Tag Archives: Kevin McCarthy

What does Kevin McCarthy’s Ascension Mean for California? HSR? Immigration?

Kevin McCarthy - CaricaturePotential new majority leader not normally in step with his home state’s leadership

Kevin McCarthy looks all but assured of assuming Eric Cantor’s old job as Majority Leader in the House. Raul Labrador is having troubles controlling his own state’s convention, let alone trying to wrangle votes for leadership, and there don’t appear to be any viable challengers. So, it appears that is just a matter of time until both the Majority and Minority Leaders are Californians.

Now, you might think that awesome for California. We’ll be flush with federal dollars for infrastructure and other development. Well, you may want to hold that thought. McCarthy is a Republican. In 2014. That means he must act like all federal programs are ridiculous and that states are awesome. Except California and our San Francisco values.

As I noted on the budget post below, McCarthy has been on the harshest HSR critics for years now. He does not like the project for a multitude of reasons. The cynical would say that it may have something to do with his overall chumminess with energy companies. And if you look at his energy policy, you won’t find too many disagreements with Big Oil. But if you ask him, it is about funding and protecting the California and federal budgets.

He aimed most of his ire at the bullet train project, which would receive $250 million in the next fiscal year and in subsequent years. The funds are 25% of revenues from the state’s cap-and-trade program, which collects fees on polluters.

“Time and again, the high-speed rail boondoggle has proven to be an unfeasible project that will put undue and damaging pressure on our state budget, ultimately hurting taxpayers,” McCarthy said in a statement. (LAT)

There area a multitude of other issues where he disagrees with a majority of the state. On water, he is hard-core in the agricultural corner, a stalwart for the farmers over fish people. And that isn’t really surprising considering his district. It is a strong GOP district, with Obama not managing to break 40% in either election.

But there are some other dynamics to his district. Check these demographics:

Race: 75.8% White, 6.8% Black, 5.2% Asian, 1.4% American Indian (National Percentages: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian, 0.9% American Indian)

Ethnicity: 64.6% Non-Hispanic, 35.4% Hispanic (National Percentages: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic) (Politics USA)

McCarthy has never been hard line anti-immigrant. To be honest, it is hard to find a big difference on that front from Cantor. As he has a large farmworker population, and many large agricultural operations that rely on them, he is in a tough position with his more reactionary colleagues when he has support like this:

“There is no reason for Congressman Kevin McCarthy, as leader, not to take leadership on this issue,” said immigration reform activist Arturo Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers. “Everyone will expect it and demand it. And we will step up all of our activities as a whole.” (CNN)

But McCarthy is a smart man. You don’t move up the ladder as quickly as he has if that wasn’t true. He sees the math, and understand the Republican predicament if they keep turning off Latino voters. In a district like his own, it would be hard to miss.

A few years ago, we thought we would have a great opportunity for reform. Republicans like Cantor and Boehner knew that the party had to change on the issue, or would continue to haunt them. But with Brat’s win over Cantor, will McCarthy continue to press the issue?

“I think his (McCarthy’s) views on immigration are similar to Cantor’s,” said Steven Camarota, director of research for the non-profit Center for Immigration Studies. “But after this week’s results, it seems much less likely he would push it. And even less likely still that he would move his members to push it.” (CNN

But McCarthy is capable of building coalitions, sometimes despite his own party’s reluctance. If he is willing to work with Boehner and Democrats, he could probably muster the votes. The question is how he deals with his own members. It is a question of threading a very, very fine needle. But it is a needle that he, and his party, need to thread. Electorally, Democrats would be better if he didn’t, but clearly comprehensive immigration reform would be the right course for the nation.

But on the plus side, he frequently says funny/incomprehensible things, so there’s that.

Darrell Issa’s Big Oil Road Show

Sign the petition telling Darrell Issa Frack No! before his hearing on Friday.

There seems to be a bit of confusion at Oversight Headquarters as to what Friday’s field hearing in Bakersfield is going to be about. Last Friday, the hearing was “Pathways To Energy Independence: Hydraulic Fracturing And Other New Technologies.” By Monday, it had changed to “Can New And Safe Oil Extraction Technologies Help Address Gas Prices?” And yesterday, it was back to “Pathways To Energy Independence: Hydraulic Fracturing And Other New Technologies.” The renewed focus comes with word that the witness lineup for Issa’s hearing will be Bakersfield’s Republican state assemblymember and four representatives from oil and gas companies, including major Republican donors and representatives from Big Oil front groups.

