Assemblyman Adam Gray: a huge financial success

Submitted: Jun 03, 2016
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 "Interests, not people, are represented in Sacramento. Sacramento is the market place of California where grape growers and sardine fishermen, morticians and osteopaths bid for allotments of state power. Today there is scarcely an interest group that has failed to secure some form of special legislation safeguarding its particular interests." Carey McWilliams, California: The Great Exception, (1949). p. 213.

The McClatchy Chain's endorsement of Assemblyman Adam Gray for reelection lightly glosses over his "careful and considered votes on difficult issues" and leaps forward to prolonged contemplation of his $1-million-plus war chest.

If you are interested in Gray's record on key votes, check here: https://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/138552/adam-gray#.V1Hk5JErKUk. We were interested in his vote against raising the minimum wage (SB3), his vote against SB350 to establish renewable energy production targets, voted against amending groundwater laws or establishing groundwater sustainability plans (AB1739, SB1168, SB1319), did not vote on amendments for penalties for cocaine possession, (SB 1010) ...The list also contains many votes we could agree with because not all special interests operating in the state Legislature are anti-social -- some pro-unionized labor issues, for example.

"Money," as former Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh instructed the California Legislature in bygone times, "is the mother's milk of politics." We simply choose one example of a source of campaign funds for our beemish boy: gambling. PokerNews.com provides a rundown on Gray's profound involvement in different aspects of gambling in California. In this Gray stands in the company of some mighty supporters of Indian-reservation gambling: Jack Abramoff (2006-2010, inmate # 7593-112 in the Federal Correctional Institution at Cumberland MD), ex-Rep. Richard Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy (around whose neck former Rep. Pete McCloskey hung Casino Jack like a dead chicken, costing Pombo his seat), and ex-Rep. Dennis Cardoza, the Pimlico Kid, once of Merced, then of Annapolis MD.

For additional information on Assemblyman Gray, consider Badlands Journal's: "Assemblyman Adam Gray's graduate course at the Calderon School of Dynasty Engineering," Nov. 21, 2013 (see below). As for the vital political information about state Senator Cathleen Galgiani's unserious opposition, we, the public, through the critical faculties of the McClatchy Chain editorial board, no doubt have Robin Adam to thank. Adam is Assemblyman Gray's uncle, and his salary as Sen. Galgiani's legislative director is reported by the state Senate to be $7,776.00/month or $93,312/year plus the perks abundantly lavished upon elder political hacks for their loyalty. The mother's milk of politics values discretion above nearly all other forms of human worth; and the older the hack, the more he has to be discrete about.

His elected nephew, Assemblyman Gray, makes $100,113 plus more lavish perks, benefits and retirement. 

--blj

5-19-16

Merced Sun-Star

Gray deserves to be re-elected to Assembly

After Opinski drops out, Gray running unopposed

Galgiani has three opponents, but none appear to be serious

Both legislative candidates have enormous campaign war chests

The Editorial Board

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/editorials/article78718607.html

, Assemblyman Adam Gray has an opponent for his 21st District seat. Technically, he could lose this election in on June 7.

Practically speaking, there isn’t a ghost of a chance that will happen.

Why? Mostly, because Gray is doing what he’s supposed to do – making careful and considered votes on difficult issues, representing his constituents and playing by the rules. Though we’ve found opportunities to disagree with him, we cannot ask for more from an elected official.

Adam Gray deserves to be re-elected.

Still, voters in Merced and Stanislaus counties will see Greg Opinski’s name on the ballot. He’ll get some votes just because there’s an R next to his name, but his chances of winning are infinitesimally small.

Mainly, that’s because Opinski has publicly withdrawn. But he wouldn’t have had much chance if he had remained. Gray is a formidable campaigner, and he has the donations to prove it.

