Steel: Growing Antisemitism Among Democrats Is Creating a Political Crisis

The horrific terrorist attacks of October 7th, 2023, should have inspired a moment of bipartisan unity in Washington, D.C.

Republican Mike Johnson’s (R-LA) first act as the new Speaker of the House was a floor vote in favor of a congressional resolution expressing explicit support for Israel and condemning Hamas for the deadliest attack against Jews since the Holocaust. Sadly, too many Democrats responded with equivocation, talk of “both sides,” and demands for a ceasefire.

Clearly there is steep division within the Democratic Party over Israel. Traditional Democrats stand firm for Israel. 22 House Democrats voted to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib for her rhetoric against Israel.

Worryingly, there is an emerging anti-Israel , even antisemitic is growing among Democrats. The AP-NORC Center poll reports that nearly half of Democrats disapprove of how President Biden is handling the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Obvious and widespread antisemitism was unthinkable six weeks ago. Every day, throughout the world, we are hearings phrases not heard since World War II. Many long-time Democrats are extremely concerned with their party.

“Last night, 15 of my Democratic colleagues voted AGAINST standing with our ally Israel and condemning Hamas terrorists who brutally murdered, raped, and kidnapped babies, children, men, women, and elderly, including Americans,” Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), wrote on X (Twitter). “They are despicable and do not speak for our party.”

Despicable Democrats deserve to be called out for the growing antisemitism within the modern leftist coalition. In the immediate aftermath of October 7th, numerous progressive activist groups, including college Democratic clubs, chapters of the Democratic Socialists for America, the Oakland teachers union, and members of Black Lives Matter celebrated the terrorist attacks. In a since-deleted tweet, BLM Chicago declared, “I stand with Palestine,” accompanied by an image of a Hamas paraglider.

Many Jewish Americans no longer feel welcome in a Democratic Party, which has long tolerated antisemitic hate. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) rose to national prominence as she repeated antisemitic tropes, including her past statement that “Israel has hypnotized the world.” She hasn’t been banished to political obscurity. Democrats have hailed her as a progressive icon.

Most shamefully, fellow progressive Democrat Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI) continues to defend the antisemitic slogan “from the river to the sea,” which calls for the eradication of Israel. Rather than apologize or express remorse, Tlaib has only grown more emboldened. “We will remember in 2024,” she threatened, in reference to the 2024 presidential election. (Republican criticism led to Tlaib’s formal congressional censure.)

Democrats see Arab Americans as key voters in the battleground states of Pennsylvania and Michigan, which Biden barely won in 2020. That explains why, in the face of despicable terrorist attacks against Israel, many Democrats have embraced the callous and calculating “both sides are to blame” talking point.

President Biden said he “thoroughly understands the emotions, both on the Palestinian side of this argument and on the Jewish side of the argument.” Less than a week after the terrorist attacks of October 7th, 55 congressional Democrats signed a letter to President Biden that painted Israel as the aggressor, accused Israel of violating international law, condemned the Israel Defense Forces for its “complete siege of Gaza,” and called for “a humanitarian corridor” to bring aid into Gaza.

Anti-Israeli sentiments are now mainstream among Democrats. This spring, the nonpartisan Gallup survey company found that, by a double-digit margin, Democrats sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis when assessing the conflict in the Middle East. In contrast, according to the same survey, nearly eight in ten Republicans are allied with Israel.

“Increasingly, Jews are being forced to choose between their Jewish roots and their traditionally leftist political orientation,” observes Joel Kotkin, the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. “Many of those expressing support for Hamas’s actions, and opposition to any strong Israeli response, come from the left.”

As Democrats turn their back on Israel, Jewish Americans are realizing there is an alternative. In January, the Republican National Committee unanimously approved a resolution to formally condemn, denounce, censure and oppose antisemitism in all its forms. Congressional Republicans have unequivocally backed Israel’s right to self-defense, and fully funded military assistance in Israel’s battle to defeat Hamas.

Click here to read that the full article in BreitbartCA

How scammers are using utilities to steal from customers

Southern California Edison says scammers have stolen $229,000 from customers this year

Scammers are posing as utility companies such as Southern California Edison and sending fake text messages to gain customer information and demand payments, SCE said, and the utility is trying to raise awareness to avoid future theft.

Over 2,700 reported cases of utility scams resulted in $229,000 of losses from customers so far this year, Southern California Edison said in a statement issued ahead of Utility Scam Awareness Day on Wednesday, Nov. 15. SCE says scammers are especially active during the holidays.

