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You Tell Us: What do You Think of Huffman's Donations from Lobbyists?

Federal rules allow Sonoma lobbyist Darius Anderson to contribute to Huffman's congressional run, even though he's barred at a state level

When he ran for State Assembly, Jared Huffman was unable to take campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Yet he has already accepted two pledges from state lobbyists for his congressional campaign, including a $4,999 pledge from Sonoma lobbyist Darius Anderson, the Sacramento Bee is reporting.

The practice comes under a legal loophole for Huffman, who represents southern Sonoma County in California State Assembly District 6 that allows federal law to dictate campaign contributions, even if the candidate is a seated official. State law bars lobbyists from contributing to state campaigns, under the theory that such donations create a “pay-to-play” influence on elected officials. However, federal law holds no such restriction, even if candidates are still seated in local office.

The inconsistency is a problem according Meredith McGehee, an expert in campaign finance law with the Campaign Legal Center

"At the state level, the message is, 'We think these contributions tend to be corrupting when they're given to state employees.' But somehow when they're given to a federal candidate, they're not?," McGehee told the Bee.

If Huffman, or other officials who take funds from lobbyists, is not elected, or chooses not to run, the donations raise concerns that politicians may be tied to lobbyists when vote locally.

Currently, Huffman is , with $415,974 raised for his campaign; lobbyists contributed just under $6,000. Darius Anderson, the Sonoma-based owner of Platinum Advisors, has donated over $99,000 to federal campaigns, according to the Bee.

In 2010, Anderson shelled out $500,000 to the State of New York to settle a corruption probe from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who was investigating claims that financial workers paid off officials to win New York state pension investments.

But Huffman is taking heat from Norman Solomon, a West Marin anti-war activist and author running against Huffman for the North Coast Congressional District seat, who called on Huffman to return the funds.

"We deserve better," said Solomon in a release. "He can start by returning all lobbyist contributions today and refusing any lobbyist money in the future."

Federal law is split on the subject: similar bans in Connecticut and North Carolina were challenged last year, with opposite outcomes. (Courts struck down Connecticut's legislation, yet upheld North Carolina's ban, saying it was a tool for preventing corruption.)

What do you think of the practice? Should California law be shaped more like the federal rule, or does the federal stance need a change? And should Huffman answer Solomon's call to return the money?

Allen in RP January 20, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Do you honestly think Solomon would vote any differently? Come on! He's a liberal's liberal.
Stinky February 09, 2012 at 07:39 PM
*Looking for the "agree" button here*
Stinky February 09, 2012 at 07:43 PM
But Huffman is the nincompoop who tried the regulate lightbulb sales! He most certainly does NOT belong in congress.
Eleanor Sluis February 09, 2012 at 08:37 PM
When labor unions and all of the Chambers of Commerce work towards increasing growth of businesses and jobs without lobbying what would the change look like? One Bay Area/ Housing (ABAG)/Transportation (MTC) groups are consulted by California Builders Assoc. as to where housing should go in the future. Who should be the consultants in Sacramento and in the Bay Area? Novato is indebted to the Chamber by a contract to give 10% of hotel taxes, about $90,000 a year, for its business interests. In turn, the Chamber only supports those who agree with its taking the money. Women’s groups, religious, and other non-profit groups have lobbyists for a share of Federal and State tax dollars to help provide for victims, women, minorities, and children. Where is the line drawn? Watchdog organizations such as Civil Grand Juries, oversight committees and tax groups can help elucidate the issues. There is no 100% right or wrong in decision-making. One candidate cannot make changes alone; the public can choose to participate in making the best decision they can in a certain period. This is where top-notch government employees are needed to provide direction in a less political framework and more in a social/economic/ environmental response to local needs.
The Happy Medium May 17, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Jared has a longstanding record in representing environmental concerns and people before profits. According to a biography on the institute’s Internet site, Anderson “is widely recognized as one of California’s most effective political strategists and fundraisers” and “continues to advise many of California’s highest-ranking political and democratic leaders,” including Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Los Angeles corporate executives Ron Burkle and Eli Broad, he has not been accused of any wrongdoing in any state. He handles more money than most people reading this paper could imagine without eyeballs rolling. Personally this seems just another ploy of Norm to waste time pointing fingers to try to find dirt on others instead of focusing on an actual platform to rectify any of the concerns we all have. He is no doubt good pointing out what is wrong, but does he have anything good to implement other than broad statements verses viable solutions? Some Soloman supporters say, "What do you think of Jared NOW!" But typical of most Norm supporters I find them to be some of the most patriotic well-meaning but don't look too deeply into the fact that Norm's politics are what pundits in D.C. call "Belling The Cat". He just has good sound bytes. He has no clue how to fund what needs to be done. If Norm really wanted to be effective he would TAKE THE MONEY and use it HOW HE SEES FIT, but he has no vision/plan - his approache of bravado and principles are ineffective.

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