Monday, July 31, 2017




          There are plenty of problems with the kind of one-party government California now has, with every statewide office in the hands of Democrats, who also hold two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

          It’s easier to pass taxes this way and budget discipline can be hard to find, to name just two. But the one-party dominance also allows for addressing some rank injustices after they’ve spent years as festering societal wounds.

          Cash bail is one of those. Get arrested, whether you’re guilty of a crime or not, and there’s a good chance you’ll have to put up thousands of dollars in cash, real estate or other valuables to avoid spending many months in jail. One springtime report from the non-profit Human Rights Watch found that 459,847 persons were jailed in California for felony offenses between 2011 and 2015 – but never found guilty of any crime. They accounted for just under one-third of all arrests during that time and it cost California counties an average of $114 per day to keep them in custody, a total of more than $1 billion.

          While a large majority of arrests were for good cause, hundreds of thousands were detained for days, weeks or months without good reason.

          The average bail set in those cases approximated $50,000, with variances by county and by the type of crime involved. For many persons unable to come up with such a sum, bail bond agents are an answer. The agents often put up 10 percent of the bail amount for an accused person, and are responsible for the rest if the suspect jumps bail or does not turn up for scheduled court dates.

 The accused (or friends and relatives) must pay that 10 percent, or $5,000 when bail is set at the typical $50,000. That money is not returned.

          “With a lot of low income families, $500 can be a lot to come up with – so $5,000?” San Francisco City and County Treasurer Jose Cisneros told a reporter. “Particularly $5,000 they are never going to see again.” That’s why many prisoners don’t make bail and languish for months before trial.

          This, in turn, can cause them to lose jobs and see their children put into foster case, often for months or years after their eventual release.

          So bail can be a punishment just for being poor. That reality got little attention in Sacramento until this year, but now Democratic state Sen. Robert Herzberg of Los Angeles (a former state Assembly speaker) and Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Alameda, another Democrat, want to rectify the frequent injustices.

          A Bonta reform measure died in the Assembly in June, but Hertzberg’s virtually identical bill to ease bail passed the Senate. Now making its way through various Assembly committees, it’s an attempt to ensure no one now jailed and awaiting trial is held merely because of finances.

          Counties would have to set up an evaluation system to make sure no one gets an “own-recognition” release if there’s any threat to the community or any flight risk. There’s an apparent consensus that prior criminal records will have to be considered. But no cost figure is yet attached to the new bureaucracy that would result.

          Said the normally ultra-liberal San Diego Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, “I don’t see how this works without spending a lot of money.”

          So, like the single-payer health insurance bill that passed the Senate earlier this year only to die in the Assembly for lack of financial details, this equally humanitarian effort at equalizing bail treatment for all suspects leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

          No one now questions the essential inequality of today’s bail setup, where the wealthy usually walk free while most poor suspects stay in jail. But no one also doubts the assertion of the Golden State Bail Agents Assn. that reform would see “the mass release of defendants.”

          For sure, any fix for this flawed system will see plenty of would-be defendants freed. The trick will be to make sure as many of the newly-freed as possible are among the one-third of all arrestees who will never be convicted of anything. Sadly, no one right now knows how to make those judgments.


     Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to



Third in an occasional series of columns based on interviews with major candidates for governor of California


    Gavin Newsom has a reported net worth of more than $10 million, an ownership interest in more than a dozen businesses from wineries to hotels and a steadfast, almost lifelong friendship with plutocrat Gordon Getty.

          Yet he’s running for governor (and has led the polls since he declared for the office well over a year ago) as an advocate of poor people.

          “I care deeply about the issue that will define our time – not just wage equality but wealth equality,” the lieutenant governor and former seven-year San Francisco mayor, said in an interview. “I don’t think people are talking about this nearly enough. I know this: It’s not just government that has to work on this; businesses have a role to play, not just as consumers of talent but also as developers of talent, including much better apprenticeships in many areas where they don’t now exist.”

          There’s little doubt wealth equality will be a major focus in the 2018 campaign, as Newsom and Democratic rivals like former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang all say they want the state and businesses here to do far more for areas with high poverty and unemployment.

          “It’s not just the Central Valley, which unquestionably has problems,” Newsom said. “We have areas of extremely low wealth even in high-come places like Silicon Valley and parts of Los Angeles not far from Beverly Hills and Bel-Air. I’m thinking of places like East Palo Alto and East Los Angeles. And I’m pleased that other Democrats are also talking about some of this. We need to do things to close those gaps, even where they don’t get much publicity.”

          Newsom, thus, looks at California, America and the world and sometimes sees things others don’t. That’s likely not because he’s dyslexic, although that is one reason he rarely reads speeches, preferring to wing it without a script. (Aiding dyslexic children has long been one of his pet causes.)