Back in December, Darrell Issa sent his now-infamous letter to corporate lobbyists and industry groups asking them to recommend hearings for the Oversight Committee. Among the recipients were Big Oil groups with benign names representing a wide range of notorious organizations. For example, the Independent Petroleum Association of America. In its response, the IPAA focused on rolling back EPA regulations and streamlining the permitting process for both offshore and onshore drilling. Who is the IPAA?

The IPAA receives funding from a wide range of oil companies, including major funding (tens of thousands dating back to at least 1991) from Larry Nichols, the Chairman and CEO of Devon Energy. Larry Nichols is a leading GOP moneyman in Oklahoma, personally donating out of his own pocket more than $380,000 over the years to fund Republican candidates, candidate committees, and affiliated PACs across the country. Separately, Devon Energy’s PAC last cycle contributed more than $300,000 to Republican campaigns and campaign committees, including $11,000 directly to Oversight Committee members.

And testifying at Darrell Issa’s hearing on increased oil drilling and fracking this Friday will be William Whitsitt, Devon Energy’s Executive Vice President for Public Affairs.

Next up on the witness list is Tupper Hull, a Vice President at the Western States Petroleum Association. Members of the WSPA include heavy hitters like BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Occidental, Shell, Tesoro and Venoco. It’s a pretty definitive who’s who list of Big Oil power players, not to mention a group that dropped more than $6 million combined on Prop 23 last year. It’s also a group that really likes writing checks to Darrell Issa, year over year, including:

Chevron $23,500

ConocoPhillips $5,500

ExxonMobil $22,000

Occidental $7,000

Valero $19,500

And that’s not even beginning to explore the money they’ve sunk into other committee members.

Taking the same dais will be Steve Layton, president of Bakersfield-based E&B Natural Resources Management Corp, an oil and gas drilling company operating in several states. According to its website, E&B is owned by the New York-based Galesi Group, whose principal and CEO is Francesco Galesi. Aside from the obvious vested interest for E&B in expanding drilling, Galesi is a major political donor who has leaned significantly Republican as time has gone by in several decades of political contributions, including support for Bob Dole, George W. Bush, and disgraced former Congressman John Sweeney.

Finally, Rock Zierman, Chief Executive Officer of the California Independent Petroleum Association. Last cycle, CIPA, which lists fracking as its top federal priority, was good for a $2,500 check to Issa and nearly $240,000 to California state candidates — 86% to Republicans, including $4,000 to fellow witness Asm. Shannon Grove.

Helping to organize Issa’s field hearing and scheduled to attend himself is California Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy is the Majority Whip for the Republicans in the House, and a huge friend of Big Oil. His campaign collected more than $100,000 from the Energy and Natural Resources sector last cycle, including big checks from Koch Industries, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, IPAA, Marathon Oil, Occidental Petroleum, Tesoro, and Valero. He’s also cashed $15,000 from CIPA.

There are also less direct ways that Big Oil is influencing Issa and the Oversight Committee. The National Petrochemical & Refiners Association also received Issa’s letter in December. Another umbrella group for a wide range of oil companies, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association has deeper pockets thanks to major backers. Founded before the 2006 cycle, the organization functions largely as a mouthpiece for Koch Industries and major oil companies like Valero and Tesoro who provide major funding each year. We know very well that these groups have a major vested interest in opening up the process for more oil drilling and rolling back environmental protections because just those three combined spent more than $6.5 million last cycle trying to pass Proposition 23 in California. The so-called “Dirty Energy” proposition sought to indefinitely suspend landmark environmental protections passed in 2006. Prop 23 lost by a 23% margin despite the efforts of these groups, but Big Oil isn’t giving up that easily.

Speaking of Koch Industries, they’ve been dutifully funding the Republican members of the Oversight Committee ahead of this Congress. Just in this past cycle, the Koch machine helped fund a dozen Republicans on the committee, including a combined $15,000 to Issa’s campaign. Other committee members receiving funding from the Kochtopus last cycle:

Patrick McHenry $10,000 (PAC)

John Mica $2,500

Connie Mack $7,500

Tim Walberg $10,000

Jim Lankford $5,000

Pat Meehan $7,500

Trey Gowdy $5,000

Dennis Ross $10,000

Frank Guinta $5,000

Blake Farenthold $5,000

Mike Kelly $5,000

But in fairness, it wasn’t just the Kochs who were busy funding committee members. Last year Valero dropped $10,000 into Darrell Issa’s campaign and spread another $10,000 between other committee Republicans.