Scammers may threaten disconnection and demand immediate payment as a way of catching residents off guard, said Gabriela Ornelas, media relations advisor for SCE.

“It takes one moment, just one distraction or lack of attention, and anyone can fall victim to these scams,” Ornelas said. “These scammers target across the spectrum.”

SCE will not text customers unless they have signed up for notifications and will not use barcodes in their text messages, Ornelas added. Scammers will also send spam emails disguised with fake email addresses, logos, trademarks and website links to give the appearance of legitimacy, according to SCE’s statement.

“The best method of prevention is education,” Ornelas said. “We try our best to inform our customers on what to look out for.”

Ornelas said a one-time bill assistance is available when a customer reports a case and other support programs are available.

While the SCE collects a record of the reported scams, the information is not passed along to authorities directly from the utility. Customers should also report the scams to local authorities as well, Ornelas said.

SCE provided additional warnings to the public in their statement.

  • SCE will never demand payment or credit card information over the phone
  • SCE does not take prepaid Visa cards, Bitcoin or Cash apps, like Zelle
  • SCE will not text you for payment via barcode
  • SCE will not threaten to remove your meter
  • SCE does not have a “Disconnection Department”

Click here to read the full article in the Press Enterprise

Can a Democrat not named Katie Porter win her congressional swing seat?

Democrats Dave Min and Joanna Weiss are waging a heated battle over who is more electable in a purpling Orange County.

LOS ANGELES — Rep. Katie Porter has been a bright spot for Democrats as they try to claim territory in Orange County, California’s historic bastion of conservatism. But even with a nearly $30 million campaign war chest and a gift for turning congressional hearings into viral takedowns, she barely won reelection last year.

Now, with Porter vacating the seat to run for Senate, Democrats are torn between two candidates. Each represents a key constituency that could help keep the district blue absent her star power: Asian Americans and anti-Trump suburban women.

The answer to whether a Democrat not named Katie Porter — without her national profile or piles of campaign cash — can win in southern California’s 47th congressional district will echo far beyond Orange County. It could very well determine the balance of power in the House.

The contest between Democrats Dave Min and Joanna Weiss has become even more charged since Min, the early Democratic favorite, was arrested on drunken driving charges in May after running a red light. (Min called the incident “the worst mistake of my life.”) As Democrats in California and Washington argue about whether picking Min is too politically risky, the Republican who narrowly lost to Porter last year is salivating at another shot to flip the seat.

“Our suspicion is they will have come through a fairly bloody primary process,” GOP candidate Scott Baugh said of whoever emerges as the Democrat candidate in the general election.

The left began agonizing over the district as soon as Porter decided in January to run for Senate instead of seeking reelection. Their path to retake the House runs through California and requires picking off vulnerable Republicans who lost a key patron with the ouster of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

But in this case, the party is playing defense in a district where Democrats have a whisper-thin registration advantage. Though President Joe Biden won the seat by 11 points over former President Donald Trump in 2020, Republicans doubt he can replicate that margin this time around.

It is an especially fraught moment for Orange County Democrats, who have whipsawed between successes and setbacks in recent years — sweeping the county’s six-district delegation in 2018, only to backslide and give two seats back to the Republicans. Porter’s narrow victory last year further underscored how tenuous the party’s gains have been, even with a political celebrity on the ballot.

“No one can be like Katie Porter,” Min said in a recent interview. “I’m not going to try to be like Katie Porter. She’s uniquely charismatic, uniquely funny, uniquely famous.”

While neither Min nor Weiss sell themselves as Porter clones, they all share a similar political origin story: the 2018 midterms. Min and Porter, neither of whom held elected office, ran for Congress that year. After Porter bested Min in an acrimonious primary, Min used that campaign as a springboard to his successful state Senate run in 2020.

Also in that election cycle, Weiss helped build Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE), a fundraising and volunteer machine that embodied the political awakening of suburban women after Trump’s election in 2016. The group was especially successful in organizing in the county’s coastal areas, home to mostly affluent mainline Republicans and independents that were a pivotal voting bloc for Democrats’ successes that year.

Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), who grew up in Orange County and now represents an inland swath of the county, said Weiss’ experience mobilizing women voters will be essential in 2024, as Democrats hope to harness the lingering anger about the overturning of Roe v. Wade. As recent elections in Ohio and Virginia showed, the right to an abortion remains a deeply potent issue.

“When you talk about things like a woman’s right to choose, that’s very personal,” Sánchez said. “Being a woman in that race, she’s going to be able to deliver that message.”

