Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Responding to a challenge issued by Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), who released his federal tax return a few days ago, Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) will also release his federal tax return.
“Howard will accept Sherman’s challenge to release his taxes,” Brandon Hall, senior adviser to the Berman campaign, wrote in an email this morning. “We are working on the exact timing.”
It should also be noted that while Sherman, a former CPA embroiled in what is arguably the most closely watched congressional race of the year, attracted a decent amount of attention when he released his tax return (pdfs of parts 1 and 2), he’s hardly the only person running for congress to do so.
Parke Skelton, Sherman’s campaign consultant, also hit my email inbox this morning with a list of six links to candidates running for congress who have released their tax returns and challenged their rivals to do the same.
It appears that the trend of congressional candidates releasing their tax returns is bipartisan. Take a look for yourself if you’re curious:
Democratic candidate Keith Fitzgerald is running against Rep. Vern Buchanan (R - FL), Republican candidate Karen Harrington is challenging Democratic National Committee chief Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D - FL), Democratic candidate Pat Miles, is challenging Rep. Justin Amash (R - MI), Republican Michael Williams is running in a crowded Texas district, and Republican candidate Jim Pendergraph is running in another packed race in North Carolina.
In Rhode Island, meanwhile, one reporter was curious enough to call up everybody.
Now, where’s my CPA?
3.14.13 at 9:24 am | The veteran former congressman joins Covington &. . .
1.4.13 at 2:55 pm | Colleagues paid tribute in in the House chamber. . .
12.19.12 at 3:06 pm | In political campaigns, how and when a strategist. . .
12.12.12 at 12:22 pm | Sherman and Berman spent $40 for each registered. . .
11.12.12 at 11:22 pm | And this blogger scratches his head.
11.7.12 at 2:46 pm | The National Jewish Democratic Council sent this. . .
10.12.12 at 1:36 pm | On Friday, leaders in the movement for. . . (7)
5.17.12 at 6:23 pm | Ah, Jews and their Yiddishe mamas. (3)
10.3.12 at 11:31 pm | Berman campaign is using a much larger -- and. . . (3)
April 19, 2012 | 3:50 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Here’s something to consider when you’re next stuck in traffic: Which incumbent Jewish Democratic congressman running for reelection in the 30th district should get credit for expanding the 405 freeway?
Rep. Howard Berman (D – Van Nuys) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D – Sherman Oaks), who are locked in a high-stakes and expensive battle for reelection in the West San Fernando Valley, are both claiming to have been instrumental to the expansion project, which is expected to cost just over $1 billion and will add a HOV lane on the 10 miles of freeway running between the 10 and the 101 freeways.
Those who see the 405 expansion as an accomplishment that is primarily Berman’s are bristling. The Berman campaign has accused Sherman of lying about his own record and inflating his involvement in the project.
“Howard Berman’s name has been associated with this project throughout this process,” Brandon Hall, senior adviser to the Berman campaign, said. “What you won’t find in any of the articles written while this was going on is Congressman Sherman’s name, and we think that speaks volumes about who actually was able to deliver on this project.”
In debates and public appearances over the course of this increasingly testy campaign, Sherman has said that the project would not have gone ahead without his effort. In a TV ad airing on cable in the San Fernando Valley, the Sherman campaign has included the additional lane on the 405 freeway on a list of Sherman’s accomplishments.
Despite the accusations from the Berman campaign, Sherman’s campaign consultant, Parke Skelton, stood firm, saying that Sherman played “a critical role in securing funding for the 405, particularly at the state level.”
“No one is saying that Brad Sherman did this by himself,” Skelton added. “The fact of the matter is a lot of people played important roles.”
As with many competing claims in political races, each side is marshalling a different set of facts to support its claims.
In a five-page document accompanying the press release, the Berman campaign outlined Berman’s actions over the course of many years to secure funding and advance the project, which is expected to be completed in 2013.
