This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
Republican congressional candidate Ricky Gill canceled a Stockton fundraiser that was to be co-hosted by a businessman whose son was just indicted on federal marijuana charges.
Those who brought the event to my attention believe Gill's association with anyone under federal investigation or indictment is damning, especially given that this is the second instance. My colleague, Lisa Vorderbrueggen, has written about the Gill family's business connections to -- and Gill's own campaign contributions, later returned, from -- Harvey Whittemore, the Nevada lobbyist now under federal indictment in a campaign-finance scandal.
But this seems like a somewhat different matter, given the debate now raging in California and elsewhere over the Obama Administration's crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries operating in accordance with state and local laws.
The $125-per-person fundraiser was to be held tomorrow, Thursday, July 26, at Le Bistro, a Stockton restaurant co-owned by Bruce Davies, a local Realtor; the Davies family was listed among the event's co-hosts. Bruce Davies in 2010 had applied to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Stockton, according to the Stockton Record, and had proposed using part of Le Bistro's kitchen to
Matthew Davies, Bruce Davies' son, was indicted by a federal grand jury this month on marijuana cultivation charges; he and two other Stockton men are accused of having grown marijuana in a warehouse and a home within the city.
The Stockton Record reports that a multiagency probe began last September after Davies told a CHP officer that he was on his way to his marijuana storage facility, where he stored marijuana for his Medizen dispensary in Sacramento, because the burglar alarm had gone off -- hardly an effort to hide his activities. Federal agents later seized 1,962 plants and 40 pounds of processed marijuana from the warehouse, which also apparently had supplied the Central Valley Caregivers Cooperative in Stockton.
Gill is running against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District. McNerney in 2008 reversed his previous opposition to medical marijuana, voicing support for an amendment that would bar the federal government from spending money to investigate and prosecute those who are operating in accordance with their states' medical marijuana laws.
Gill spokesman Colin Hunter today said the campaign canceled the fundraiser as soon as Matthew Davies' indictment was reported in the Record, and Gill has not received any contributions from the Davies family.
"This is a transparent attempt to distract from the real issue in this campaign: Jerry McNerney's utter failure to stand up for our communities in Congress on jobs, foreclosures and agriculture," Hunter said. "Perhaps the Democrats ought to worry about the real contributions McNerney took -- from big banks and from Solyndra's lead investor, to name just a few -- rather than the hypothetical contributions Ricky didn't."
Hunter said Gill "does not object to the legitimate, physician-prescribed use of marijuana to treat serious, chronic or debilitating illnesses. He believes state and federal governments should work together to craft a sensible enforcement plan that will hold accountable those individuals operating outside or in clear violation of medical marijuana regimes, but will not penalize seriously ill patients seeking only to manage their pain."
So, how scandalous would it have been if Gill had raised money from people linked to medical marijuana? Lots of Bay Area politicians have taken contributions from people connected to local dispensaries. But consider who and where Gill is: What flies in the mostly Democratic Bay Area might not fly for a Republican in that Central Valley-centric district (even if Democrats have a 7-point registration edge there).