Issa also last year sent a copy of his letter to the grandaddy of Big Oil lobbyist shops — The American Petroleum Institute — which also targeted an easier permitting process for oil drilling, complaints about the Endangered Species Act, EPA enforcement of existing environmental protections, and concern that climate change worries will get in the way of more drilling. API has been lobbying for the oil industry for more than 90 years, and has foregrounded the promotion of fracking as a policy priority. API has spent at least $3 million annually lobbying Congress since 2003, including $21.5 million since just 2008.

What doesn’t currently appear on the witness list is anyone who might speak to the risks involved in fracking, or mention that there has yet to be a comprehensive study of the potential environmental impacts. Nobody who will look at the major fracking spill last month in Pennsylvania as a warning, just like Darrell Issa still thinks the Gulf Oil Spill is an indication that we should increase offshore oil drilling. None of it makes any objective sense, but after collecting hundreds of thousands from Big Oil and the Koch Brothers, maybe it doesn’t matter anymore if what you say makes any sense.

I manage IssaWatch.com for the Courage Campaign. You can join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Primary Turnout: Might Be A Good Year to Compete Everywhere

(bump cause I like congressional and numbers – promoted by Lucas O’Connor)

Turnout from Tuesday’s primary by party.  Every district with a Republican leaning PVI plus Barbara Lee just for fun and comparison’s sake. Of the Republican leaning districts, Dem turnout was higher in 8 and close in several others.  Might be an interesting November. Just sayin.

Numbers on the flip.

Update: I should have mentioned in the first place, there are still no Democratic candidates in CA-02, CA-19, CA-22, or CA-25.  Turnout was dead even in the 19th and higher for Dems in the 25th, just for starters.

CA-02; R+13

Wally Herger (R)

R 80,090

D 70,563

CA-03; R+7

Dan Lungren (R)

R 70,544

D 80,070

CA-04; R+11

Open (R)

R 107,757

D 89,717

CA-09; D+38

Barbara Lee (D)

R 13,384

D 124,070

CA-11; R+3

Jerry McNerney (D)

R 69,766

D 81,650

CA-19; R+10

George Radanovich (R)

R 63,766

D 62,331

CA-21; R+13

Devin Nunes (R)

R 51,272

D 44,053

CA-22; R+16

Kevin McCarthy (R)

R 86,234

D 61,123

CA-24; R+5

Elton Gallegly (R)

R 78,422

D 82,293

CA-25; R+7

Buck McKeon (R)

R 60,837

D 64,048

CA-26; R+4

David Dreier (R)

R 73,144

D 74,934

CA-40; R+8

Ed Royce (R)

R 66,027

D 59,372

CA-41; R+9

Jerry Lewis (R)

R 68,055

D 59,833

CA-42; R+10

Gary Miller (R)

R 79,622

D 63,182

CA-44; R+6

Ken Calvert (R)

R 57,083

D 57,317

CA-45; R+3

Mary Bono (R)

R 53,635

D 59,067

CA-46; R+6

Dana Rohrabacher (R)

R 81,427

D 74,084

CA-48; R+8

John Campbell (R)

R 92,187

D 75,845

CA-49; R+10

Darrell Issa (R)

R 62,658

D 53,493

CA-50; R+5

Brian Bilbray (R)

R 78,489

D 82,358

CA-52; R+9

Open (R)

R 74,593

D 67,849

Nunes, McCarthy want to facilitate big bucks for dirty tricks

Buried inside this Politico article about Rudy Giuliani’s many ties to the Dirty Tricks initiative is this nugget:

There are actually two potential ballot initiatives. One would allocate California’s Electoral College votes proportionally, as opposed to the current winner-take-all format. The other affects redistricting.

Where they connect? California Republican Reps. Devin Nunes and Kevin O. McCarthy have asked the Federal Election Commission for a legal opinion on whether they can raise unlimited donations to help the redistricting initiative. But a money-and-politics watchdog group argues that would blow a hole in the 2002 campaign finance reform law that bans federal officeholders from soliciting such big checks – and pave the way for presidential contenders to urge their supporters to shovel money into the proposed Electoral College initiative.

Nunes and McCarthy may be the safest two GoOPers in the state.  They are acting as the battering rams to knock down the walls of campaign finance reform, not just for the Dirty Tricks initiative but a whole host of pernicious ballot measures.

In a way, they’re trying to retroactively immunize people like Rudy and Darrell Issa for their already-questionable efforts.  It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from soliciting for signatures, which both campaigns have done, to soliciting for money.

As for the bait and switch techniques being employed to gather signatures, there’s going to be a LOT more on this to come.