CA-10: DeSaulnier’s Endorsement Trouble

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier has based a lot of his campaign strategy in the quick-sprint Congressional race for CA-10 on endorsements.  Not a day goes by when he doesn’t release some endorsement by one character or another into my inbox.  The other day he touted that he received a “majority of endorsement votes” from California Democratic Party delegates at their endorsement meeting over the weekend, without mentioning that he did not reach the 60% threshold that would be required for an official CDP endorsement.

However, one endorsement has caused DeSaulnier a bit of a headache – the support of the former holder of this seat, Ellen Tauscher.  DeSaulnier has made no secret of that endorsement, including it in mailers and on his TV advertisement.  One problem with all this: with Tauscher now at the State Department, some have raised concerns that her endorsement while working at a federal agency violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from participating in partisan politics.  DeSaulnier’s camp has countered that the endorsement, which was made before Tauscher was confirmed for the post at State, always says “Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher” and thus indicates that it was made prior to that appointment.  But the State Department has weighed in, asking DeSaulnier’s campaign to remove the endorsement.

The U.S. State Department has asked 10th District Congressional candidate and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier to remove all references in his campaign materials to his endorsement from former congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who is now undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. State Department.

While a legal adviser to the U.S. State Department concludes that the endorsement broke no laws or policies, “Under Secretary Tauscher is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct. To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, on behalf of Undersecretary Tauscher, I have asked Senator DeSaulnier to remove all references in his campaign material of any endorsement she may have made,” wrote James Thessin, deputy legal adviser and designed agency ethics official.

The DeSaulnier campaign is fingering John Garamendi for complaining to the State Department about the use of Tauscher’s name.  Actually, the complaint was made by Jason Bezis, an individual who claims not to be affiliated with any campaign, but who apparently enjoys filing complaints with the State Department and the FEC (he filed one there against DeSaulnier’s campaign over a health care mailer).  It looks like the DeSaulnier campaign won’t change current materials already printed, but will consult the State Department “about what qualifies and what doesn’t under their request.”

I actually question whether this means as much as the DeSaulnier team seems to think, but their strategy all along has been to gather up local endorsements.

5 thoughts on “CA-10: DeSaulnier’s Endorsement Trouble”

  1. This should mean something to his campaign. I suspect that Mark has done a poll and knows that he is trailing and therefore will not release it. I also suspect that all those who endorsed him or who have given $ are largely unaware that he is not leading and is on track to garner the red ribbon not the blue one. He should have had the CDP endorsement locked down weeks ago… BUT SHOCKINGLY HE DIDN’T …this is also a very bad omen of things to come.  Pls advise if anyone is aware of a recent credible poll by his campaign….it is very odd that I have not seen one from the campaign of the anointed front runner.  

  2. Most activists (who are about the only people paying attention at this point) know that the party’s endorsement process doesn’t represent a true expression of popular opinion.  Even in a normal year, it represents the opinion of delegates to the state convention from the area, and this year not even that.  It’s common knowledge that all three major candidates gamed the system, getting their fellow electeds around the state to appoint supporters on CD 10 as their delegates for this one meeting.  Desaulnier knew the rules as well as anyone, and tried his best, but he couldn’t reach the goal line.  Sure seems to slow the bandwagon a bit.

  3. Several days in the news cycle reminding voters about Tauscher’s endorsement is a bad thing? Controversy makes news, and at the end of the day voters are reminded about the endorsement, not about whether the State Department thinks its kosher.

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