The assemblyman has amassed a campaign war chest exceeding $1 million, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Two years ago, Gray was unopposed until a last-second write-in candidacy by Jack Mobley (currently running for the Merced County Board of Supervisors). Behind the scenes, state Republican Party chair Jim Brulte was pushing hundreds of thousands of dollars into an effort to beat Gray.

It didn’t work. But it did compel Gray to beef up his fundraising in case other such challenges arose.

Gray has raised $250,000 since last October and only a fraction has come from local donors. Most contributions have come from professional organizations, businesses, casino-owning Indian tribes, unions, farming interests throughout the valley and lobbyists. In all, Gray has nearly 500 donors – including dozens in the district.

Many believe all political donations come with strings. But one advantage to raising lots of campaign cash, and having hundreds of donors is that if one makes an unreasonable demand, the candidate can tell him or her to take a hike.

Another advantage is that having extra cash allows the politician to make friends. It’s not uncommon for politicians to contribute to the campaigns of others. Gray has given $36,000 to the California Democratic Party, along with lesser amounts to several individuals.

Such contributions help politicians accrue political leverage, which can come in handy. There’s nothing illegal or unethical about that. It’s the way the game is played.

We’re not crazy about all the money floating around politics, and we wish there were ways to limit it. For the time being, there isn’t and politicians who want to keep their jobs have raise money if they want to win.

There is another way – once elected, do your job well. We think Gray has.

3-10-16

PokerNews.com

California Assemblyman Adam Gray: "I Don't Anticipate the $60 Million Figure Changing"

Matthew Kredell

http://www.pokernews.com/news/2016/03/gray-60m-no-changing-24278.htm

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->California Assemblyman Adam Gray says "I don't anticipate the $60 million figure changing."

 California Assemblyman Adam Gray does not view the proposed $60 million horse racing subsidy in online poker bill AB 2863 as a figure up for negotiation.

In his first interview on the topic since joining Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer in introducing the state's latest attempt at online poker legislation on Feb. 19, Gray discussed with PokerNews.comhow the subsidy figure was arrived upon, why the amount shouldn't be of concern to Indian tribes, the potential for player pooling, and the criminalization of playing on unlicensed sites.

The inclusion of an annual subsidy in exchange for the horse racing industry foregoing its right to operate Internet poker sites was the major development in this bill, sparking new hope for breaking a stalemate between the tribes and tracks that has kept legislation from moving forward.

But while many in the industry speculated that the amount was a starting point for negotiation, Gray clarified that it's issues such as suitability standards and taxes/fees that he intends to be up for debate.

"I don't anticipate the $60 million figure changing," Gray said. "I'm not in the process of negotiating that with anybody and haven't put that on the table as a point of negotiation."

How the $60 Million Figure Was Determined

Gray explained how horse racing's share was determined. It has nothing to do with projections of Internet poker revenue in California, but instead with the finances of the horse racing industry.

To ascertain the subsidy, he started with the 2014 takeout distributions made in the industry according to the Horse Racing Law and added 20 percent to each pot. So the purses of $150 million get an additional $30 million, the track commissions of $126 million get $24 million, and the breeding incentive awards of $10.5 million get $2 million. Add in $1 million for retirement and welfare plans plus $3 million for the California fair industry, and there's the $60 million.

Chris Grove of OnlinePokerReport.com projects online poker revenue in California to be between $178 million and $254 million in its initial year and reach $278 million to $382 million when the market reaches maturity in its fifth year.

At that rate, it would take a dominance of the marketplace to come close to $60 million in profit. It's likely no site would attain that figure.

The number has been well-received by representatives of the horse racing industry, but tribes, while being generally supportive of the bill, have questioned the amount. Dave Palermo ofOnlinePokerReport.com quoted two tribal representatives as saying the figure wasn't real world and needed to be rolled back.

Gray indicated that Indian tribes shouldn't be concerned with the subsidy amount for horse racing because it's not coming out of their end.

