Entries in California (49)


Obama Administration Joins Legal Fight Against Calif. Gay Marriage Ban

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Justice filed a brief Thursday in the case of a controversial California ballot initiative that defined marriage as between one man and one woman, asking the Supreme Court to affirm a lower court decision that struck down the measure, known as Proposition 8.

The brief marks the first time that the Obama administration has come out in court against Prop 8.

"The exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage does not substantially further any important governmental interest. Proposition 8 thus violates equal protection," wrote Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. in a "friend of the court" brief filed in favor of gay and lesbian couples challenging Prop 8.

Referring to proponents of the voter-approved measure who are defending it in court, Verrilli wrote, "Petitioners contend that Proposition 8 serves an interest in returning the issue of marriage to the democratic process, but use of a voter initiative to promote democratic self-governance cannot save a law like Proposition 8 that would otherwise violate equal protection."

But Thomas Peters, communications director for the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage, invoked California's voters in saying it expected the court to uphold the law.

"NOM expects the Supreme Court to exonerate the votes of over 7 million Californians to protect marriage," said Peters, whose group is not the one arguing for Prop 8 in court. "The president is clearly fulfilling a campaign promise to wealthy gay marriage donors. There is no right to redefine marriage in our Constitution."

The Obama administration brief noted that California extends all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to gay and lesbians, but forbids them the designation of "marriage."

That circumstance, "particularly undermines the justifications for Proposition 8," Verrilli wrote.

"The brief pays closest attention to California and the other seven states that grant same-sex couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage but insist on denying them the favored name," said Jane S. Schacter, a professor at Stanford Law School. "But it advocates that the court adopt a much tougher, more skeptical approach to any state law that denies same-sex couples the right to marry."

"That approach is what lawyers call 'heightened scrutiny,'" she added, "and if it were faithfully applied to all state laws banning same-sex marriage, it would result in the invalidation of those laws. The administration's brief provides a blueprint for a national right-to-marriage equality, even though it does not advocate that in express terms."

Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor of law at American University of Law, called it the, "tip of a much larger anti-discrimination iceberg."

According to the brief, Vladeck said, "states can't discriminate against gays without a really strong reason -- not just with respect to marriage, but adoption, employment, benefits and so on."

Today, 39 states have laws restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples. This number includes voter-approved constitutional amendments in 30 states barring same sex marriage. Nine states allow gay marriage.

"The brief filed by the solicitor general is a powerful statement that Proposition 8 cannot be squared with the principles of equality upon which this nation was founded," said Adam Umhoefer executive director of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group behind the challenge of Prop 8.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama Jokes About His Debate Performance

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- President Obama got in on the act Sunday night, joining a long line of commentators and comedians who have poked fun at his lackluster debate performance last week.

Speaking to 6,000 supporters at the star-studded “30 Days to Victory” gala at the Nokia Theatre, Obama praised the performers that came before him, including Jon Bon Jovi, Earth Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry and Jennifer Hudson.

“They just perform flawlessly, night after night,” he said.  “I can’t always say the same.”

Obama quickly launched into his standard stump speech, but later reminisced about his 2008 campaign, admitting he had made some mistakes and “goofed up” at times, but that “the American people carried us forward.”

As he enters the final stretch to Election Day, the president is spending two days fundraising on the West Coast, where he is expected to rake in at least $9.5 million for his campaign coffers.

Earlier Sunday night, Obama spent more than two hours at an intimate “thank you event” for a group of 12 donors and former President Bill Clinton at the home of Hollywood producer and DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The president was scheduled to cap his night with a glitzy $25,000 per person dinner with 150 supporters at celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s WP24 restaurant.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Roseanne Barr to Run Presidential Campaign Ads in California

Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic(SAN FRANCISCO) -- One presidential candidate is buying television airtime in California, but it’s not Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.

It’s former sitcom star Roseanne Barr, who is running as the Peace and Freedom Party’s presidential candidate.

Media tracking sources tell ABC News that Barr is spending $4,900 to run television ads in the San Francisco Bay Area from Oct. 9 through Oct. 16. She’s purchased time on cable stations like CNN, MSNBC, TBS, the Country Music Channel and Comedy Central.

Solidly-Democratic California typically does not get much action on the TV airwaves from the major party presidential candidates.

No word yet on what the ad will look like, but here’s a clue:  Barr is running mostly on a one-issue campaign platform -- legalizing marijuana.

“Thank you for breaking through your mind control programming and having some free thought,” she told a crowd at an Oakland, Calif. marijuana dispensary earlier this month. “Marijuana really does help you break through that and remember what is important.”

Barr captured the Peace and Freedom Party’s presidential nomination in August and chose anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan as her running mate. She originally competed for the Green Party nomination, but lost that bid.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Attorney General ‘Superstitious’ About Presidential Talk

ABC News(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- California Attorney General Kamala Harris is a major “first” for her position: She’s the first woman, the first black person and the first South Asian to be attorney general of the Golden State.

She’s a national co-chair for President Obama’s re-election bid, and with her star on the rise, some have hinted she could one day be the first female president herself.

