compartments-and would subsequently distribute the drugs to buyers in cities throughout the United States and Canada.

“The 8-month investigation included more than 100 surveillance operations (carried out in Bell Gardens, Calexico, Colton, Fontana, Los Angeles, Ontario, Pacoima, Rialto, Riverside and San Diego), 30 undercover meetings and the execution of 6 search warrants. The operations resulted in the seizure of: 420 pounds of cocaine and 136 pound
s of marijuana, with a combined street value of more than $19 million; $1.7 million in U.S. currency; and 9 firearms, including 7 handguns and 2 assault rifles.”

They forgot to add:  “And, we got to give it a really cool name.”

stevepointing

It’s On: Accusing Meg Whitman of a “secret smear campaign,” Steve Poizner threw up a new, “myth-busting” web site Thursday, trying to counter a mash-up attack video, quietly shopped to the media by eMeg’s press secretary, that hits him on the issue of early release for felons.

The video, which is here, juxtaposes a clip of Poizner in 2004, when he was running for the Assembly, with audio tape from an interview he did this week with “John and Ken,” hosts of a conservative talk show in L.A. As a legislative candidate, Poizner said it’s reasonable for the state to grant early release to non-violent felons; as a candidate for governor, the Insurance Commish says that it’s a “terrible, terrible idea” and tries to make like John Wayne.

Whitman flack Sarah Pompei sent the video as an attachment to an (as yet) unidentified reporter on Wednesday. Below a subject line reading “Not for attribution” Pompei wrote “Here’s the video I was telling you about over the phone.” At which point the reporter appears to have forwarded it to Poizner flack Jarrod Agen; he smartly splashed Pompei’s email on Poizner’s new web site, under a big honking headline that reads “Meg’s Smear Campaign.”

“Attacks are fine but make them above board,” Agen told Calbuzz. “Whitman’s avoiding debates and interviews, then has this secret campaign going on, which she doesn’t want linked back to her.”

Pompei shrugged off the “secret smear” charge, noting in an email that “this is a very common practice in media relations,” then turned the attack back on Poizner: “Does our opponent really believe he can freely crisscross the state making statements that are completely at odds with his own record – and it wouldn’t be reported.?”

Armed with this set of facts, the Calbuzz Department of Justice and Janitorial Services issues this considered opinion:

1. The attack on Poizner over early release is totally legit, as were Pompei’s actions in pushing it out, but she loses major style points for getting busted on her email.

2. Agen did nice work in moving quickly in trying to make eMeg’s sneaky M.O. the issue instead of Poizner’s flip-flop on early release* but loses minor style points for hyperventilating rhetoric.

3. Props to both of them for not snitching out the reporter.

4. The abiding issue is that Her Megness is still ducking and hiding instead of coming out into the arena and playing the game. If she wants to accuse Poizner of being a flip-flopping weenie, fine, but have the stones to stand up and say it, instead of hiring Inspector Clouseau to plant the evidence.

*For the record, Poizner’s web site explains his change of position this way: “Since he first ran for the State Assembly in 2003, Steve Poizner has learned more about the serious problems facing California’s prisons, and believes that short-term fixes like the early release of inmates from state prisons cannot fundamentally solve our state’s corrections crisis.”

carlyglamourParis, Brit…and Carly? Back when she was, um, leading Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina briefly basked in the adoration of the nation’s business press, which dubbed her a “Celebrity CEO.” Now limbering up for a U.S. Senate run, Hurricane Carly, in a serendipitous turnabout, has hired on Strategic Perceptions Inc., the campaign media consultants who produced the famous “Celebrity” ad for John McCain in last year’s presidential race.

The McCain ad, which is here,  was produced by SPI chief Fred Davis, who performed a lovely work of political ju-jitsu, tagging Barack Obama as “the biggest celebrity in the world,” while juxtaposing images of his rock-star trip to Europe with those of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

Davis says on his web site that “the spot surpassed one million YouTube views in just 24 hours and instantly changed the national dialogue in that race.” And “The Battle for America 2008,” the terrific, newly published recap of the campaign pretty much affirms that analysis:

“The ad was mocked as petty, a diversion and the latest example of how far McCain had strayed from the kind of campaign he ran either years earlier,” write Washposters Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson. “And yet the commercial worked: It put McCain on offense and, despite the public’s apparent dismissal of the ad, threw the Obama team off its stride.”

Now that Carly the Celebrity is the client, it will be interesting to see what kind of Ju-Jitsu II move Davis devises to inoculate Fiorina against the same kind of charge he used to great effect against Obama. As they like to say over at Fortune magazine,  “flexibility is the key to survival.”

More on Hurricane Herself: The always readable Michael Hiltzik offers a full airing of the “I, Carly” issue in the By God L.A. Times, while a Central Coast Calbuzz correspondent repcalbuzzartorts that the excerpt of her new novel in Dr. H’s column the other day reminds him of the famous line from comic sci-fi writer Douglas Adams: “She looked cool and in charge, and if she could fool herself, she could fool anybody.”

Oh, can’t we open our presents now? As the countdown hits 24 hours, anticipation is building to fever pitch in advance of the big announcement of the Calbuzz New Deal.  See this space Saturday for full details.