Greg Diamond has a lengthy post on the Orange Juice Blog last week effectively endorsing Joe Dunn for Congress in CD-46.
Democrats in Orange County are fortunate to have three strong candidates to replace Loretta Sanchez in the district that includes Anaheim, Orange and Santa Ana. Any one of the Democrats running is a better option than any one of the Republicans running. That’s just a plain and simple fact.
And there are several items about both former Senator Dunn and Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen in Diamond’s post that I agree with. But Mr. Diamond sells former Senator Lou Correa short on a number of fronts and demonstrates a disconnect with the voters of the congressional district these candidates seek to represent.
This blog has been accused of being unfair to Senator Dunn by his supporters and members of his campaign. I don’t think that is the case. I’ve met with him personally, we exchange emails regularly about issues in cybersecurity, and I like Senator Dunn. He’s a smart, nice guy. This blog runs every press release his campaign issues and we appreciate the text message from his team about a release they’ve sent so I can go looking for it, because many times, the email has gone to spam and not my in box. There is a standing invitation to discuss voting records over coffee that the campaign has yet to fulfill with a date, time and place.
For clarity, we’ll refer to each Democratic candidate by their first names moving forward: Bao, Joe and Lou.
In examining voting records, it’s the opinion of this blog that Lou’s record on the issues is one that best reflects the values and interests of the voters of CD-46 over that of every other candidate. We’ll get to the details shortly.
Lou served in the State Assembly in the 69th Assembly District for three terms starting in 1998. This was followed by two years on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the 1st District, and then Lou succeeded Joe in the California State Senate, representing the 34th District, in 2006 and again in 2010, leaving office in 2014.
Lou’s record reflects advances in healthcare for children, mental healthcare services, autism services, and lowering the cost of higher education for all California students. Lou’s been accused of voting against a middle class scholarship bill by various Joe supporters in social media and in blog comments; what these same supporters fail to mention is that there were *two* middle class scholarship bills – the one Lou voted against had a huge carve out that favored Big Tobacco which is why he voted against it. Lou voted for the second, much cleaner, Middle Class Scholarship Bill.
Critics often point to Lou’s vote against single payer healthcare in California, neglecting to mention that was, essentially, no public oversight for this measure and there was another exemption for Big Tobacco to not to pay into the plan. Lou has been a consistent supporter for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) often called “ObamaCare.”
Lou instituted programs such as Operation Kid Prints, that reached out to local schools to provide free finger printing and child safety packet information in case of an emergency for more than 50,000 kids in OC. Lou’s Young Senators Program, adopted by the California Senate Statewide, taught thousands of teenagers, from all walks of life about community service, teamwork, and leadership.
“I’ve never considered myself 100 percent on any issue,” said Lou in a short interview with TheLiberalOC. “I’m a proud Catholic and proud to see Pope Frances advocating for the poor, immigrants, equality and social justice. I was particularly proud of the Pope when he went to visit the wall that separates the US and Mexico.”
I attended April DPOC meeting and Joe’s campaign manager Carina Franck-Patone made a short speech about protecting reproductive choice and reminded DPOC members that Joe Dunn has a 100 percent record on reproductive choice. Nice speech, and hard to disagree with Joe’s clear record on that issue. But it’s one that’s shared with the other Democrats running for Congress in CD-46.
“I am Pro-Choice and I have always been Pro-Choice. I also support Planned Parenthood and believe in the importance of education birth control, and cancer screenings,” said Lou. “I would not support any attempts in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, as long as they keep providing health education and providing birth control. Beyond women’s healthcare, I believe government has a role to play in protecting women’s rights and expanding equality for women, including on pay equity and paid family leave.”
Now, there are a lot of things I agree with Mr. Diamond about Joe. He’d be a fantastic congressional investigator. I think most voters in CD-46 would be hard pressed to provide a correct answer to what exactly Joe did in investigating Enron in the late 1990s or how his investigation affected their lives in a meaningful way. I’m almost certain millennial voters don’t even know what the Enron case was all about. But that Congressional investigative skill isn’t what the residents of CD-46 want or need most from their Congressional representative. What they need is someone with a strong track record of working across party lines to get stuff done.
