As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, August 03, 2009

CA-10: DeSaulnier's Endorsement Trouble

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier has based a lot of his campaign strategy in the quick-sprint Congressional race for CA-10 on endorsements. Not a day goes by when he doesn't release some endorsement by one character or another into my inbox. The other day he touted that he received a "majority of endorsement votes" from California Democratic Party delegates, without mentioning that he did not reach the 60% threshold that would be required for an official CDP endorsement.

However, one endorsement has caused DeSaulnier a bit of trouble - the support of the former holder of this seat, Ellen Tauscher. DeSaulnier has made no secret of that endorsement, including it in mailers and on his TV advertisement. One problem with all this: with Tauscher now at the State Department, some have raised concerns that her endorsement while working at a federal agency violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from participating in partisan politics. DeSaulnier's camp has countered that the endorsement, which was made before Tauscher was confirmed for the post at State, always says "Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher" and thus indicates that it was made prior to that appointment. But the State Department has weighed in, asking DeSaulnier's campaign to remove the endorsement.

The U.S. State Department has asked 10th District Congressional candidate and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier to remove all references in his campaign materials to his endorsement from former congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, who is now undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security at the U.S. State Department.

While a legal adviser to the U.S. State Department concludes that the endorsement broke no laws or policies, “Under Secretary Tauscher is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct. To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, on behalf of Undersecretary Tauscher, I have asked Senator DeSaulnier to remove all references in his campaign material of any endorsement she may have made,” wrote James Thessin, deputy legal adviser and designed agency ethics official.

The DeSaulnier campaign is fingering John Garamendi for complaining to the State Department about the use of Tauscher's name. Actually, the complaint was made by Jason Bezis, an individual who claims not to be affiliated with any campaign, but who apparently enjoys filing complaints with the State Department and the FEC (he filed one there against DeSaulnier's campaign over a health care mailer). It looks like the DeSaulnier campaign won't change current materials already printed, but will consult the State Department "about what qualifies and what doesn't under their request."

I actually question whether this means as much as the DeSaulnier team seems to think, but their strategy all along has been to gather up local endorsements.

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