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GOP candidate Diane Harkey has anti-LGBT voting record

Democrat Mike Levin leading in the polls

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Diane Harkey (Photo via Harkey campaign website)

Democratic candidate Mike Levin has a slight but consistent lead over Republican Diane Harkey in the race to fill longtime Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat in California’s 49thcongressional district, which encompasses historically conservative Orange and San Diego Counties. President Trump’s approval rating there is just 39% and two years ago, he lost to Hillary Clinton by seven points while Issa barely eked out a victory by the smallest margin of any congressional election in the country. 

Trump threw his endorsement behind Harkey on Aug. 20 and the candidate has since fielded questions on her allegiance to the President. She disapproves of Trump’s “approach” and disagrees with some of his positions on issues like offshore drilling, but she supports his economic agenda, his proposed border wall, as well as his decisions to withdraw from the Paris climate accords and from the Iran nuclear deal.

In an Oct. 2 debate, Levin, a lawyer and expert/advocate on clean energy, argued Trump had abdicated America’s responsibility to close allies overseas. 

LGBT issues were not discussed during that debate. However, following the revelation that the Trump administration is considering defining gender as biological, immutable, and assigned at birth—effectively erasing transgender and non-gender conforming Americans—the candidates’ positions on the subject will likely be front-of-mind for many voters. 

After Equality California and the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Levin this summer, the groups took aim at Harkey’s allegiance with Trump, as well as her record as a member of the California State Board of Equalization and former member of the California State Assembly. 

“Diane Harkey would continue to work against Southern California values—even supporting the debunked and cruel practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” 

HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

“With the president dead set on turning back the clock on health care, women’s rights and LGBTQ equality,” said EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur, “California’s 49th District can’t afford another corrupt extremist Trump ally like Diane Harkey representing them in Congress.”

While in the California Assembly, the GOP candidate votes were consistently anti-LGB — and especially anti-T. Harkey voted against bills that would: let transgender students use facilities consistent with their gender identities; allow transgender people to change their names without a hearing; and include trans/non-binary communities in Civil Rights protections, anti-discrimination laws, and legislation on hate crimes.  

At nearly every turn, Harkey voted against political, social, and legal equality for LGBT people—whether by opposing the ban on “conversion therapy” for minors or by giving the thumbs-down to any measure intended to make life easier for same-sex couples. 

Prior to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling—which she opposed—Harkey voted “no” on a bill to ensure that health care and insurance coverage for domestic partners is equal to services provided to spouses. In 2009, she opposed a bill that urged Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Also that year, she voted against urging Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard And James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act. 

Among Harkey’s comparatively few positive votes in favor of pro-LGBT measures was her endorsement of a 2014 bill that prohibits state healthcare exchanges from employing marketing practices or benefit designs that discriminate against LGBTQ people. She also voted to require local medical societies to create and distribute a survey for LGBT and intersex patients. 

“The fight for full legal, economic and social equality for the LGBTQ community is far from won,” said Mike Levin, accepting his endorsement from HRC. The subject of LGBT rights has otherwise heretofore been a sidebar in the heated battle for Issa’s seat in California’s 49th district. 

Throughout her campaign, Harkey has been trailed by allegations of corruption made against her ex-husband, Dan J. Harkey. A judge, jury, and appellate court each found him guilty of “willful and malicious” breaches of fiduciary obligations to investors in his companies, National Financial Lending LLC and Point Center Financial, Inc. The candidate, who was named in the civil litigation, claims her former husband did not—as has been alleged—operate a Ponzi scheme.  

In response, Harkey’s campaign has drawn attention to Levin’s tenure at Bryan Cave, LLP, where he served as a junior associate alongside disbarred Los Angeles attorney Mitchell Roth. The California attorney general’s office found Roth guilty of fleecing distressed homeowners by failing to provide the foreclosure relief services for which his clients were paying him. Levin’s campaign notes Bryan Cave filed the lawsuits against Roth that resulted in his dismissal from the California Bar Association and the $1 million restitution judgment against him. 

Earlier this month, Harkey publicly demanded her opponent return a $10,000 donation from a PAC chaired by Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas, who is accused of drugging and fondling a teen girl in 2007. “To accept the donation knowing where it comes from condones the alleged activity,” she said. 

On Oct. 22, Levin used Twitter to renew interest in a controversy first reported in Newsweeka few weeks ago. On her website, Harkey published her endorsement by the San Diego Patriots, a group that called the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a “false flag.” The conspiracy theory suggests mass shootings are staged events with “crisis actors” paid to invoke sympathy for gun control. “This weekend,” Levin tweeted, “Fred Guttenberg visited us. He lost his daughter at Parkland. He’s no conspiracy theorist.”

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Los Angeles

LA City Council votes to suspend Ridley-Thomas over corruption charges

The 11-to-3 vote to suspend vote came two days after Ridley-Thomas announced that he would “step back” from his duties

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Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas speaking at a press conference (Blade file screenshot photo)

LOS ANGELES – The city council voted Wednesday to suspend Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, 66, who was was indicted a week ago by a federal grand jury on 20 federal counts of conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud.