Min, who is Korean American but has a surname that is also common among Chinese and Vietnamese people, says he can appeal to otherwise conservative-leaning Asian Americans.

These voters “are the margin of victory in a lot of cases,” said Tammy Kim, the Democratic vice mayor of Irvine who previously ran an Asian American Pacific Islander progressive advocacy group.

“I really like Joanna Weiss — I really do. … I hate the fact that her and Dave are running against each other,” Kim said. “With that being said, I believe if there is an AAPI seat, this is one. And I want to see Dave Min get it.”

Min said Porter, who endorsed his campaign, told him she believed the seat should be represented by an Asian American. Porter’s campaign did not comment on Min’s remarks.

The harshest fights between the Democrats so far have little to do with differences in policy or political strategy. Instead, it’s all about Min’s DUI.

The incident generated new momentum for Weiss, who was already in the race. In the weeks after the arrest, Harley Rouda, the district’s former Democratic representative, lined up with Weiss and called on Min to drop out. Other Democrats announced their support for Weiss soon afterward, including Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley and Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris, who won hard-fought elections in the area. So did EMILY’S List, the national fundraising juggernaut that backs women candidates who favor abortion rights.

“We need to make sure we’re sending the strongest candidate into the general,” Weiss said. “It’s concerning that anyone would drive under the influence and endanger other drivers — especially a state senator, driving a state-owned vehicle, who exercised poor judgment of character. I think our community agrees with that.”

While some national Democrats initially expressed concern about Min’s prospects, party leaders in Washington have yet to back either campaign. The House Democrats’ campaign arm has kept its focus on Baugh, teeing up attacks on his views of abortion or his past campaign legal troubles that resulted in $47,000 in fines.

Both campaigns have publicly and privately been making their case to party leaders and activists about whether or not the DUI is disqualifying. Weiss’ supporters say it is especially damaging because there is video footage of Min’s arrest.

Min’s camp released a polling memo asserting that such attacks on Min fall flat with voters. The poll questions omitted some details that would likely make fodder for attack ads, such as the fact he was driving a state-owned car, according to screenshots reviewed by POLITICO.

There was no major exodus of endorsements from Min’s campaign and he has since picked up additional support from law enforcement such as the unions representing Los Angeles police and deputy sheriffs. He also consolidated most of the support from local Democratic clubs and is poised to get the state Democratic Party endorsement at its convention this weekend.

“If it’s about viability, that’s not something we’ve found to be a hit,” Min said. “Other candidates are making this all about my DUI but will not articulate their own rationale or arguments of how they could win — or present evidence.”

Meanwhile, Min’s allies are pointing to potential drags on Weiss’ candidacy in the general election, such as her living roughly ten miles outside the district boundaries (members of Congress are not required to live in their districts). And they have gone after Weiss for loaning nearly a quarter million dollars to her campaign, arguing the bid is being financed by her work — and her husband’s — as corporate litigators representing companies accused of harming workers.

A chippy primary in March could be water under the bridge in November; plenty of candidates, including Porter herself in 2018, were able to bring together a fractured party and win in the general election.

Porter’s campaign projected optimism that Democrats remain well-positioned for the seat, even as she seeks higher office. Her campaign spokesperson Mila Myles said that “whichever Democrat emerges” will benefit from the grassroots organizing she built in the district.

Still, Baugh, the Republican who is running again this cycle, can barely hide his giddiness about what he calls a “dramatically different” landscape compared to 2022, when Porter spent nine times more than he did. This time, he has already raised more than $1.5 million, roughly a quarter million more than Min and Weiss. He is seen as the prohibitive favorite among Orange County Republicans, though he does face a challenge to his right from businessperson Max Ukropina.

Click here to read the full article in Politico

PG&E bills will go up by more than $32 per month next year in part to pay for wildfire protections

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — About 16 million people in California will see their electric and gas bills go up by an average of more than $32 per month over next year in part so that one of the nation’s largest utility companies can bury more of its power line s to reduce the chances of starting wildfires.

Pacific Gas & Electric had initially asked state regulators for permission to raise rates by more than $38 per month so it could bury 2,100 miles (3,380 kilometers) of power lines in areas that are at high risk for wildfires. But consumer advocacy groups complained, arguing PG&E could save ratepayers money and still reduce wildfire risk by putting a protective covering over the power lines instead of burying them.

Thursday’s decision by the California Public Utilities Commission sought to find a middle ground. Commissioners decided to let PG&E bury 1,230 miles (1,979 kilometers) of power lines, which would be $1.7 billion cheaper than PG&E’s proposal.

