Major League Baseball has pulled its All-Star game from Georgia over a new state election law, and Gavin Newsom is offering to host it in California. If the MLB is concerned with “voter suppression,” it should emphatically reject Newsom’s invitation.
Let’s start with a statement by Newsom last October: “Nothing reeks of desperation quite like the Republican Party organization these days – willing to lie, cheat, and threaten our democracy all for the sake of gaining power.”
What was this nefarious “threat to democracy” he was referring to? Ballot collection boxes.
The California Republican Party had made the boxes available to voters, so Newsom teamed up with Attorney General Xavier Becerra to remove them. A Sacramento court stopped this attempt at voter suppression in what the LA Times called “a significant victory for GOP officials who have insisted their ballot collection campaign is following state election law.”
Newsom also tried to suppress all votes for the sitting President of the United States, signing a bill to remove his name from the ballot for not releasing tax returns. The California Supreme Court quickly and unanimously struck the law down. The Chief Justice admonished “it is the voters who must decide” what information “will have consequences at the ballot box.”
On Election Day, many voters went to their usual polling place only to find it wasn’t there. Newsom had signed an Executive Order shutting down up to 90 percent of voting locations. His Order also deprived individuals protected by the Voting Rights Act, including those with disabilities or limited English proficiency, of their statutory right to participate in election planning.
After the election, many people thought they’d get to vote for Kamala Harris’s replacement in the Senate. Newsom had other ideas, appointing his crony Alex Padilla. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst found this will violate the Constitution’s requirement that Harris’s term be completed by an elected Senator. Padilla, incidentally, had himself just “tarnished our election system” by illegally handing $35 million to a partisan PR firm, the Sacramento Bee reported.
While Newsom has used COVID-19 to all but abolish the democratic process, his habit of disenfranchising voters did not begin with the virus. As a candidate, he pledged to “respect the will of the electorate” on a recently passed Proposition to retain the death penalty. But soon after taking office he did just the opposite, granting a reprieve to 737 death row inmates and discarding the votes of 6.6 million Californians.
In a similar vein, last year Californians passed a Proposition to partially overturn AB 5 and keep ridesharing in California. Newsom’s Special Interest allies promptly sued to throw out the vote with a stunning claim that voters can’t override politicians. Such tactics are usually unnecessary with Propositions, however, as the Attorney General sabotages the vote itself by twisting the wording on ballots. The San Jose Mercury News described this as “tricking the electorate into believing they’re voting for one thing when they’re really getting another.”
The Special Interests that control Newsom also own our Legislature, and they’ve perfected a sham legislative process. The Assembly has gone so far as to eliminate the basic requirement that bills get voted on. To kill a bill they don’t like, all lobbyists have to do is tell the committee chair to cancel the vote; this now happens routinely with bills of duly elected legislators in both parties. And new methods are devised every year to exclude the public. Last year the Assembly even tried to get rid of public testimony on bills, only backing down when I introduced a Resolution to stop it.
The State also aids and abets voter suppression by Special Interests themselves. In 2010, a powerful union tried to suddenly collect dues from 5,000 farmworkers in Fresno. When the workers organized a decertification vote, the union began “a harassment campaign that included home visits and physical threats.” After the vote, the union had the state’s corrupt Labor Board, stacked with appointees of the Governor, impound the ballots. The votes were only counted five years later when the California Supreme Court ruled the workers had been “unnecessarily disenfranchised.” 83 percent had voted to reject the union.
Unsurprisingly, suppression has been Newsom’s chosen weapon against the Recall. His allies candidly admitted their strategy was “all about reducing signatures” and referred to signature sheets as “poisonous petitions.” His spokesman falsely claimed the Recall was a “refusal to play by the rules.” His top surrogates held an event branding it “the California Coup,” which the LA Times said “undermined the state’s legitimate direct democracy system.”
Even more jarring, Nancy Pelosi’s daughter Christine, herself a top party strategist, recently revealed a plan to suppress the entire election. If Newsom is polling poorly in the Fall, she told Politico, “it may be that no Democrat could win. Then, he should step down as governor and [Lieutenant Governor] Eleni Kounalakis should be the governor, and they should cancel the election. In that case, the Democratic Party would retain the governorship.”
The effect of this voter suppression is to make the rich richer, the poor poorer, and change harder. It’s a corrupt system designed by and for well-connected people like Gavin Newsom, who became a county supervisor through the patronage of the Gettys, became Mayor of San Francisco through the patronage of PG&E, and became Governor of California through the patronage of the CTA and other unions.
But there is something powerful happening in our state right now. 2.1 million signatures do not appear out of thin air. This a movement to restore government by the people, and even Gavin Newsom’s historic corruption will not be able to suppress it.
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