That document, citing news articles dating back to 2005, describes Berman’s efforts negotiating with congressional leaders to secure a $130 million appropriation in that year’s federal transportation bill and helping to apply public pressure on then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was reluctant to commit to the conditions associated with the federal funding.
“Every step of the way it’s been Howard Berman’s project,” said Bob Blumenfield, a California state assemblyman who worked as Berman’s district director during this time, and has endorsed Berman in his race against Sherman.
Blumenfield said that the fight between Berman and Schwarzenegger – in which the congressman pressured the governor to match the $130 million of federal funding he had secured with an equal amount of state funding – was only the most public of Berman’s efforts to keep the project going.
If Berman’s efforts to advance the 405 expansion project focused on the congressional funding process, Sherman’s contributions to the project, according to a three-page document obtained from the Sherman campaign, appear to have focused primarily, though not exclusively, on lobbying lawmakers and governmental bodies within California.
Starting in 2006 and continuing through 2007, Sherman wrote letters, appeared at press conferences and offered testimony at a hearing in Sacramento to support the project. Through these channels, the document from Sherman’s office argues, the congressman urged Schwarzenegger and the California Transportation Commission to allocate funding from voter-approved transportation bonds to the 405 project.
And while Sherman’s campaign focuses on the fact that the majority of the funds for the 405 expansion came from that bond issue, those supporting Berman say that the federal funding he secured for the 405 ensured that the project would be completed more quickly than it otherwise would have.
It may seem unusual, in a year when concerns about government deficits are running high, to see two incumbent lawmakers bragging about their roles in spending more than $1 billion on a highway construction project.
But the contest between Sherman and Berman – two Jewish, pro-Israel Democrats with relatively similar voting records running in a mostly Democratic district – is anything but ordinary. The two have had to draw distinctions between one another in curious ways.
Earlier this week, Sherman, for the first time in his 15-year congressional career, publicly released his federal income tax returns and challenged Berman to do the same.
“I think voters have a right to expect it,” Skelton said, “and at least Berman should answer the question whether he’s going to do it or not.”
Asked whether Berman would follow suit, a representative from the Berman campaign declined to comment.
Berman, meanwhile, has staked his candidacy on presenting himself as the more effective congressman, and in today’s release, the Berman campaign included quotes from a number of elected officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, giving Berman primary credit for making the 405 project a reality and for expediting its timing.
“Congressman Berman was the one who did the heavy lifting and delivered the $130 million we needed to make the project real. Everybody knows that,” said Richard Katz in today’s statement. Katz serves on the Board of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Among those quoted in the Berman campaign’s release is Sherman himself, who acknowledged before a congressional committee in 2003 that Berman was the sponsor of the 405 freeway expansion. In that same testimony, Sherman called himself the lead sponsor of a different HOV lane project, the one along the I-5 freeway median between State Routes 134 and 170.”
April 17, 2012 | 1:57 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
According to data released this week by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Reps. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) and Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) both raised significant amounts of money for their dueling campaigns for reelection in the 30th district.
With just seven weeks remaining before the two Jewish incumbent Democrats face off in a primary election, the Sherman campaign has just over $4 million in cash on hand. Berman’s campaign, although raising and spending money at a faster rate, has almost $2.5 million to spend.
The messages were optimistic from the campaigns of both congressmen.
Parke Skelton, Sherman’s campaign consultant, trumpeted the results in an email that included recent fundraising and Sherman’s internal polling data as well as data from August 2011. Sherman didn’t just lead Berman in money available, Skelton said. He had also netted more money over the months since the two reelection campaigns began in earnest.
“The numbers are pretty clear,” Skelton wrote. “The financial advantage enjoyed by Brad Sherman is widening, while, despite his massive spending, Berman has not closed the polling gap with Sherman at all.”
Brandon Hall, a senior adviser to the Berman campaign, saw his side’s spending as a positive attribute.
