Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Uncle Izzy for Congress: Too Close for Comfort?

State Sen. Hall Isadore Hall (Uncle Izzy)
State Senator Isadore Hall just got elected to the upper chamber in Sacramento. That special election was December 9th, yet barely two percent of the eligible voting population showed up.
Still, the 35th State Senate district is 60% Democrat, so that even a low voter turnout in itself could not prevent Hall from winning the seat.

More money, more outreach, some attention from top brass in Sacramento, and engaging all the Republican voters (even if only 19%) would have made the race competitive.

Now Uncle Izzy is running for Congress, to replace Janice Hahn, who has set her sights on the LA County Board of Supervisors.

Former Assemblyman Steve Bradford is waiting in the wings to run for State Senate, replacing Isadore Hall.

This merry-go-round of political mountaineering is getting way out of hand.

Whatever happened to representative government?

The Alameda Corridor, from San Pedro to Compton, is turning into a stomping ground for easy Democrats gains. It wasn't always this easy. Late 1980s, and Lakewood Republican Paul Zeltner carried an assembly seat in the district, partly relying on a divided Democratic vote between Ed Waters (son of Crazy Black Lady Maxine) and a former Compton city official. Also, Zeltner had strong ties to the community for decades, partly as a sheriff, but also following his tenure on the Lakewood City Council.

Democratic voters, all residents in the region, deserve more than a coronation. Conservatives who care about life and  family, who demand security from the state as well as criminals on the street should expect more from their representatives than  a streamlined daisy chain of politicians who jump from one office to the next.

And why would anyone want Uncle Izzy in Washington, anyway?

Yes, he promoted building a football stadium in Inglewood, CA.

What legislation has Hall advanced in Sacramento? Condoms in adult films and a statewide ban on the Confederate Flag.

Aside from covering porn stars and removing the Stars and Bars, what else has Hall been doing?

The Los Angeles Times reported that his spending habits, and the gifts an donations he has received, conflict with his role as impartial representative for working class communities.

Hall's fundraising and spending habits have attracted the attention of the state's ethics watchdog agency three times, resulting in two warning letters and an advice letter.

A state representative's reputation should rest on more than odd or dubious expenditures.

Last year, Hall reported accepting more than $2,000 worth of meals as gifts from special interests and others, including a $221 dinner provided by the state prison guards union, a $207 meal by the Cigar Assn. of America and a $141 supper by the Commerce Casino.


Hall has used campaign funds to attend the Kentucky Derby, including once to conduct "legislative research" as chair of the committee overseeing horse racing, and other times for campaign fundraising.

Just to watch the horses? Well, did he place any bets, too? More concerned partisans in the South Bay should start betting if more improprieties emerge in relation to his campaign spending. Does Hall live in his Senate District, too?

Hall's Senate campaign committees have spent at least $70,000 on food, drink and other expenses for fundraisers, campaign strategy meetings and legislative staff planning sessions during the last two years, including $635 for a meeting at Spago Maui.

Do planning sessions require such lavish expenditures? He spends money to make money, but the spends the money on other candidates. What gives? Then again, since he expects little challenge in his run for Congress, he can permit raising money then spending it on other issues.
Hall's Senate committees have spent $7,812 on cigars and membership at cigar lounges during the period and $42,000 on airfare and hotels. Expenses include $11,000 to stay at the Fairmont Hotel in Kihei, Hawaii, while Hall attended a conference.

How does Uncle Izzy justify his spending habits?
Hall said his campaign spending is legal and open for the public to see — part of an effort "making sure that I talk to every voter in the district."

How did Uncle Izzy plan to reach out to constituents in Kentucky or Hawaii? Perhaps Hall has the same problem as former senator Roderick Wright.

There was also one questionable expense which the LA Times and the Daily Breeze targeted:

Although he defends most of his campaign spending, he distanced himself from one expense.

Hall's 2012 Assembly campaign committee spent $152 for a meeting of four people, including a campaign advisor, at the Crazy Horse Las Vegas, a nightclub featuring topless dancers.

Hall "absolutely did not authorize that expenditure, and he was not present that evening," said Dave Jacobson, a Hall spokesman. "That expenditure was made by an employee who displayed poor judgment and is no longer involved in Assemblyman Hall's organization.

Even though Hall did not authorize this expense, and reportedly dealt with the staffer, the legacy of borderline unethical use of campaigns funds suggests that Senator Hall is too close for comfort when it comes to corruption. If the state senator operates with a poor sense of public perception, and neglects to follow up on inappropriate funding, why should anyone trust him to do any better in Congress? Beyond that, his immediate list of endorsements and announcements for "Aunt Janice's" Congressional seat, well over a year in advance, also shows that the political machinery/chicanery is getting too close to corrupting the entire representative process.

Uncle Izzy, too close for comfort?

Uncle Izzy (seated on the right), getting too close for comfort? (Torrance Democratic Club)

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