In an interesting development in the 2010 New York special Senate race, where appointed Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand is facing a primary challenge from Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Bill Clinton will now headline a fundraiser for Maloney, despite the extensive efforts by the Obama White House to clear the field for Gillibrand.
Interestingly, Bill previously did a fundraiser for Gillibrand herself, as he has done for many politicians who supported Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Both Gillibrand and Maloney supported Hillary during the 2008 primaries.
When asked for comment, Gillibrand spokesman Matt Canter instead pointed us over to a statement by an unnamed aide to Bill, who told PolitickerNY that this was not a shot against the incumbent: "The former president believes that Senator Gillibrand is doing a good job as senator and this type of thank-you event, and any other he may do, should not be read as an endorsement or un-endorsement."
The extensive press coverage, both local and national, that has surrounded this past Friday night's sheriff's raid on a fundraiser for Democratic House candidate Francine Busby (CA-50) seems to have had a real effect on the officials overseeing the case itself.
I just spoke with Christine Carlino, the long-time personal attorney for homeowner Shari Barman, who was arrested at the event, and she told me there could be some significance to the fact that the San Diego District Attorney's office is now personally involved in looking at the charges against Barman and a guest who was also arrested. (Note that Carlino is a civil attorney, not criminal, but she does still bring some local expertise.)
The key thing to understand here is that San Diego County is divided into several jurisdictional regions -- for example, Barman's home is in the North County region, as opposed to the city of San Diego itself, where the county's District Attorney is based.
Under routine circumstances, an arrest made in North County would stay with the North County prosecutor. But the county's D.A. in San Diego has taken over the case, which is out of the ordinary.
This doesn't really speak either way to whether charges will be dropped or dismissed. But what it could mean is that the D.A. might be aware of just how controversial this has become, and how important it is going forward to get this right.
Pressure from outside interest groups isn't just a liberal phenomenon, of course. The conservative group Americans for Prosperity has begun running ads targeting both conservative and vulnerable Democrats, warning of a government take over of the health care sector. Here's the version running in Montana, aimed at Sen. Max Baucus.
The ad is also running in 11 other states, bringing pressure to bear on Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Harry Reid (D-NV), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), It will air on both network and cable channels.
President Obama will be headed to New Jersey later this month, in order to campaign for Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in his tough re-election fight this year.
The event will be held at the main campus of Rutgers University, on July 16.
Polls have consistently shown that Obama is very popular in this blue state -- but Corzine is not, with low approval numbers and higher disapproval ratings. Corzine is currently trailing his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, and an appearance alongside the popular Obama could help boost his numbers and remind voters of the importance of voting for the Democratic brand.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) drew the ire of liberals and health care reform advocates this week by airing his objections to a public option. In an interview with the New Haven Independent, Lieberman said he's working with an informal group of Senate centrists he meets with regularly to move health care reform efforts without a public option.
As frustrating as that is for reform advocates, though, they're generally more concerned with public option foes and skeptics who serve on the committees with jurisdiction over health care legislation. On that score, progressive groups have launched ads against players such as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)--who sits on the Senate Finance Committee--and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)--who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Committee--for trying to block the provision (Hagan seems to have dropped much of her opposition). Lieberman isn't as poised as they are to weaken or kill the public option. At least for now.
As such, for the time being, reform advocates seem to be holding their fire. But that doesn't mean Lieberman won't ultimately become one of their targets.
Democratic Congressional candidate Francine Busby (CA-50) and her allies have been embarking on an extensive public relations campaign in the wake of a raid on a campaign house party by the San Diego Sheriff's Department -- due to a noise complaint that is believed to have come from a person who heckled the event -- which ended in multiple people being pepper-sprayed and the full complement of deputies, including a dog unit and helicopter, coming in to arrest one of the hostesses and a guest.
On Monday, three of the women held a press conference, blasting the arresting officer, Deputy Marshall G. Abbott. "He had a raged look in his eyes and his head was bobbing from side to side," said Kimberley Beatty, who said that she had called 911 to report that he "appeared to be out of control."
And last night, the San Diego ACLU put out a press release, which was forwarded to us by Busby herself, lambasting the Sheriff's Department for all manner of improper behavior here, and calling for greater transparency as the process of investigating this whole mess goes forward. The opening paragraph of the press release is essentially a dry narration of the reported events -- ending with an extraordinary closing sentence, emphasis ours:
On Friday, June 26, 2009, according to press reports and witness statements, a San Diego County Sheriff's deputy, responding to a noise complaint, entered the home of Shari Barman who was hosting a political gathering to support Francine Busby, a candidate for Congress. When the homeowner questioned why she had to provide her date of birth, the deputy grabbed her arm, put it behind her back, and brought her to the ground. Feeling intimidated by a group of mostly middle-aged women, he pepper-sprayed a number of guests and arrested Barman.
This morning, Politicopublished a story detailing an interesting flier apparently being passed around DC health care lobby circles: a dinner invitation from the Washington Post at the house of CEO and Publisher Katherine Weymouth, selling access to its news and editorial staff and top Obama officials for $25,000 to $250,000. A health care lobbyist passed the missive on to Politico staff because he felt "it's a conflict of interest for the paper to charge for access to, as the flier says, its 'health care reporting and editorial staff.'"
Two and a half hours after the story was published, executive editor Marcus Brauchli sent an internal memo entitled "Newsroom Independence," in which he stated that the news department will not be attending the dinner. The sentiment echoes the statement WaPo spokesperson Kris Coratti made to Politico:
The flier circulated this morning came out of a business division for conferences and events, and the newsroom was unaware of such communication. It went out before it was properly vetted, and this draft does not represent what the company's vision for these dinners are, which is meant to be an independent, policy-oriented event for newsmakers.
As written, the newsroom could not participate in an event like this.
Read the full text of Brauchli's memo and the original flier after the jump.
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Fast on the good news from the Congressional Budget Office, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has circulated its finalized language on the two key issues that had slowed progress on its health care reform bill to a crawl: The public option and the employer mandate. You can see the new language of the bill--if that sort of thing appeals to you--here (PDF).
HELP chairman Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and his chief deputy Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) sent a letter to committee colleague touting the provisions and urging them to support the full bill. You can read that letter here.
One reason for the delay has been the objections of Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC). I have a call out to her office to see if she's now on board with the public option.
Late update: Committee leaders seem confident that every Democrat will vote to move the bill forward. That would include Sen. Hagan.
I just got off the phone with Minnesota Republican state Rep. Marty Seifert, who recently stepped down from his position as state House Minority Leader to run for Governor, about a very important topic: What might happen if former Sen. Norm Coleman runs for the GOP nomination, too. And Seifert gave a sneak preview of what lines of attack Coleman will face from his intra-party rivals if he makes the race, as he's reportedly looking at.
Seifert struck a careful balance between praising Coleman, but also making clear that he himself won't step aside. "Well certainly, his name ID and the ability to raise money is gonna be there, but we're Republicans and we believe in the marketplace and choices," said Seifert. "So I'd say the more people in the race the better. I believe in a multiplicity of choices -- it's not the Politburo, it's the Republican Party."
As for what lines of argument Seifert might take with state Republican caucus-goers, to show that he's the better candidate: "I think my appeal is that I'm electable and that -- you know, the bottom line is, I love Norm as a person and as a public servant, but he lost to Al Franken, for goodness' sake."