But Tuesday on the ABC News and Yahoo! News convention live stream, Harris told ABC’s Amy Walter and Rick Klein she’s not getting carried away with all that presidential talk just yet.

“I am completely focused on what’s right in front of me, for a number of reasons,” Harris said.  “One, I think life is too short.  You have to really enjoy what you’re doing today.”

“I’m also a little superstitious,” she continued.  “You know, you concentrate on that thing out there, and then you’re gonna trip over the thing in front of you.”

When asked if we should expect to see her in Iowa or New Hampshire soon, Harris played coy.

“Who knows where we’re going to be a year from now,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


House Dem Laura Richardson Fined $10K for Violating House Rules

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- California Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson has agreed to be reprimanded by the House of Representatives and fined $10,000 for violating House rules. Richardson used official resources for her 2010 re-election campaign and obstructed the Ethics committee’s investigation into her actions.
The committee recommended that the full House reprimand Richardson, who is serving her third term in the lower chamber. A vote on reprimand could occur before the House leaves for a five-week recess, although Thursday’s floor schedule has not been announced yet. The committee recommended the punishment in a report posted on its website.
The year-long investigation, "unanimously concluded that there was substantial reason to believe that Representative Laura Richardson violated the Purpose improperly using House resources for campaign, personal, and nonofficial purposes; by requiring or compelling her official staff to perform campaign work, and by obstructing the investigation of the Committee and the [Investigative Subcommittee] through the alteration or destruction of evidence, the deliberate failure to produce documents responsive to requests for information and a subpoena, and attempting to influence the testimony of witnesses."
"Representative Richardson's submission continues the approach she has taken in this matter from the outset: an utter absence of true remorse for her misuse of official resources and, equally as significant, for what she has put her staff through, as well as a near total deflection of responsibility for this matter," the report stated.
According to the report, Richardson ordered a staff member, "to go to her opponent's campaign office and volunteer to assist her opponent's campaign, using a fictitious name, for the purpose of gathering information including fliers and leaflets from that opponent."
This fall, Richardson is facing fellow incumbent Democrat, Freshman Janice Hahn, in a newly drawn district in the Golden State. Hahn defeated Richardson in a primary earlier this summer, but the duo will compete again this fall in a head-to-head race. The committee also, "unanimously agreed to strongly discourage Representative Richardson from permitting any of her official staff to perform work on her campaign." If a staffer chooses to work on Richardson’s campaign, the aide will be required to sign a waiver asserting that the work will be provided voluntarily, not by the order of the congresswoman.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Puts Partisanship Aside in Wake of Colorado Shooting

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Mitt Romney Sunday evening pledged to be “less partisan” at a high-dollar fundraiser, the first he’s attended since the Colorado shooting that claimed 12 lives, telling a group of about 250 supporters that he would trade his usual jabs at the president for a renewed focus on his own vision for America.

“I will note that my remarks here today will not be as partisan as normal and instead I am going to talk about my vision for the country, in part keeping with the seriousness and the thoughts of the day,” Romney said at the event held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

“We obviously have heavy hearts,” Romney said, referring to the aftermath of last week’s deadly shooting.  “It is a reminder of loss, a loss of young minds and youthful voices and souring spirits lost senselessly and thoughtlessly.  We turn to a power greater than our own to understand purpose and if not to understand at least to be able to soothe the wounds of those who have been so seriously hurt.”

Romney, whose campaign has pulled advertising from the Colorado airwaves since the tragedy, dedicated a previously scheduled campaign event in New Hampshire on Friday to a statement on the incident, forgoing his regular stump speech and instead offering his condolences.

On Sunday evening, the event began with a moment of silence, and Romney offered his approval of President Obama’s decision to visit families in Aurora, Colo., earlier Sunday.

“I appreciate you convening a moment of silence, our hearts are with the many people who have lost loved ones in Colorado and other places, but particularly we are thinking of the people in Aurora, Colorado and the tragedy that occurred there, the senseless killing there,” said Romney.  “I know the president will be there before he’ll be here in San Francisco visiting with families and the victims, which is the right thing for the president to be doing on this day.  I appreciate that.”

Romney’s first campaign event is scheduled for Monday, where he will hold a small business roundtable in Costa Mesa, Calif.  Obama will also get back on the stump Monday, campaigning in Nevada and California.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Anthony Sanchez: California Official Caught on Video Allegedly Beating Stepson

ABC News (NEW YORK) -- A California man who was elected to direct a California water agency was arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse after a neighbor caught him on video beating his stepson.

The video shows Anthony Sanchez, 34, playing catch with his stepson. When it appears the boy drops the baseball, Sanchez approaches and allegedly whips him with his belt.

An outraged neighbor, Oscar Lopez, filmed the incident from inside his home and knew he had to step in.

“That’s enough. I’m having a (expletive) problem with you for beating the (expletive) out of him because he won’t catch the damn ball,” Lopez tells the angry stepfather.

Sanchez asks if he knows his son.

“I don’t know your son but I’m watching you. I’m a (expletive) father too,” Lopez says.

“Why don’t you come over here and teach me?” Sanchez replies.

