Tag Archives: Dan Dunmoyer

ACTION ALERT: Tell The Legislature To Keep The Pressure On The Governor

Frank Russo predictably delivered with great coverage of yesterday’s Assembly Natural Resources Committee hearing into political pressure from the Governor’s Office on the California Air Resources Board.  Just keep scrolling.  The most shocking piece of news that Russo highlights, which was also in a couple news articles on the subject, was that the Administration flack sent to give the Governor’s side of the story, Dan Skopec, ISN’T EVEN PART OF THE ADMINISTRATION ANYMORE.

Skopec no longer works for the Schwarzenegger Administration as of a week ago, and has started his own firm, “Climate & Energy Consulting” on Sacramento’s K Street Mall, to serve clients he described as “emerging technologies companies that will take advantage of the changes in energy that will result from climate policies.” Despite repeated questions from committee members, he refused to reveal who in the Administration had asked him to testify, who he had spoken to about the hearing, who had prepped him, and what he was told. Although he repeatedly testified about actions of the Schwarzenegger Administration using the word “we”, he later apologized for the use of that word which he is accustomed to use. He later admitted that he was not speaking for the Schwarzenegger Administration, but was basically there as a private citizen.

They sent a lobbyist to defend the Governor.  The hay that can be made from that decision is pretty clear.  And this part could be even more damning:

Dr. Sawyer (the former CARB chief), in his testimony, complimented Catherine Witherspoon for resigning from her position as the Executive Officer of CARB since she serves in that position at the pleasure of the board itself. Despite the desire of Susan Kennedy, Schwarzenegger’s Chief of Staff, to have her fired, this could not be accomplished directly by the Governor. Sawyer said he had been ordered to place this on the agenda and met with a subcommittee of the board only to find out that there was a consensus of fellow board members not to do so. It was feared that had Witherspoon remained in the position that individual board members would be removed until there was a majority willing to fire her.

Does this remind one of the Saturday massacre involving U.S. Attorney General Elliott Richardson and Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal of the Nixon Administration?

Schwarzenegger is taking a beating in both the local and national press, as well he should.  This reflects nothing more than an abuse of power.

I would like everyone reading this who lives in California to call their Assemblymember.  They need to know that they will be supported in this effort to rein in the Schwarzenegger Administration and ensure that oversight is undertaken and the laws of the state are met.  That includes subpoenas for top Schwarzenegger Administration officials if need be.  The Senate also needs to hear from you; they will be meeting next week in the Rules Committee to confirm the new chair of the Board, Mary Nichols.  That needs to be a legitimate confirmation hearing with tough questions about Nichols’ independence and how she will implement the Global Warmings Solution Act.  This is not a small issue; as I write, I’m watching the Live Earth concerts and seeing millions of people begging for action on climate change.  Now, here we have one of the only legitimate pieces of legislation in this country addressing the issue, and it’s being undermined by a Governor who wants to talk big on the environment while supporting his corporate buddies behind the scenes.

Information on the flip:

These are the Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee, who are particularly important.

Loni Hancock – Chair
Dem-14 (916) 319-2014  [email protected]
Julia Brownley
Dem-41 (916) 319-2041  [email protected]
Felipe Fuentes
Dem-39 (916) 319-2039  [email protected]
John Laird
Dem-27 (916) 319-2027  [email protected]
Lori Saldaña
Dem-76 (916) 319-2076  [email protected]

Here are the points of contact for the Senate Rules Committee:

Senator Don Perata (Chair)
[email protected]
(510) 286-1333.
Senator Gilbert Cedillo
Senator Alex Padilla
(818) 901-5588

It helps, of course, if you are a constituent (Asm. Brownley will be getting plenty of calls from me).  But even if you’re not, this is an important enough issue, one that speaks to the very structure of democracy in this state, that you should make a call.  And ALL of your representatives ought to know that you’re paying close attention to this issue and that you want results which are consistent with the law and the need to take a real and not a symbolic step in the fight against global warming.