          “If there’s one thing I’d like people to say about me after I leave office, if I’m elected, it would be something like ‘He looked around corners,’” Newsom said, his way of hoping to be remembered as future-oriented and able to see societal and business trends very early.

          Also, where current Gov. Jerry Brown steadfastly stonewalls questions about the well-documented corruption in some state agencies, Newsom wants to change a few state processes in an attempt to eliminate as much corruption as possible.

          He noted one recent state auditor’s report showing billions of dollars yearly worth of state contracts are awarded without competitive bids, an obvious risk for corruption.

          “We have to reimagine the procurement process for the state,” Newsom said. “Gov. Brown has said reform is overrated. I say it’s underrated.”

          Newsom also feels sure that if elected, he will be remembered as far from timid. He certainly showed daring while mayor of his home town. He’s probably best remembered there for ordering city hall officials to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. “We changed the whole trajectory of the debate on that subject, and look how far it has come,” he said.

          But he’s even prouder of the HealthySF program that makes health insurance available to all uninsured residents of the city, without regard to their immigration status. “You can get an insurance card and get care and you pay on the basis of income,” he said. “It’s unique in America. It puts San Francisco in a better position than anyplace else to survive the Donald Trump-driven health insurance crisis that may be coming.”

          Newsom does not expect his brief 2007 affair with the wife of a close friend and top aide to be much of an issue, in part because it’s far in the past and also because Villaraigosa (like Trump and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) also has a past, prominent affair on his record.

          Nor does he focus much on polls, which indicate he’s led the field for months, but lately show him losing some ground. “Polls mean absolutely nothing to me,” he said, still acknowledging his campaign will eventually conduct private surveys. “I go everywhere in the state and get my messages from seeing people and listening to them.”

     Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to

Monday, July 24, 2017




          No other state has a cap-and-trade system anything like California’s for limiting and, in the long run, vastly reducing production of greenhouse gases behind climate change.

          In fact, the chairmen of every key congressional committee and subcommittee on the environment where this issue is heard are all long-term climate change deniers, best exemplified by Oklahoma’s Republican Sen. James Inhofe, who once said his granddaughter was “brainwashed” when she asked him about the issue. He heads the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works, a job once held by retired California Democrat Barbara Boxer.

          That’s just one way California is different from most of the rest of America, especially the wide swath of “red” states stretching from the Rocky Mountains east to the crest of the Appalachians.

          But the mid-July vote in which California legislators overwhelmingly extended the cap-and-trade program until at least 2030 exemplifies why almost one-third (32 percent) of Californians said in a springtime poll that they’re at least somewhat interested in seceding from the Union.

          On that issue, votes in both houses of the Legislature exceeded the two-thirds supermajority needed to prevent threatened future lawsuits claiming cap-and-trade is a tax, not a fee. It takes that large a margin to pass a new tax, meaning this doesn’t happen very often.

          But it did this time, and seven Republicans who voted for the extension were critical to its getting 55 votes in the Assembly, where 54 out of 80 were needed. There was also a single Republican vote for cap-and-trade in the state Senate, where 27 of 40 votes were needed and the extension actually got 28. The GOP votes were vital because a few Assembly Democrats defected to the “no” side.

          Those eight Republicans made up more than 20 percent of the GOP’s legislative membership; a vote like that to fight climate change could never draw nearly so much Republican support in any other state these days.

          But this is only one area where California is vastly different from most of America. Some other fields where polls and election results show most Californians want policies at variance with those of the Trump Administration and much of Middle America: gun control, sanctuary policies for at least some undocumented immigrants and strong voting rights, to name just three.

          In that light, some are seeing the cap-and-trade vote as more than just an extension of a unique state policy. They see it as something like the first salvo in their wished-for divorce proceeding from the Union.

          This is nowhere better expressed than in an open-letter essay in the new journal Grizzly, published by the nascent California National Party, whose purpose is a push for independence.

          “You can do whatever you want,” the essay says to the rest of America. “You want a country where everyone looks like you? You can have it. You want a government that thinks like you? You can have it. In California, we just had a Senate race where only Democrats ran. You’ll have your own presidential races where the choice is between one conservative Republican and another even more conservative Republican. Good for you. You want no environmental restrictions? You can have it. We’ll shed a tear when you start open-pit mining in Yellowstone, but we won’t do a thing to stop you. You want to establish an Evangelical state religion? We won’t have any say in what you do anymore.”

          That’s putting it pretty strongly, but it represents a little bit of the frustration some Californians felt when several small states imposed their political will last year via the Electoral College.