The commission rejected a proposal by a pair of administrative law judges that would have only allowed PG&E to bury 200 miles (322 kilometers) of power lines while installing protective covering on 1,800 miles (2,897 kilometers) of power lines.

“We as a commission have struggled mightily with the additional hardship these increases will create for families,” said Commissioner John Reynolds, who wrote the proposal regulators approved. “I can say that I am confident that you are getting something out of this investment.”

PG&E said 85% of the increase was to improve safety in its gas and electric operations. It says typical bills will increase by about $32.50 next year, followed by a $4.50 increase in 2025 before decreasing by $8 per month in 2026.

For low-income customers who qualify for discounted rates, PG&E said typical monthly bills will increase by $21.50 next year, followed by a $3 per month increase in 2025 before decreasing by $5.50 per month in 2026.

“We are committed to being the safe operator that the people of California expect and deserve,” PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said in a written statement. “We appreciate the Commission for recognizing the important safety and reliability investments we are making on behalf of our customers, including undergrounding powerlines to permanently reduce wildfire risk.”

Electricity rates have been increasing in California over the past decade in large part because utility companies are rushing to upgrade their aging infrastructure to prevent wildfires. PG&E’s residential rates have more than doubled since 2006, according to The Utility Reform Network, an advocacy group for ratepayers.

The turning point for PG&E came in 2018 when a windstorm knocked down one of its power lines in the Sierra Nevada foothills that started a wildfire. Within a few hours, the fire had spread to Paradise, where it destroyed most of the town and killed 85 people.

PG&E eventually pleaded guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter and filed for bankruptcy after facing more than $30 billion in damages related to the Paradise fire and other blazes started by its equipment. The company has pledged to bury 10,000 miles (16,093 kilometers) of power lines over the next decade.

The five people on the commission, who are appointed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, approved the rate increase unanimously while voicing concern for ratepayers.

“The rates we are asking ratepayers to pay are increasing at a rate that will become unaffordable in the very near future if we don’t find mechanisms to better control costs,” Commissioner Darcie Houck said.

Before the vote, dozens of people called the commission to complain PG&E’s rates are already unaffordable, with one woman testifying she doesn’t watch TV or turn on the pilot light for her gas stove because she can’t afford it.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Schwarzenegger’s victory reverberates today

For Californians, the recall signaled not simply louder politics but a new era in governance

It’s 20 years ago this week since Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor of California, after the recall of former Gov. Gray Davis. For much of the last two decades, the recall has been remembered mostly as a bizarre media circus, with 135 candidates, a hurried 60-day campaign, and a debate featuring Schwarzenegger and Arianna Huffington trading insults.

This is a shame, because that strange, cataclysmic event shifted California’s political priorities and offers important lessons that might provide some much-needed hope about our power to change the future.

In retrospect, the Davis recall looks like the first of three election earthquakes in the 21st century that shook up American politics. The other two are the elections of Barack Obama in 2008 and Donald Trump in 2016.

For Americans, the recall election, with all its bombast, would preview how politics would grow louder, more populist, more direct. And for Californians, the recall was something more: the beginning of a new era in governance.

In three major policy areas, the recall brought big movements in policies to put California more in line with the preferences of its people.

None of those policies got the same TV coverage that was devoted to populist hot buttons like Davis’ raising the “car tax,” or Schwarzenegger’s “groping” scandal. But the policies were all major proposals during Schwarzenegger’s recall campaign in 2003 and his subsequent reelection in 2006.

And these shifts in priorities are ongoing, having outlasted Schwarzenegger’s administration because they were embraced by his two gubernatorial successors, Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom, and by voters.

The first of these issues is children’s programs. Schwarzenegger repeatedly promised more spending on schools, children’s health and the after-school programs that had been the subject of his personal philanthropy and a ballot initiative he championed. Facing budget problems, he struggled to deliver on these promises in office. But he made some progress, and Brown and Newsom have done even better.

Today, per-pupil spending in California is more than twice what it was 20 years ago. With the help of Obamacare — which Schwarzenegger strongly supported — all California children, even undocumented immigrants, are eligible for health insurance. And California now spends so much on after-school programs — more than the other 49 states combined — that the Biden administration is trying to convince the rest of the country to adopt our approach.

The second area was the environment. During the recall campaign, Schwarzenegger, assisted by some of his most progressive advisers, offered six major promises on environment and climate change. Through executive orders and legislative compromises, he achieved all six — including solar and alternative energy investment, building efficiency standards, landmark targets for reducing greenhouse gases, and reductions in the carbon intensity of fuel.