The House of Representatives is likely to remain Republican after November’s election. And Lou is the only candidate with a track record of working effectively across party lines as he did with Republicans when California faced the worst recession since the Great Depression along with record budget deficits; Lou cast votes for a temporary two-year tax increase, to keep California afloat.
What voters in CD-46 need is someone with a record towards supporting comprehensive immigration reform, access to higher education and keeping taxes on working families low.
Sorry, but Joe’s record on these issues doesn’t reflect the priorities of the District.
Joe opposed a drive for Voter Registration on Election Day in 2002. At the behest of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Joe voted to repeal the Driver’s License Law for Undocumented Immigrants in 2003. And he failed to support creating a “Living Wage Standard” in 2002 which could have helped many workers in his district. In that last example, Joe is more closely aligned with Republican Lynn Schott, who voted to repeal the Irvine Living Wage Ordinance last year, than with progressive Democrats.
When it comes to the Driver’s license issue, this comment in the LA Times in November 2003, “These are hate, wedge issues,” said Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers union and a member of the University of California Board of Regents, her voice cracking with emotion during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing where the Democratic retreat unfolded earlier in the afternoon. “I just want to ask Democrats to stand up for the people who stood up for you.” Lou was a “no” vote on repealing the driver’s licenses for the undocumented and stood up for immigrants here.
Since Mr. Diamond brought it up, Lou is not in favor of a fine for undocumented immigrants seeking citizenship. Bao isn’t either. Joe spoke in favor of a fine.
Additionally, Joe abstained on a vote for legislation to implement employment non-discrimination requirements which would affect policies for Latinos, Asians, Muslims, and LGBTQ workers. This is the same as a “no” vote and it was a bill supported by Lou in the state assembly. In supporting this bill, MALDEF stated, “we firmly believe that the citizens of California including protected classes would benefit greatly from the removal of discrepancies among protected classes in the statutes. Creating uniformity in the definition of protected classes will remove deficiencies in protection as well as any current confusion in the application and compliance of the relevant statutes.”
But even out of office, Joe’s record seems to be at odds with the voters of the 46th district. Here’s what we’ve got:
As CEO of the California Medical Association (CMA) Joe oversaw significant campaign contributions spent by CMA in support of Republicans over Democrats. Joe also personally campaigned for another conservative Republican over Democratic candidates for several offices.
- Joe supported Jack Sieglock, the Republican candidate for the 10th Assembly District. Alyson Huber, the Democrat in the race, won by less than 450 votes. Sieglock was a vocal proponent for building a new border wall, as “the first order of business” in very Trump-like fashion. While Joe was Executive Director of CMA, more than $50,000 in IEs was spent in a losing effort to elect Sieglock in 2008 in a race that was a top target for the Assembly Democrats. Joe was on the other side.
- Under Joe’s leadership, CMA spent nearly $60,000 supporting John McCann in the 2008 election. McCann opposed driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and advocated for English-only standards for public high school graduation. Joe was on the side of the Republicans.
- Under Joe’s leadership, CMA spent $25,000 on IEs backing Bill Berryhill, a Republican, who beat Democrat John Eisenhut by 4,000 votes out of over 136,000 cast. Berryhill opposed legislation to allow undocumented residents to apply for college financial aid.
- In 2008, Joe was an official member of Republican Kermit Marsh’s campaign committee along with Republicans Scott Baugh (former OC GOP Chair), Mark Bucher (co-author of the paycheck deception initiative Prop. 226) and Van Tran (former Assembly member in Little Saigon who ran against Loretta Sanchez in 2010). Marsh was seeking a seat as an OC trial court judge. Marsh was defeated and subsequently fined over $31,000 by the FPPC for failing to disclose campaign contributors. Marsh lost a race against Lou for OC Supervisor in 2004.
- Joe backed weak penalties for fraudulent immigration attorneys, which hurt residents of the district who have limited funds to get legal help to begin with.