CARBgate Hearing – Republicans chicken out, Democrats hold firm

The first couple reports about today’s Assembly Natural Resources Committee hearing into the politicization of the California Air Resources Board are starting to dribble out.  The SacBee described a set of angry lawmakers sking pointed questions and threatening that their probe into how the Governor is trying to manipulate the board into adopting his favored implementation of anti-global warming laws would continue.

Assembly Democrats said Friday they will continue investigating whether Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger exerted “illegal and improper pressure” on the California Air Resources Board after they were dissatisfied with answers given by two lower-level representatives of the governor at a Capitol hearing.

A full report on the flip:

The higher-ups sought for questioning, Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy and Cabinet Secretary Dan Dunmoyer, did not arrive, even though handy seat cards were placed at the table awaiting their presence.  Dan Skopec, the functionary who the Schwarzenegger Administration sent to testify, apparently grumbled and gainsayed his way through the hearing, much to the dismay of committee Democrats.  Matt Jones at CMR writes:

Skopec, who, in a former life, carried the water of Rep. Doug Ose (the former Sacramento area Congressman who defended the energy generators), was a disaster. He called the testimony of CARB officials “fiction,” and then refused to answer committee questions about the Governor’s staff review of his testimony. He also provoked the committee by calling the hearing political theater — not a wise move for someone who later said he may soon be a lobbyist before the legislature.

Skopec’s comments drew scorn from Assemblymember Jared Huffman of Marin County, who compared the Schwarzenegger Administration’s micromanagement of the Air Board to Karl Rove in the White House. LA Assemblymember Mike Feuer also lit into Skopec for failing to fully answer questions. Other members of the panel — including Santa Barbara Assemblymember Pedro Nava, Sacramento’s Dave Jones, and Mark DeSaulnier of Contra Costa County — also asked pointed questions and drew incomplete answers from the Administration officials.

Jones also mentioned that not one Republican on the committee even bothered to show up at the hearing.  They want no part of this controversy, probably because they don’t believe in such a thing as global warming to begin with.

The testimony of the two former members of the Air Resources Board, Robert Sawyer and Catherine Witherspoon, seemed to me to be fairly damaging.

Schwarzenegger fired Sawyer last month, and Witherspoon resigned Monday because she said the Governor’s Office had tried to control the air board to the benefit of polluters. In particular, Witherspoon said Schwarzenegger deputy chief of staff Dan Dunmoyer had routinely called her to question whether ARB policies would unduly hurt businesses in California.

Sawyer said the governor’s office has undermined the traditional independence of the air board, which has the reputation of being an apolitical, science-based body.

“The governor’s staff has the task of conveying policy directions from the governor to the Air Resources Board,” Sawyer said. “However, Gov. Schwarzenegger, your staff has interjected itself in a manner that has compromised the independence and integrity of the board.”

You know, it doesn’t matter whether or not legislators want the Governor’s support on healthcare reform, or the term limits initiative.  This cuts to the very heart of how the branches of government in California function.  The Assembly is standing up right now, so far, because they feel the presence would have no meaning if they pass laws that the Governor then can simply circumnavigate to arrive at his preferred solution.  In addition, the Assembly is not being permitted to conduct oversight with the actual executive staff involved in the incident.  If Dan Dunmoyer was calling CARB members and pressuring them to back off tough regulatory stances, then he must be brought before the committee to answer for that.  It’s quite simple. 

As for next steps, Loni Hancock, who’s an excellent progressive voice in the Assembly, is mulling over a variety of options.

Afterward, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, the committee chair, left open the possibility of seeking a subpoena of Kennedy and Dunmoyer to force them to answer committee questions. She also said lawmakers may pursue bills that enable air board appointees to serve for fixed terms rather than at the pleasure of the governor, giving board members more independence. Another possibility is to give state lawmakers appointment powers.

I don’t see how the Governor would sign bills taking away his authority, so to me, the subpoena route seems the only one that’s viable.  Democrats are also starting to fight this one in the court of public opinion, which to someone like the ego-driven Schwarzenegger is the only court that matters.