State policymakers added more policies to this foundation, and Schwarzenegger in his post-governorship worked with other states and countries to further develop anti-carbon pollution policies.

The third issue area was, appropriately, the power of people in democracy. Near his term’s end, Schwarzenegger convinced voters, after multiple failed attempts, to make two changes.

One was to eliminate partisan primary elections, replacing them with a “top two” system where the top two vote-getters in the first round of an election advance to the second-round election in November, regardless of party affiliation.

The other was to end gerrymandering by the legislature and turn the job of drawing electoral districts over to a 14-member, bipartisan commission of citizens who do not have close ties to state government or political parties. This nonpartisan redistricting concept has spread to other states — from Colorado to Michigan — with Schwarzenegger’s continued advocacy. One-third of legislative districts in the U.S. are now drawn by such commissions.

These significant changes were possible in part because of the recall. Schwarzenegger, however, doesn’t much like reflecting on the recall, or the past in general. When I interviewed him at his L.A. home in September for a new book on the recall’s impact, he kept changing the subject to the future, specifically the need for the U.S. to build new infrastructure to meet our economic and environmental needs.

He suggested that President Biden’s infrastructure package, of $1.3 trillion over 10 years, was not nearly fast enough. “We need action now,” said Schwarzenegger. If he were president, Schwarzenegger told me, “there’d be $1.3 trillion in infrastructure every year.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

CHP officers get biggest raise in 20 years as hiring challenges drive up California police pay

California’s state police for the second year in a row will enjoy a salary bump that far exceeds the raises Gov. Gavin Newsom has offered to other public employees thanks to a state law that grants them automatic pay increases.

California Highway Patrol officers are getting a 7.9% wage increase, marking their biggest raise in 20 years. Last year, they received a 6.2% general salary increase. Both are historically high raises for the officers.

Raises for CHP officers by state law are based on the average compensation at five other law enforcement agencies: The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco. 

The formula includes base salary, retirement benefits and add-ons like longevity pay and educational incentive pay. It does not include overtime.

An annual compensation survey released late Monday by the state department of Human Resources found the average take-home pay for those agencies is $118,164 while the average net pay for CHP officers is $109,476.

The new salary increase for CHP officers is expected to bring their base wages up to what the other agencies are paying.

According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the 7.9% increase is the biggest pay bump for the California Highway Patrol since at least 2003, when they were given a 7.7% increase. 

Police salaries are increasingly competitive and a source of friction among agencies seeking to fill growing vacancies with a shrinking pool of eligible applicants — sheriffs and police chiefs have said that a significant percentage of applicants fail background tests.

The state, meanwhile, isn’t making it any easier to hire police officers — particularly those who leave larger departments with shoddy disciplinary or criminal records and find employment at smaller organizations. New laws have raised the minimum hiring age of law enforcement officers to 21.

That has led to bidding wars among law enforcement agencies, who use anything from signing bonuses to gym memberships to lure in recruits

The Los Angeles City Council and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the past year each approved lucrative new law enforcement contracts in the interest of retaining officers.

CHP’s new recruiting plan

The CHP has had its own challenges hiring. Last year, the agency embarked on a hiring campaign called the CHP 1000 in which it committed to hiring hundreds of new officers. Its early ads highlighted pay, namely that entry-level officers could expect to earn $100,000 in their first year on the job.

Newsom in October vetoed a bill that aimed to help the CHP find more recruits. It would have raised the agency’s top enlistment age from 35 to 40. 

The CHP union advocated for the bill, telling lawmakers that “raising the maximum age from 35 to 40 will widen the pool of applicants, increase the number of cadets, and ultimately the number of officers committed to serve and protect the public.”

Newsom in his veto message wrote that CHP’s recent recruitment efforts had paid off, with the agency “on track to double” the number of cadets at its academy. 

The California Association of Highway Patrolmen, which represents about 7,000 officers, is the only state worker union that does not have to bargain over wage increases because of the law that sets officer compensation based on what other agencies pay. 

A bill this year would have given a similar perk to firefighters at the California Department of Forestry and Protection — or Cal Fire. It died in September without reaching Newsom. 

The bill would have compelled the state Human Resources Department to calculate wage increases for the 8,000 or so state firefighters every year based on what other 20 local fire departments pay.

The union representing Cal Fire firefighters has said that the state is losing firefighters to other departments because the state has not kept up with competing organizations’ salaries.