"The state is going to authorize Internet poker and put fees and taxes on it," Gray said. "How we decide to spend our fees and taxes is nobody's business but the state's. We're compensating horse racing because right now they are the only online gaming in California, and they're giving up that opportunity to be licensed for online poker in California, which will be an expansion of online gaming in the state. It's not a point of discussion on the table regardless of how anyone may feel. If you're operating an online poker site, how we're dealing with the horse racing industry is irrelevant to your operation."

$60 Million Not Guaranteed

He noted that the $60 million is not guaranteed money, but up to the first $60 million of what is generated by license fees and taxes. That would almost certainly be the full $60 million in the first year because of the one-time license fees, but going forward could be substantially less depending on the success of the market.

Gray deemed this money critical to California's horse racing industry to compete nationally, saying more money needs to be put into purses for tracks to contend with those in other states where they can have slot machines. He also clarified that the bill will allow for tracks to participate as marketing affiliates to licensed operators.

The initial draft proposal of AB 2863 had a $15 million licensing fee and 15-percent tax rate on gross gaming revenue, but they were removed from the bill before introduction. The higher the tax rate and fees, the better it would be for the tracks while being worse for the tribes and card rooms who operate sites.

"We did that because folks raised opposition that 15 percent and $15 million are too high," Gray explained. "It seemed reasonable to me as a starting point for negotiations to leave that blank and have a discussion on what is the right number. We'll probably decide that in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. We'll also have to negotiate with my Republican colleagues, who often times have an opinion about taxes."

Shared Liquidity and Playing On Offshore Sites

The bill would allow operators to pool liquidity between licensees in the state, but does not address the possibility of combining player pools with other states in which online poker is regulated — currently New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. The latter two states already are sharing players.

Even with California's advantage in liquidity as the most populous state in the nation, Gray sees benefit in having agreements with other states.

"I think ultimately we'll discuss it," Gray said. "Nevada didn't have it in their original legislation, either. We get this bill passed and then we can move on to the issue of increasing market share and player pools, which is a reasonable discussion."

The bill does make it a felony for Californians to play on offshore sites, long a point of contention with the Poker Players Alliance. This doesn't seem necessary as other states with this law on the books haven't enforced it against individuals, offshore sites tend to block individuals in states that regulate online poker, and players won't have to look elsewhere if California operators give them a good product. However, Gray sticks by criminalizing offshore play.

"The legislation takes the carrot and the stick approach," Gray said. "Clearly, if I'm saying we need regulation, then we need to crack down. Part of cracking down is saying this is a felony and we're not going to allow that activity, which will hopefully drive them to a California site. I think both approaches are important."

What's Next for AB 2863?

Gray expects an April hearing for the bill in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, which he chairs. He declined to offer any predictions for the bill's chances of passing, other than to say that he was going to put in a 150-percent effort into getting it done this year.

There remains concern regarding the level of urgency felt by Gray's colleagues and the state's gaming interests on moving a bill. Assemblyman Mike Gatto told PokerNews last month that he thought there were people who, if they really wanted a bill passed, would have a more collaborative attitude, and that current legislators don't have the same appreciation for tax revenue that existed in 2010 when the state was in financial crisis.

"You have to take people at their word, and at this point all the different stakeholders have said they are open-minded and willing to move something forward to advance Internet poker in California," Gray said. "I believe it when they say something and hopefully they'll keep their word."

Some previous bills in the state have basically been written by gaming interests. Gray and Jones-Sawyer met with stakeholders to get thoughts on the draft proposal before introduction, but inclusion of the subsidy in the draft was their own move that came as a surprise to the state's gaming industry.

"My perspective is that we ought to offer a regulated, safe entertainment option in California," Gray said. "I'm trying to craft a bill to accomplish that goal, one that's good for California and good for consumers. I'm going to shape my own legislation, and hopefully I can convince everyone to come along with it."

However, Gray insists that it's not about reaching a consensus among California's gaming stakeholders but rather in the state legislature.