This should get very, very interesting.  Stay tuned…

CARBgate Update: Schwarzenegger’s Taking A Hit Nationally

I wouldn’t have expected the national media to pick up on the story of the Governor’s actions not matching his rhetoric when it comes to the environment, but the New York Times actually found some room for it in today’s paper.  They even highlight the governing-by-magazine-cover that has become a staple of this Administration.

In September, Mr. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, signed into law a landmark emissions-reduction measure and then drove a green bus during his easy, breezy re-election campaign. Since then, he has announced that he will buy offsets for his own personal carbon emissions, threatened to sue the Environmental Protection Agency over air quality and appeared on the cover of Newsweek spinning a globe on his finger […]

But the Governator’s eco-friendly reputation may have taken a dent over the last week in a messy battle over the leadership of the California Air Resources Board, a science-geared agency that has traditionally operated with considerable autonomy, even though its 11 members are political appointees. Its most visible mandate is the nuts and bolts of putting the emissions law, known as AB 32, into effect […]

“We have schizophrenia here,” said James Marston, a lobbyist for Environmental Defense who worked on passing the emissions law. “Even while we were doing AB 32, the Schwarzenegger administration was a little schizophrenic.” […]

“There’s an obvious difference to what he’s been saying and what his administration and other appointees have been doing,” said Don Perata, a Democrat who is president pro tempore of the State Senate. “There’s some real knuckle draggers over there.”


The replacement of the fired Robert Sawyer on the board with environmental stalwart Mary Nichols certainly reflects an effort by the Governor to stop the bleeding.  But the Democrats in the Assembly are holding a hearing on the Sawyer and Catherine Witherspoon resignations today, and when our man in Sacramento Frank Russo has any information we’ll bring it to you. 

Meanwhile, two top aides to Schwarzenegger, Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy and Cabinet Secretary Dan Dunmoyer, were asked to testify in the hearing, and the Governor refused their participation.  So committee Chair Loni Hancock is talking about subpoenas:

Assembly Democrats said they may need to subpoena two of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s aides, who are expected to rebuff an invitation to testify at an oversight hearing today on why two officials were forced from the state’s air resources board.

Berkeley Assemblywoman Loni Hancock sent letters to Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, and Cabinet Secretary Dan Dunmoyer, asking them to testify at the Natural Resources hearing she heads. Her committee is looking into accusations that the administration interfered with the board’s implementation of AB 32, the landmark law to curb greenhouse gases by 25 percent by 2020.

“If we don’t get the answers we hope and expect, the committee will explore the option of a subpoena,” said Steve Maviglio, deputy chief of staff for Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles.

Schwarzenegger’s aides had not replied to Hancock by Thursday, though a spokesman said they will send a representative of the administration to the hearing but not the two staff members.

Dan Walters thinks that this could be some kabuki theater, which would be interesting, because clearly there is a real conflict over implementation of the landmark Global Warming Solutions Act, and clearly neither side wants to give an inch.  The Governor has the upper hand because the Air Resources Board, which is tasked with implementation, is entirely appointed by him.  But the Legislature can undertake meaningful oversight like they are today, and use Schwarzenegger’s fascination with his own self-image as a lever to get the required solution.  This bit, incidentally, from Walters’ story, was remarkably reminiscent of another chief executive:

Núñez […] said he had wanted Kennedy and Dunmoyer to appear before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee today — asking first orally and then, late Tuesday, in the form of letters to the two gubernatorial aides. […]

Later, Schwarzenegger’s press secretary, Aaron McLear, said such an appearance “would be unprecedented,” which doesn’t square with the historical facts. Kennedy, who was then a high-ranking aide to Schwarzenegger’s predecessor, Democrat Gray Davis, testified before a legislative committee delving into a scandal involving a software contract with Oracle Corp. five years ago. In fact, the circumstances were somewhat similar, with critics alleging that Kennedy had interceded with a state agency for political reasons.

A press flack calling appearances before legislative committees “unprecedented” when the same person sought to testify has HERSELF appeared in the past?  Knock me over with a feather.