Salary increases for California state workers

The biggest general salary increase Newsom has offered to a public employee union during contract negotiations is 4%. That salary hike for the 100,000 employees represented by SEIU Local 1000, is scheduled for July 1, 2025, and the contract allows the governor to knock it down to 3% if the Finance Department finds the state can’t afford the full raise.

Although Newsom has held the line under 4% for general salary increases, his administration has offered a mix of bonuses and special pay raises for workers in hard-to-fill positions to retain employees in a period of high inflation. 

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Pressure mounts on CPAC chief Matt Schlapp as legal costs spiral

Another board member resigned amid concerns over the cost of defending Schlapp from a sexual battery claim

The parent organization of the Conservative Political Action Conference lost another high-profile board member this week amid mounting criticism of Chairman Matt Schlapp and ballooning legalfees from a sexual misconduct lawsuit against him.

Morton Blackwell, who has served on the board of the American Conservative Union (ACU) since the 1970s, said he submitted his resignation Monday but declined to comment further. Blackwell is the founder and president of the Leadership Institute, which trains conservative activists, and also serves as one of Virginia’s members on the Republican National Committee. He has previously expressed concerns about the sexual misconduct claim against Schlapp.

Blackwell is the fifth board member to depart in recent months, following an exodus of more than half of the staff since 2021. Some former board members are calling for Schlapp’s resignation to protect the reputation of one of the oldest and most prominent institutions in the conservative movement.

“Morton Blackwell resigning is a signal to the entire conservative movement that the game is over,” said Grover Norquist, the well-known anti-tax activist who served on the CPAC board for more than 15 years. “CPAC stopped being a useful part of the movement long ago and now it’s veering toward dysfunctional.”

In a statement, CPAC expressed gratitude for Blackwell’s decades of service and blamed the criticism of Schlapp on “those with an axe to grind.”

“To be clear, CPAC stands in full compliance with all statutes and regulations and any claims to the contrary by a disgruntled former board member are false,” the organization’s statement said. “The full board has been united in its support of the Chairman and the CPAC leadership team.”

Schlapp was sued in January by a Senate campaign staffer who claimed that the longtime Republican power broker groped his crotch during a campaign trip to Atlanta last fall. Schlapp has acknowledged going to two bars that night with the staffer, Carlton Huffman, but has denied any wrongdoing and attacked his accuser’s credibility.

The ACU’s payments for Schlapp’s legal fees in the case exceeded $1 million as of August, as the discovery process was only beginning, according to the resignation letter from former vice chairman Charlie Gerow that recently was filed as part of the litigation in Alexandria Circuit Court. When board treasurer Bob Beauprez resigned in May, saying he could no longer vouch for the organization’s financial statements, he also sounded the alarm about Schlapp’s legal fees.

“Any settlement of upwards of a couple of million dollars plus the accumulated legal expenses … would break the organization, not to mention the reputational damage,” he wrote.

It is common for nonprofitsto cover officials from liability while they are conducting official business. In his resignation letter, Gerow said he was never provided with proof, demanded by the board in June, of Schlapp’s pledge to reimburse the organization if it was determined that the allegations arose from conduct outside his professional responsibilities.

“Tragically, for those who are encouraging Matt to ‘fight this to the end’ the costs are already staggering,” Gerow wrote in the letter.

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James Lacy, a lawyer and expert on nonprofits who served on the ACU board for decades until 2017, argued that the organization has no obligation to pay for Schlapp’s legal defense. The alleged misconduct occurred late at night and not at a sanctioned CPAC event, said Lacy, who said he has discussed with other former board members making a public statement calling for Schlapp’s resignation.

“The conduct at issue isn’t something ACU should be responsible for,” Lacy said. “It’s a big mistake because it has the effect of implicating ACU in the conflict, plus it’s a financial burden. The appropriate people to pay for the defense are the Schlapps themselves,” he said, referring to Schlapp and his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, who also works for CPAC and is named in Huffman’s lawsuit.

The ACU and its related organizations are not defendants in the lawsuit. The organization’s statement said that indemnifying top officials is “normal business” and required by its bylaws.

In the ongoing litigation, Huffman’s attorney subpoenaed two other witnesses who may be asked to testify about other misconduct allegations against Schlapp. As The Post reported in August, those incidents involve an attempt to kiss a staffer and an unwanted physical advance on someone else’s employee during a CPAC business trip, according to people familiar with the incidents. Schlapp has not commented on those allegations. Matt Smith, a member of the ACU executive committee, has said they were false.

Several former board members — including the two preceding chairmen — said Schlapp should step down or expressed grave concerns about his leadershipin recent interviews with The Post.