"There's 120 people who vote in the California state legislature, and none of those stakeholders have a vote," Gray said. "It's important to take testimony and input from people who do business in that area, but at the end of the day it's really up to the 120 of us. We're trying to negotiate with other members of the legislature, and hopefully we can arrive at a consensus among us.

11-21-13

Badlands Journal

Assemblyman Adam Gray's graduate course at the Calderon School of Dynasty Engineering

 http://www.badlandsjournal.com/2013-11-21/008046


Gray said he does not know what issues authorities want to interview him about when they put him before a grand jury early next month in 
Los Angeles. As legislative director for Calderon from 2008 to 2011, Gray said his main job was to provide background material on bills before Calderon voted on them. –  “Assemblyman Adam Gray to testify in FBI's Calderon investigation, Capital Alert, July15, 2013

Although our new assemblyman, Adam Gray, did not graduate from UC Santa Barbara in political science, he did attend the school. And later he did three years of intense graduate study in the service of state Sen. Ron Calderon, learning important lessons about family values in politics. He and his own family have taken these lessons to heart and appear to be engaged in wholesale dynasty emulation: his step father chaired the Merced County Democratic Central Committee until shortly before Gray’s election; his uncle Robin Adam, longtime staffer for former assemblyman and congressman Dennis Cardoza, the Blue Dog Pimlico Kid, and lately state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, Blonde-Stockton, has shepherded young Adam’s political career since the lad chased his first old lady to her car in the SaveMart parking lot to register her to vote Democrat; and his mother has made certain in a number of positions she has held around Merced that the name Candice Adam Medefind would  be boldly illuminated in the flames of organizations she destroyed (including a Presbyterian church).

To further convince us how well he had absorbed the Calderon’s course in Dynasty Engineering, Assemblyman Gray married Cadee Condit, rescuing the young mother from the massage business in Colorado Springs whence she had fled when her father’s dynasty had floundered on the murder of a young female intern in his congressional office.

But “troubled” political dynasties in our area are not the special province of Democrats. The Berryhill Brothers, state Sen. Tom and former Assemblyman Bill, are the sons of Clare Berryhill, who served in both houses of the state Legislature and as director of the state Department of Food and Agriculture. They are in court at the moment, charged by prosecutors from two counties of money laundering through Republican county central committees.

Finally, there is the incipient bi-partisan dynasty of Cannellas: state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, is the son of former Assemblyman Sal Cannella, D-Ceres. Like the Condits, both Cannellas served on the Ceres City Council and as mayors of that great nursery of California politicians (Bill Berryhill also calls Ceres home). Chance Condit, Gary’s grandson, serves on Gray’s staff. As sure as wars over water, there will be Condits, Cannellas and Berryhills running for council seats in Ceres in the future.

A possible explanation is that when political parties stand for nothing or worse, family is all that is left. Or is that right? -- blj

 

10-30-13

Al Jazeera America

The Calderon Dynasty: 30 years of political power

 

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/10/30/the-calderondynasty30yearsofpoliticalpower.html

 

 

 

 

Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit examines the Calderon family's ups and downs since its patriarch's first big win

 

1982: A dynasty begins

Charles Calderon wins a seat in the California State Assembly to represent District 59. A political dynasty is born.

1988: Charles Calderon’s big ambitions

 

Charles Calderon leads the Assembly‘s “Gang of Five” — along with Gary Condit, Steve Peace, Rusty Areias and Jerry Eaves — in an unsuccessful bid to oust Willie Brown as speaker. Brown strips the Gang of Five members of their committee chairmanships and assigns them to small offices.

1990: Move to the Senate

Charles Calderon is elected to the California State Senate, representing suburban Los Angeles.

