Oh Izzy. The latest fundraising efforts of Senator Isadore Hall III (D-Compton) reveals that only 8% of his campaign cash is coming from local supporters, while he is winning races with only 7% of registered voters voting for him. Representing one of the poorer districts in California, it shows his decisioin making and votes, wont be in the best interest of his constituents. The SFChronicle goes into detail as to who is funding Izzy’s campaign. Also explains why the city of Hawthorne was looking into getting in the casino business.
From the SFChronicle.com
SACRAMENTO — Around the Capitol they’re known as “juice committees” — the ones that oversee lucrative industries, allowing politicians to foster relationships that can lead to campaign cash.
One of the juiciest is responsible for regulating booze, cigarettes and gambling: the Committee on Governmental Organization, with 34 members in the Senate and Assembly. Its decisions affect profits for California’s gambling factions — cardrooms, racetracks and the Indian tribes that run casinos.
Now those businesses are bankrolling the political ambitions of the committee’s chairman, Sen. Isadore Hall, D-Compton (Los Angeles County).
Hall landed in the state Senate in December, following a special election in which just 7 percent of those registered turned out to vote. It was the latest in a long string of victories for Hall, who advanced from the school board in Compton to its City Council to the state Assembly. He represents one of California’s poorer Senate districts, where about 20 percent of residents live in poverty.
Hall had served less than three months in the state Senate when he announced plans to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro (Los Angeles County), who endorsed him. Through June, he’d raised twice as much money as his closest opponent, attorney Nanette Barragan.
As Hall works to build a campaign war chest for what’s likely to be a competitive election next year, just 8 percent of his donors have come from the district he seeks to represent.
The bulk of the rest reflect relationships he’s built as chairman of the Committee on Governmental Organization. More than one-third of the $369,000 Hall raised in the first six months of the year came from people tied to gambling businesses.
The donors include former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Willie Brown, a former Assembly speaker and current Chronicle columnist, both of whom have worked as consultants to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in his fight against online poker — an issue that has come before Hall’s committee repeatedly in recent years.
Also among Hall’s donors is pornography magnate Larry Flynt, who owns the Hustler Casino in Hall’s Senate district and pushed for a bill this year that would change a rule about casino ownership.
Sacramento lobbyists David Quintana and Steve Cruz, who represent casino-owning Indian tribes, and Robyn Black, who represents horse-racing interests, have also donated to Hall’s campaign. They routinely lobby bills in Hall’s committee and are forbidden by state law from contributing to a legislator’s state-level campaign. The law does not apply, however, to federal races.
Also donating to Hall are Las Vegas casino executives Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, whose company worked with a California tribe to plan a casino near Fresno with the help of a bill carried by Hall. Seven Indian tribes that run casinos, as well as owners of numerous cardrooms and horse-racing tracks, have also given money to the Hall campaign.
“They want to have access to him to have their position heard,” said Stacy Gordon Fisher, a political scientist who studied Sacramento’s juice committees as a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. “Over the long term they give him money, he hears them out. There’s not necessarily a quid pro quo, but a relationship is built.”
Asked about his fundraising, Hall said he didn’t want to talk about it while inside the state Capitol. He did not respond to subsequent follow-up inquiries.
Cardroom owners are supporting Hall’s congressional campaign because he’s “a champion for the industry,” whose support goes back to his experience in local government, said Jarhett Blonien, a lobbyist who represents several cardrooms.
“It’s not so much that they’re looking for favors — it’s that Isadore is their friend and they want to help him out,” Blonien said.
Black, the horse-racing lobbyist who gave $500 to Hall’s congressional campaign, said her donation is unrelated to the business she has before his committee. She pointed out that she has donated to several congressional campaigns across party lines.
“There are members that you get to know because you worked with them here in Sacramento and you just know they’re the kind of person you want representing our state,” Black said.
The message was the same from Quintana, the lobbyist for several casino-owning tribes, who gave $2,000 to Hall’s campaign: “I’ve seen him operate in Sacramento … and I think he would make a great congressman.”
‘A good investment’
Donors don’t necessarily get their way in Sacramento. Quintana, for example, lobbied against a bill Hall carried this year to expand the sports teams’ ability to host live raffles at their games. The bill passed the Legislature and is awaiting action from Gov. Jerry Brown.
“It’s not like he always has to represent their interests for this to be a good investment,” Gordon Fisher said. “Every once in a while, he might be a critical vote on a piece of legislation that’s important to them.”
CALmatters is a nonprofit journalism venture dedicated to explaining state policies and politics.