“There’s enough out there in the public eye to warrant not only transparency but also consequences,” said Al Cardenas, who served as chairman immediately before Schlapp and previously led the Florida Republican Party. “It’s time for damage control if ACU is going to continue to be a viable entity. For the benefit of the ACU and its future, there’s no other solution than to elect new leadership.”

Since Schlapp became chairman in 2014, board members who questioned his stewardship have quit or felt pressure to resign, said David A. Keene, who served as chairman for more than two decades before Cardenas.

“Dissent is not tolerated. … If all of this had happened at some other point in the past, there would have already have been in an intervention,” Keene said. “The board needs to be thinking about the importance of what they do to the movement as a whole.”

CPAC has long been a must-stop for Republican candidates eyeing higher office, and Schlapp helped build the conference into a global brand, with spinoff gatherings around the world. He also has been credited with putting the organization on more solid financial footing over the past decade.

“I think they’ve done everything by the book,” said Republican pollster Jim McLaughlin, a board member who stands by Schlapp. “Matt has always impressed me as a good marketer and a good communications person who believes in the cause. He’s really taken the organization to another level.”

But Schlapp has also faced criticism for moving the group away from its roots in the conservative movement and aligning it too closely with the donor class and far-right wing of former president Donald Trump’s political base. Some corporate sponsors have backed away, and ticket sales were slow at this year’s flagship gathering in Washington, D.C., which was scheduled shortly after the sexual misconduct claims became public.

Click here to read the full artucle in the Washington Post

Here’s where APEC protests are happening in SF with more expected

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Protests are continuing in San Francisco as the APEC summit ramps up with the arrival of Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping, along with other large events.

After hundreds marched down Market Street Tuesday, demanding an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, more protesters from multiple groups gathered Wednesday morning.

More protests are expected throughout the day and the rest of the week.

Protest at APEC CEO summit

A number of organizations protested the start of the APEC CEO summit Wednesday morning, attempting to shut it down.

The group met near the 5th Street BART station and marched to 5th Street and Mission, where hundreds were lining the streets near the Moscone Center.

The protesters were attempting to block APEC attendees from entering the event.

Protesters were locking arms and chanting “No to APEC.” City crews were also turning traffic around at the area.

SFPD officers had formed a human barricade to block 5th Street. As of 11 a.m., half of the officers had left the area, but there was still a line of officers blocking Mission Street.

MORE: What to do if you’re stopped by police at a rally

Heads of state and representatives from big companies such as Uber, GM, and Boeing were meeting to promote policies that favor free trade and corporate profit.

While some were protesting the CEO summit, many were also there continuing to call for a cease-fire in the Middle East.

The protest is part of a larger ‘No to APEC’ movement that has hosted events around the Bay Area in recent weeks.

Things mainly remained peaceful, but there were multiple tense moments where protesters booed and attempted to confront APEC attendees in suits. Protesters were swarming and even putting hands on delegates as they tried to walk in to the Moscone Center.

Police did step in to break up confrontations, but no arrests were made.

Other intersections around the Moscone Center may close down on Wednesday and the rest of the week due to other demonstrations.

Click here to read the full article on ABC 7

Getting A Taste of San Francisco: Foreign TV crew robbed while covering APEC summit in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO – A foreign news crew covering the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco was allegedly robbed while working.

Journalists from a Czech Republic public television, who were in the Bay Area on assignment, were robbed of some of their equipment on Sunday evening while recording near the famed City Lights bookstore, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The San Francisco Police Department confirmed it is investigating an armed robbery of a production team at 4:56 p.m. in the area of Broadway and Columbus Avenue.

According to officers, a vehicle stopped on the street, and three armed men with firearms exited the car and approached the group. The suspects demanded their production equipment, and the victims complied.

The suspects returned to their vehicle and fled, police said.

While the police department did not confirm that the victims were journalists, reporter Bohumil Vostal of Czech television station ČT24 said he was among those robbed.

SEE ALSO: APEC summit to impact transit, commute into SF on Bay Bridge

“Thank you very much for the support we received in ČT news. We’ll keep shooting. We are here for the US President’s summit with the Chinese leader. And we’ll be there (as always) for CT,” Vostal wrote in Crech on the social media platform X.

Bay Area television stations often send armed guards with reporters and photographers as a security measure while covering local news.

Click here to read the full article in Fox News

Arson likely caused fire that damaged vital artery of Los Angeles freeway, governor says

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Arson was the cause of a massive weekend fire that charred and indefinitely closed a vital section of a Los Angeles freeway, causing major traffic headaches for hundreds of thousands of commuters, California authorities said Monday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said investigators were trying to determine if one person or more were involved. He gave no other details.