We asked Joe’s campaign for details on Joe’s authority over these expenditures, and do not have a response.
Diamond’s take on Joe’s lawsuit against the California State Bar is a simple refile of the suit, and it’s really not that simple at all. Most of the suit has been dismissed and at best, Joe might achieve a partial victory on some points. But that is at best and will be decided after the primary is over.
On the issue of the “he is currently helping to form the most comprehensive institute on cybersecurity in the nation to protect individuals and companies from the increased threat of internet-based crimes and terrorism while ensuring individual privacy,” I’ve had this conversation with Joe myself. And it’s a topic I have considerable knowledge of through my business. The UCI endeavor, while laudable, is at least 10 years too late and is not unique in any sense.
There are considerable university-based cybersecurity initiatives at George Washington University, George Mason University, Boston University, Cal Poly Pomona, Carnegie Mellon, FIT, Fordham, Utica College, Johns Hopkins and others. The only thing I see is the UCI program seems more focused on policy rather than technology when it comes from distinctions of security and privacy. You cannot separate policy from the technology here. So when we talked about this last fall, I asked Joe if he knew what the Stuxnet virus was. He didn’t. Lou knew and so did Jordan Brandman while he was a candidate for Congress. I wasn’t expecting a comprehensive technical explanation, just an idea of if he knew what it was. Google it. Joe is aware of what Ransomware is and about a case where a police department actually paid criminal hackers to regain access to their network.
Mr. Diamond is far too generous about Joe’s role in exposing the sexual abuse by Catholic priests. The movie “Spotlight” was entirely about the Archdiocese of Boston and the story was first broken by The Patriot Ledger in Quincy with the Globe picking up the story and running with it afterwards. The Stockton case was likely listed in the end credits where similar cases came to the public light after the series was developed by the Globe’s investigative team but it’s not prominent in the movie at all. “Spotlight” was not about any case Joe was involved in, and most of the work Joe started on this issue was handed off to other attorneys after Joe was elected to the State Senate.
I’ll note, I did text Joe’s campaign Thursday midday asking for a phone call. They wrote back on Friday night and I responded Saturday with a question about Joe’s role within the CMA. I still haven’t heard back. We’re not exactly on the rapid response cycle with the campaign.
Additionally, I believe some members of Joe’s staff are ethically challenged for issuing an announcement in October 2015 claiming an additional $120,000 in donations received from October 1 through October 15 to claim an “overwhelming financial advantage” when the following reporting period fell short of that number. But I don’t know who to blame for this exactly. It was a move designed to scare off candidates. The claim that was announced wasn’t true and it was unethical to issue that news when they did. I asked Joe for the list when we met in October and he said I’d get in January; I told him then it was unethical to make that announcement. We moved to a different topic after that. To date, Joe trails Lou in fundraising and the vast majority of Dunn for Congress contributions are from lawyers from all over the country, not from voters in the District.
I’ll note I followed the Dunn campaign’s insistence to look at voting records, and, as Mr. Diamond points out, about there’s a part of a legislators job “that does not always show up in votes: he does a lousy job of putting his constituents’ interests first. Floor votes are by and large the show that is put on for the public at the end of the production; the real fighting comes earlier, both in committees and not-yet-even-in-committees.” In the case of Joe, as the head of CMA, the organization under his leadership significantly contributed to IEs benefitting candidates who advocate against things that might actually help voters and residents of CD-46 and the Democratic Party.
CD-46 is a district that is Democratic-majority. It is not essentially a progressive majority district or a liberal one, but’s it’s a blue one and the focus needs to be on keeping it Democratic. Loretta Sanchez has a solid reputation in her 20 years in Congress as a moderate Blue Dog Democrat who’s been right on issues like the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. She’s been on the right side of the fight for equality, wage issues, and immigration. We need someone like her in Congress.
It is the opinion of this writer that the candidate who best exemplifies the legacy of Loretta Sanchez, and who’s record reflects the needs and wants of the people of CD-46 is Lou Correa.