“We’ve already knocked on the door of every likely voter—regardless of party—introducing Congressman Berman to areas of the 30th district he hasn’t represented before,” Hall said in an emailed statement. “Given our proven ability to raise money at a rapid pace, we are confident our fundraising strength will continue once we successfully navigate the Primary Election.”
Berman has been raising funds at a rapid clip—Berman spoke at a star-studded fundraiser on Sunday night—but for the last decade, Sherman has represented about 60 percent of the new 30th district. Only 16 percent of the new district’s voters were in Berman’s old district, leaving Berman with the additional challenge of meeting and appealing to a district full of voters who are not familiar with him but are quite used to hearing about Sherman, who regularly hosts town halls in the district.
Under a new California law, the top-two vote getters in June, regardless of party, will advance to a run-off in November. Berman and Sherman are both expected to advance.
In addition to the funds Berman’s campaign has at its disposal, two independent expenditure committees supporting Berman’s campaign, known as Super PACs, released filings this week as well. One of the groups, the Committee to Elect an Effective Valley Congressman, received $210,000 in contributions in the first three months of the year.
Most of those funds came from just two donors: Mapleton Investments, an investment firm headed by Marc Nathanson, and Peter Lowy, a Westfield Executive who is also the Chairman of the Board of Tribe Media Corp., the nonprofit publisher of the Jewish Journal, each donated $100,000 to the Berman-backing Super PAC.
April 9, 2012 | 3:54 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
The campaigns of Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks) both closed their books on the first quarter of 2012 at the end of March and in the days leading up to release of official numbers from the Federal Election Commission, both operations tried to signal their strength and preparedness for a long and expensive fight.
On April 5, Politico cited “a source close to the campaign” in its report that Berman had raised $600,000 during the first quarter of 2012. Between those donations and the $2.85 million in cash the campaign had at the end of 2011, Berman’s forthcoming FEC filing should show him with well over $3 million in cash on hand.
The next day, Sherman’s campaign released a statement saying it had $4 million in cash on hand.
More will be known about the financial state of the two campaigns when their official filings become public on April 15, but the two preliminary reports show that while Sherman still has more total cash on hand, Berman continues to collect donations at a more rapid pace.
Buoyed by an internal poll that showed Sherman leading Berman by a 2-1 margin, Sherman’s campaign consultant, Parke Skelton, sent a confident message to reporters.
“We’ve been able to finance a robust campaign where we have visited, called, and mailed to ever likely voter in the district again and again,” Skelton said in a statement. “We still have $4 million cash on hand to carry on a more robust campaign in future months.”
In a statement released on its website on April 4, the Berman campaign cast doubt on the reliability of the poll. “Were it true, it simply reflects the fact that he [Sherman] currently represents a majority of the district. Nothing more,” read the unsigned statement on the “News” section of HowardBerman.com.
The statement went on to say that the campaign would, in the coming weeks, “be communicating through mail, TV, radio and Internet ads.”
In the new 30th district, where Democratic voters outnumber Republican ones by a 2-1 margin, the best-known Republican candidates in the race will have significantly fewer resources at their disposal.
In a radio debate on “Which Way L.A.?” with Berman and Sherman earlier this month, Republican candidate Mark Reed said he had raised about $15,000 for his campaign so far. Reed is scheduled to appear at a $1,000 per person fundraiser in Malibu hosted by Michael Reagan on April 10.
Another participant in the same debate, Republican candidate Susan Shelley, was less specific about the resources at her disposal.
April 3, 2012 | 1:29 pm
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
A new poll released by Rep. Brad Sherman’s (D - Sherman Oaks) campaign shows him far ahead of his fellow Democrat and rival in the 30th district, Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys). The poll also suggests that Berman and Sherman will advance from the June 5 primary to face off again in November’s general election.