“I have to stress that we have determined what started the fire,” Newsom told reporters.

The fire erupted Saturday in two storage lotsf under Interstate 10. Construction materials combusted quickly and the fire grew. It left many columns charred and chipped and the deck guardrails twisted. Crews shored up the most damaged section for the safety of workers clearing the debris. It’s still unclear what structural damage, if any, the blaze caused to the freeway.

Beyond a massive traffic headache, the closure is expected to be felt well beyond the metropolis, including possibly slowing the transport of goods from the twin ports of LA and Long Beach, federal officials have said. The ports handle more than half the goods coming into the country. President Joe Biden had been briefed on the fire.

“It’s disrupting in every way, whether you are talking about traveling to and from work or your child care plans and the flow of goods and commerce, this will disrupt the lives of Angelenos,” LA Mayor Karen Bass said.

Los Angeles residents were urged to avoid travel to the area Monday and to work from home if possible.

“Our streets cannot handle 300,000 cars,” Bass said, referring to how many vehicles use the I-10 stretch daily.

Officials have said the damage is reminiscent of the 1994 Northridge earthquake that flattened thoroughfares. After the quake, it took more than two months to repair Interstate 10 — and that was considered significantly fast.

Newsom said early tests show that the deck “appears to be much stronger than originally assessed.” Concrete and rebar samples taken Monday from the superstructure, decks and columns will help determine “whether or not we’re tearing this down and replacing it, or we’re continuing the recovery and repairs,” he said.

“This isn’t going to be resolved in a couple of days, and it’s not going to take a couple years,” Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt told The Associated Press. “But whether it’s weeks or months, we’re still too early to tell.”

Bhatt said the fiery June 11 crash of a tractor-trailer hauling gasoline in Philadelphia that collapsed an elevated section of Interstate 95, snarling traffic and hurting area businesses, highlights the impact of such disasters not only on a city but on the nation.

“The ports are still open and the goods will still flow, but when you remove a section of the interstate that carries 300,000 vehicles a day, there’s going to be spillover impacts,” Bhatt said. “The concern there is the quicker we can get this open, the faster we can remove an impediment.”

Drivers were tested Monday during the first weekday commute since the raging fire. Some freeway exits backed up as drivers were forced to use crowded surface streets to bypass the damaged freeway stretch south of downtown.

Some routes, however, had lighter traffic, suggesting drivers heeded warnings from the city to make alternate plans. Cellphones blasted Monday with a predawn reminder for residents to plan different routes or expect significant delays.

“Our businesses are just bouncing back from the Covid shutdowns. Business was just getting good,” said Blair Besten, director of LA’s Historic Core business improvement district. She’s worried about the lingering effects of this closure.

Flames reported around 12:20 a.m. Saturday ripped through two storage lots in an industrial area beneath I-10, burning parked cars, stacks of wooden pallets and support poles for high-tension power lines, city fire Chief Kristin Crowley said. No injuries were reported.

At least 16 homeless people, including a pregnant woman, living underneath the freeway were brought to shelters. More than 160 firefighters responded to the blaze, which spread across 8 acres (3 hectares) and burned for three hours.

California Fire Marshal Daniel Berlant said investigators have identified where the fire started and what the cause was after sorting through the rubble for evidence but did not specify what they found. He said there is no suspect information yet. He said they are talking to witnesses, including homeless people and nearby business owners.

Storage yards under highways are common statewide, with the money from the leases going to public transit. Newsom said the practice would be reevaluated following the fire.

The governor said California has been in litigation with Apex Development, Inc., the owner of the business leasing the storage property where the fire started. The lease is expired, Newsom said, and the business had been in arrears while illegally subleasing the space to five or six other entities. “They’ve been out of compliance for some time, that’s why we’re going to court” early next year, he said.

Mainak D’Attaray, an attorney for Apex Development, confirmed the company was in litigation with the state.

“We are currently investigating ourselves what happened at the yard under the freeway. As such, we are not prepared to give an official statement or answer questions until we have determined what actually occurred,” D’Attaray said in an email.

Ertugrul Taciroglu, chair of the civil and environmental engineering department at the University of California, Los Angeles, said part of the challenge is how expensive real estate has become.

“Every piece of land is being utilized, so I can see the pressure or the incentives for making use of these spaces under these highways,” he said.

Two contractors have been hired to clean up the hazardous material and to shore up the freeway, according to California Secretary of Transportation Toks Omishakin.

Click here to read the full article in AP News