The 11-to-3 vote to suspend vote came two days after Ridley-Thomas announced that he would “step back” from participation in City Council meetings and committees. Ridley-Thomas, who has denied any wrongdoing, has said he will not resign and will fight the federal charges against him, KTLA and the Los Angeles Times reported.

The federal grand jury’s indictment alleged that Ridley-Thomas took bribes from a former dean at the University of Southern California, (USC) when he was a member of the County Board of Supervisors.

In a letter sent to fellow councilmembers Monday, he indicated that he would step back from his duties but he declined to resign from his seat. He said that he planned to fight the “outrageous allegations” and would resume participation on the legislative body “at the earliest appropriate time.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that in exchange for the payoffs, Ridley-Thomas allegedly supported awarding county contracts worth millions of dollars to USC. 

In the indictment Ridley-Thomas is charged with conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, then dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to steer county money to the university in return for admitting his son Sebastian into graduate school with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship, the Times reported.

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California

Newsom expands drought emergency urges Californians to conserve water

California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s. August 2021 was driest & hottest August on record since reporting began

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California Governor Gavin Newsom (Blade file photo credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Following the second driest year on record and with near record low storage in California’s largest reservoirs, Governor Gavin Newsom today issued a proclamation extending the drought emergency statewide and further urging Californians to step up their water conservation efforts as the western U.S. faces a potential third dry year.

Bolstering conservation efforts, the proclamation enables the State Water Resources Control Board to ban wasteful water practices, including the use of potable water for washing sidewalks and driveways. The Governor issued an executive order in July calling on Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 15 percent compared to 2020 to protect water reserves and complement local conservation mandates. The Governor’s action today comes as the Board reports that in August, California reduced urban water use by 5 percent compared to 2020.

“As the western U.S. faces a potential third year of drought, it’s critical that Californians across the state redouble our efforts to save water in every way possible,” said Governor Newsom. “With historic investments and urgent action, the state is moving to protect our communities, businesses and ecosystems from the immediate impacts of the drought emergency while building long-term water resilience to help the state meet the challenge of climate change impacts making droughts more common and more severe.”

The proclamation notes that the State Water Resources Control Board may adopt emergency regulations to prohibit wasting water, such as hosing down sidewalks or driveways, allowing drinking water to flood gutters or streets, or washing a car without a shut-off nozzle.

The proclamation adds the eight counties not previously included in the drought state of emergency: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco and Ventura. In addition, the proclamation requires local water suppliers to implement water shortage contingency plans that are responsive to local conditions and prepare for the possibility of a third dry year.

Expanding the Save Our Water initiative, a critical resource during the last drought, California has launched robust water conservation public education campaigns in partnership with stakeholders, including public water agencies. Statewide per capita residential water use declined 21 percent between 2013 and 2016 and as of 2020, the urban sector is using approximately 16 percent less on average statewide than in 2013. The Administration will continue to monitor the evolving drought conditions and evaluate all tools available to respond in real-time. 

California is experiencing its worst drought since the late 1800s, as measured by both lack of precipitation and high temperatures. August 2021 was the driest and hottest August on record since reporting began and the water year that ended last month was the second driest on record. Today’s proclamation authorizes the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to provide assistance and funding under the California Disaster Assistance Act to support the emergency response and delivery of drinking water and water for public health and safety.

The Governor’s California Comeback Plan invests $5.2 billion over three years to support immediate drought response and long-term water resilience, including $815 million for emergency drought relief projects to secure and expand water supplies, drought contingency planning and multi-benefit land repurposing projects; support for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, with a focus on small and disadvantaged communities; Sustainable Groundwater Management Act implementation to improve water supply security and quality; and projects to support wildlife and habitat restoration efforts, among other nature-based solutions.

A copy of today’s proclamation can be found here.

More information on the state’s response to the drought and informational resources available to the public are available at https://drought.ca.gov/

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Los Angeles

LA City Councilman Ridley-Thomas will ‘step back’ from duties, not resign

He will fight the “outrageous allegations” and plans to resume participation on the legislative body “at the earliest appropriate time”

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City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas (Screenshot via KABC 7 News Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas in a letter sent to fellow councilmembers Monday said that he would step back from his duties but he declined to resign from his seat.

In the letter he said that he will fight the “outrageous allegations” and plans to resume participation on the legislative body “at the earliest appropriate time,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“I fully appreciate the importance of the council being able to conduct its business with minimal distractions,” Ridley-Thomas said in the letter, adding that he was stepping back with that in mind.

Ridley-Thomas, 66, was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury with 20 federal counts of conspiracy, bribery, mail and wire fraud alleging he took bribes from a former dean at the University of Southern California, (USC) when he was a member of the County Board of Supervisors.

The Los Angeles Times reported that in exchange for the payoffs, Ridley-Thomas allegedly supported awarding county contracts worth millions of dollars to USC. 

In the indictment Ridley-Thomas is charged with conspiring with Marilyn Louise Flynn, 83, then dean of USC’s School of Social Work, to steer county money to the university in return for admitting his son Sebastian into graduate school with a full-tuition scholarship and a paid professorship, the Times reported.

Both Ridley-Thomas and Flynn deny the charges.

Mark Ridley-Thomas will ‘step back’ from LA City Council meetings, won’t resign- KABC 7 News Los Angeles:

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