In a poll taken last month, 52 percent of voters chose Sherman in a head-to-head race, with Berman getting 25 percent, and the remaining 23 percent of voters undecided. In the release of the results, Sherman’s pollster, Diane Feldman, pointed out that this margin is effectively identical to the results of a similar poll conducted for Sherman’s campaign in August 2011, in which 51 percent of voters chose Sherman and 26 percent chose Berman.
More immediately relevant, however, is the second set of results released in the new poll.
Back in August 2011, when Feldman asked voters about a three-way race between Sherman, Berman and Republican Mark Reed, Sherman won 42 percent of votes, Reed came in second with 26 percent and Berman came in third with 17 percent.
But under new California election law, all voters are allowed to vote in the June 5 primary, regardless of party registration, and they will be able to choose from a wide variety of candidates from multiple parties. Seven candidates will appear on the ballot in this new open-primary, and with three Republicans running—Reed, writer Susan Shelley, and businessman Navraj Singh—the top-two are Sherman-Berman.
That result would pave the way for a Berman v. Sherman general election in November.
In an email announcing the poll results, Sherman’s newly hired PR guy, former journalist John Schwada, downplayed in advance the upcoming release of recent campaign fundraising and spending data, scheduled to be released on April 15.
“The Sherman campaign has elected to save its campaign resources for the November general election,” Schwada wrote.
The Sherman-sponsored poll of 500 likely voters in California’s new 30th Congressional district was conducted between March 26-28 The Feldman Group, Inc. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
Here are the results:
Head to head:
Brad Sherman, Democrat 51% (52 % in August 2011)
Howard Berman, Democrat 26% (25% in August 2011)
Undecided 23% (23% in August 2011)
Full field for the June primary (all numbers from March 2012 poll):
Democrat Brad Sherman 40%
Democrat Howard Berman 17%
Democrat Vince Gilmore 1%
Republican Mark Reed 12%
Republican Susan Shelley 5%
Republican Navraj Singh 4%
Green Party member Michael Powelson 2%
April 3, 2012 | 10:31 am
Posted by Jonah Lowenfeld
Rep. Howard Berman (D - Van Nuys), Rep. Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), Mark Reed and Susan Shelley have met on various stages around the San Fernando Valley for debates in recent months, and are set to meet a few more times in the nine weeks before the primary on June 5th. The four candidates running in the 30th district will meet on “Which Way, L.A.?” at 7p.m. tonight on KCRW (89.9 FM), The City Maven reports.
The tone at these debates has been snippy in the past, most particularly when Sherman goes after Berman. It started when Sherman first proposed an anti-Super PAC pledge (that Berman refused to sign) at the first debate in January; at a March 14 forum sponsored by the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce, Sherman asked Berman whether he was breaking House rules by driving a government car for personal or political reasons.
Post continues after the jump.
Sherman and Berman, who both recently hired new PR professionals to help get their stories out, appear to be digging in for a bruising fight. But the Republicans in the district, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, are also going after one another.
Things heated up when Susan Shelley, a writer who calls herself a social moderate, released Los Angeles Superior Court documents about conservative businessman/rancher/actor Mark Reed’s criminal record. Shelley noted that Reed had been arrested in Los Angeles County six times, including twice relating to drugs and twice for driver’s license violations. In 2010 he was convicted on two counts of possessing a concealed weapon and sentenced to 36 months’ probation.
“It’s completely misleading and false what she’s bringing out,” Reed told the Jewish Journal, calling it a “filthy personal attack.”
Reed said that the weapons-related charge was about “an antique stagecoach 20-gauge pistol shotgun” that he said had only been used as a prop in his work as an actor.
Responding to the other charges, Reed said that the animal, a monkey that he still owns, was cited by the Department of Fish and Game as a dangerous species because the permit lapsed.
“The other stuff that she’s talking about” Reed said, “my god, that’s 1990.”
Some of the charges against Reed came up in his earlier bid for congress, in 2010, an unsuccessful run to unseat Sherman in the old 27th congressional district.