1991: Electoral defeat

Charles Calderon runs unsuccessfully for the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

1994: Misusing campaign funds

Charles Calderon is re-elected to the Senate. He is also fined $15,000 by the state Fair Political Practices Commission for using campaign funds for personal purposes, including purchasing modeling photos of his wife, a tennis outfit and an entertainer for his son Ian’s birthday party.

1996: Making political history

Charles Calderon becomes Senate majority leader, the first Latino to hold the position in California.

1998: Thomas Calderon enters politics

Charles Calderon gives up his Senate seat due to term limits and runs unsuccessfully for California attorney general.

Charles’ younger brother, Thomas Calderon, wins the Assembly seat for District 58.

2000: Thomas Calderon controls Insurance Committee

Thomas Calderon is re-elected to his seat in the Assembly and becomes chairman of the Insurance Committee.

2001: Charles Calderon fined again

Charles Calderon is fined $18,000 by California‘s Fair Political Practices Commission for 10 campaign finance violations, including spending campaign funds for personal use and failing to report contributions during his bid for state attorney general in 1998.

2002: Ronald Calderon joins family business of politics

Thomas Calderon runs unsuccessfully for the Assembly’s 58th District after Charles Calderon becomes ineligible to run because of term limits.

2006: Ronald Calderon joins the Senate

Ronald Calderon leaves the Assembly and is elected to a seat in the state Senate. Meanwhile, Charles Calderon wins the Assembly’s District 58 seat.

2007: The movie business

Ronald Calderon becomes a member of the California Film Commission, which promotes the California movie industry and determines which film projects receive a piece of the $100 million in state tax credits offered annually.

2008: Ronald Calderon heads Insurance Committee

Ronald Calderon becomes chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee.

2011: Swelling influence in new positions

Charles Calderon becomes majority floor leader of the Assembly.

Ronald Calderon becomes vice chair of the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

2012: The dynasty continues

Thomas Calderon runs unsuccessfully for the Assembly’s 58th District after Charles Calderon became ineligible to run due to term limits.

Ronald Calderon launches a campaign for the U.S. Congress but withdraws his candidacy early.

Ian Calderon, the son of Charles Calderon, wins a seat in the Assembly representing the 57th District. He is assigned to the Insurance Committee.

 

Modesto Bee

11-12-13 Money laundering trial begins for Modesto-area Berryhill brothers BY GARTH STAPLEY   http://www.modbee.com/2013/11/12/3026467/laundering-trial-begins-for-berryhills.html

 

 

 — Modesto-area brothers Tom and Bill Berryhill broke state laws in 2008 by laundering $40,000 in campaign money through Republican central committees in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, a prosecutor said Tuesday morning at a trial with big political implications.

Tom Berryhill, now a state senator, sat at the defense counsel table and is expected to testify in coming days. As a state assemblyman at the time, he had no trouble raising big money while his brother was running for the first time in a tight Assembly race and needed a cash infusion for a last-minute television hit piece on his opponent, a prosecutor said.

“Tom Berryhill needed to get money to his brother very badly,” said Neal Bucknell, attorney with the California Fair Political Practices Commission. “They decided to send it through the central committees. It’s a straight-up money-laundering case.”

The trial, before an administrative law judge, is expected to last as long as nine days and is considered unusual for its heavy focus on an aggressive defense by the Berryhills and the central committees. Attorneys on both sides said almost all witnesses will be called to support defense claims that the money exchange was not a conspiracy.

Bill Berryhill’s campaign manager “was ringing the bell everywhere he could to raise money,” defense attorney Charles Bell said, but “there was no agreement between them and the central committees to commit laundering.”

At stake are penalties of as much as $80,000, as well as the reputations of several Republican power brokers. The central committees are defendants as well.

The Stanislaus GOP group is being investigated in a separate case on its suspected role in funneling $1.7 million in later years to candidates throughout California at the behest of state party leaders.

“This is a death penalty-type case for the central committees,” Bell said in his opening statement. The idea that they owed a duty to state leaders that involved breaking the law “seems to be illogical and absurd,” he added.