Lopez posted the video online and gave it to authorities. Sanchez, who is the director of the Imperial Irrigation District, turned himself in to authorities on Friday and posted a $100,000 bond.

An attorney for Sanchez acknowledged the video is disturbing to watch but urged people to wait until more details are revealed instead of reaching conclusions.

But Lopez said he knew what he saw and was glad he stopped the abuse.

“You don’t have to be a police officer to stop something,” he said. “Just speak up.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Heads West for Campaign Fundraisers

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama heads west on Wednesday for yet another round of star-studded, high-dollar campaign fundraisers in California, the state that’s been most generous to his re-election campaign.

Obama’s trip will be his fourth to the Golden State this year -- tying New York as his most visited state outside the greater Washington, D.C., area.  The president was most recently in the San Jose, Calif., area two weeks ago.

The swing also comes as Obama faces criticism in some corners for the number of high-profile fundraisers he's held with Hollywood and Wall Street elites as many Americans are struggling economically.  Obama held a trio of events Monday in New York City with Jon Bon Jovi and Bill Clinton, and he has planned events next week with Vogue editor Anna Wintour and actress Sarah Jessica Parker.

On his 24-hour visit Wednesday into Thursday, Obama will attend five events -- two in San Francisco and three in Los Angeles -- that will include more hobnobbing with the rich and famous.  The largest event, an LGBT supporters gala at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, includes talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and Glee singer Darren Criss.

The events will raise at least $5.4 million combined for the Obama Victory Fund, according to figures provided by the Obama campaign.

Obama’s first stop is San Francisco and the Landmark at One Market, where he hosts a roundtable discussion closed to the press with 25 supporters who each paid $35,800 for face time, a campaign official said.  He will then address a $5,000-per-plate luncheon at the Julia Morgan Ballroom with 250 fans.

In the afternoon, Obama heads to Los Angeles for two evening events aimed at the gay and lesbian community.

A crowd of 600 is expected for a glitzy LGBT Leadership Council Gala, for which tickets cost $1,250+ per person.  The president will later have dinner at a private residence with 70 guests, who each paid $25,000 to attend, according to the campaign.

After an overnight in L.A., Obama will hold a $2,500-a-head fundraising breakfast Thursday morning at a private residence in View Park, Calif., with 300 supporters, officials said.

Proceeds from all events are expected to flow to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.

California remains the top state contributing to Obama’s re-election effort, accounting for roughly 20 percent of all contributions so far, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


California Split on Proposition 29 to Raise Tax on Cigarettes

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- Proposition 29, California’s statewide referendum to raise the tax on cigarettes by $1 per by pack, currently has voters evenly divided.

With roughly 34 percent of precincts reporting, Californians were split down the middle -- with 50.4 percent favoring the tax and 49.6 percent opposing.

California has not raised taxes on cigarettes in 14 years.  Currently the cigarette tax in the state is 87 cents, below the national average of $1.46, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

It’s estimated that if passed the tax would raise $735 million per year, according to the nonpartisan California Legislative Analyst’s Office.  That amount will likely decrease in time, as more smokers are expected to quit the habit because of the cost increase.

However, that money would not go towards eliminating some of the state’s $16 billion deficit.  Instead, the proceeds would fund cancer research.

The ballot measure has drawn a lot of financial attention leading up to Tuesday’s vote.  Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds have spent close to $46 million in ads opposing the hike.

On the pro-hike side, anti-tobacco advocates haven’t spent as much -- around $3 million on advertising -- but the referendum had high profile support from people like Lance Armstrong and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who donated $500,000 to the cause.

The vote was expected to be close, as recent polling had shown voters favoring the measure by a narrow majority.  The close results signal a sizable decrease in support over the past several months, when a solid majority of voters favored Prop 29, polling showed.

The drop in support is likely due, in part, to the tobacco industry ad blitz.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rep. Sherman Tops Rep. Berman in California Dem Primary

bradsherman [dot] house [dot] gov(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- In California’s most competitive Democrat vs. Democrat primary, Brad Sherman has landed the first punch.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Rep. Sherman topped Rep. Howard Berman by 42 percent to 32 percent in their top-two primary for California’s newly drawn 30th Congressional District in the Los Angeles area.

Both will appear on the ballot in November, thanks to California’s primary system, in which the top two candidates advance, regardless of party.

The race is a caricature of legislative redistricting’s political consequences.  After the 2010 Census and redistricting process, California’s new legislative map forced these two relatively longstanding -- and politically similar -- Democrats to run against each other for a newly drawn Los Angeles-area district, after holding neighboring congressional seats and voting with each other often on Democratic legislation.

Berman, who has served in Congress since 1983, is the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  Sherman has served since 1997. They agree on nearly every broad issue, a fact highlighted by a debate performance in which they effectively paraphrased each other’s stances.

More notable for a race between two similar candidates, even in as expensive a media market as Los Angeles, their campaigns have spent a combined $5.7 million trying to sway voters, according to Federal Election Commission filings through May 16.

That total will grow as we approach November with Sherman rating as the favorite after Tuesday’s primary vote.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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