The last-minute TV ad in 2008 attacking Bill Berryhill’s Democratic opponent, John Eisenhut, may have helped Berryhill prevail with 51percent of the vote, and the Berryhills became the first brothers to serve in the Assembly at the same time in nearly six decades. They are sons of the late Clare Berryhill, a longtime Republican legislator who also served as state director of food and agriculture.

Tom Berryhill subsequently moved to Twain Harte and was elected to the state Senate. Bill Berryhill won re-election in 2010, about the time state ethics investigators launched the probe leading to this trial. He narrowly lost a Senate bid two years later to Cathleen Galgiani despite a $320,000 contribution from the Stanislaus central committee; that donation is part of the current investigation and is not related to the trial.

Knowing his brother needed quick campaign cash, Tom Berryhill on Oct. 28, 2008, held an event that raised $50,000. He sent $20,000 to the Stanislaus committee on Oct.30 and another $20,000 on Oct.31 to the San Joaquin group. The committees donated $20,000 and $21,000, respectively, to Bill Berryhill on the same days they received his brother’s contributions.

The Berryhill-Einsenhut campaign was “targeted,” or expected to draw unusual party attention because both sides hoped to win the seat with sufficient support, as opposed to others considered safe for either party. Safe contests typically draw little party support.

But neither committee gave more than $250 to Bill Berryhill before the last-minute infusion, according to testimony.

Tom Berryhill had given his brother the maximum allowed under law – $3,600 at the time, Bucknell said – while parties had no such ceiling.

Tom Berryhill used two committees as straw donors to conceal that he gave the $40,000, authorities suggest, because the law prohibited a candidate from receiving more than $30,200 from a single committee.

Dale Fritchen, chairman of the San Joaquin committee, testified that he alone decided how to spend Tom Berryhill’s donation.

“No one told me, ‘Here is a check; we want you to give it to somebody else,’” Fritchen said. “That didn’t happen. I would have been very offended by that.”

The Stanislaus committee in 2009 got into trouble for helping San Diego politician Joel Anderson launder money to his own campaign. Anderson was fined $20,000, and Fresno’s central committee $29,000, but the Stanislaus group got off with a warning letter.

“It just shows that’s how they do business,” Bucknell said, citing the Anderson case, “and that deprives the public of (knowing) the true source of the funds.”

Emails between involved parties suggest collusion, the prosecution team says.

Bell said it’s not enough for the FPPC to draw inferences of conspiracy. A penalty demands hard proof, he said.

In a recorded deposition viewed Tuesday, Bill Berryhill’s campaign manager, Carl Fogliani, said he did not recall whether he pressured Tom Berryhill for money.

But Fogliani did not dispute having described, in a conversation with Tom Berryhill, his brother’s depleted campaign bank account as “damn scary” and saying his “ass was hanging in the wind.” That was just before Tom Berryhill’s fundraiser and the subsequent money transfers.

Fogliani, appearing defiant and annoyed during questioning, said he pushed for an aggressive TV ad to counter Eisenhut’s “nasty” claims about Bill Berryhill. Fogliani’s commercial accused Eisenhut of getting a golden parachute from a bank CEO job and of being involved in the type of predatory lending that had caused foreclosures. Both were hot topics in late 2008.

“We were trying to run a positive campaign, until the other side decided to take liberties and attack Bill,” Fogliani said. “It’s not bean bags. He was in a glass house. We punched back.”

Gov. Jerry Brown in August appointed Eisenhut to the California Air Resources Board.

In addition to money laundering charges, Tom Berryhill is accused of failing to disclose, as required by law, gifts of Disney tickets worth $244 and tickets to a Keith Urban concert, valued at $59.50, from the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians.

Two weeks ago, the FPPC made headlines by extracting a record $1 million penalty from two Arizona entities that conspired to launder $15 million in California campaign money last year…

 

 

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