          “Think about his for a minute,” the essay continues, “You won’t have us always butting in with our political correctness… And don’t worry about losing us. You don’t need us. You’ve got the oil and the gas and the amber waves of grain. You can build pipelines…you can drill offshore.”

          That may be a very fanciful vision, but there’s little doubt about how different California is from most of the rest of America. The secessionists are merely saying they’d like to formalize that reality.

     Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to





          As Gov. Jerry Brown travels the nation and world posing grandly as the Anti-Trump and the ultimate champion of the battle against climate change, he’s plainly very conscious of the legacy he will leave behind when he’s termed out for good after next year.

          But an email controversy that’s dogged him for almost two years remains and it may sully the grand record of accomplishment Brown wants to take with him into retirement.

          More than a year after the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that text messages and emails sent by public officials on their personal devices are public records if they deal with public business, Brown has still not moved to end his problem.

No one but him and the recipients knows whether that’s because there’s something untoward in 63 of his or his office's communications with the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) at the time of the 2013 agreement that saddled consumers with 70 percent of the costs for shutting down the ruined San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, about $3.3 billion.

          When she was state attorney general, current U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris announced investigations both into that agreement and into whether Brown would have to turn over his emails. Harris is long gone from her former office, Brown having heartily endorsed her Senate bid. Her successor, Xavier Becerra, draws headlines for opposing President Trump at every turn, but refuses to say anything about those two investigations, which he has apparently allowed to fizzle.

          The inaction of both Harris and Becerra raises the question of conflict of interest for them. Said Becerra’s press office in an email, “We are the governor’s lawyer… (in this matter).” So the question of whether Brown should be forced to release his emails is being decided by his own lawyer, which may be why the announced investigation has stalled.

          But consumer advocates led by former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre persist in their efforts to learn whether there’s a smoking gun in those emails. It’s already well documented that executives of San Onofre operator Southern California Edison Co. met with former PUC President Michael Peevey (himself a former Edison president) and hashed out the agreement the PUC eventually passed.

          Now Aguirre has been boosted by a friend of the court brief from the city of San Bruno, site of the 2010 explosion of a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight persons and destroyed dozens of homes. Well aware that documents show a close relationship between PG&E and officials of the PUC including Peevey, San Bruno officials wonder why no one at PG&E was punished even though the company was convicted of criminal negligence in the pipeline blast.

          So the city cites the PUC’s long history of trying to “stonewall the production of documents.” It clearly hopes that if an appeals court orders production of the Brown emails, it will also lead to opening of yet more secret communications about PG&E and the San Bruno detonation.

          Meanwhile, current PUC President and former Brown advisor Michael Picker ignored a request to answer questions about both cases. Aguirre’s brief in his appeal for release of the Brown emails cites conflicting Picker testimony about how he decided to vote for the San Onofre settlement.

          “I base my decisions on the evidentiary record of the proceeding,” Picker told a state Assembly committee in 2014. Yet, the PUC later said in refusing to divulge the emails that they reflect “discussions between…Picker and his advisors, the disclosure of which would  reveal (his) thought process regarding the…matter.” Picker, of course, did not tell the Assembly committee about those discussions, which may have included communications with Brown.

          In short, Picker changed his story, and the Brown emails may show why.

          Says Maria Severson, Aguirre’s law partner, “The PUC claims the public interest in withholding the records outweighs the public interest in disclosure,” an argument often made by government officials during cover-ups.

          But Brown must realize that the emails will eventually emerge, even if it’s years after he leaves office. So if there’s no evidence of wrongdoing in them, why not quit stonewalling and just open them up right now?

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit

Monday, July 17, 2017




          Is it political vengeance or merely a Republican President trying to make budget cuts on everything that’s not military?

          That’s the real question about Donald Trump’s first budget as it moves through congressional committees en route to becoming reality. It’s a question that reverberates especially on the West Coast, where not just California, but Oregon and Washington, too, voted heavily against Trump in last year’s election. The mid-Pacific state of Hawaii also strongly opposed Trump.

          The latest proposed budget victim coming to light is the life-saving tsunami detection system that gives early warning to all four of those states (and Republican Alaska) whenever a major earthquake strikes anywhere around the Pacific Rim’s so-called “Ring of Fire,” where those quakes sometimes produce enormously destructive tidal waves thousands of miles from the epicenters.

          Before the system of 39 deep-sea sensors and floating, tethered buoys existed, a tsunami measuring at least 20 feet tall slammed into Crescent City, near the California-Oregon state line in 1964 with very little warning. It decimated the city’s harbor and killed 11 persons who could not escape the city’s harbor in time.

          The early-detection system was in place by 2008 when a tsunami of similar size struck the same place. No one died because there was ample warning.

          Now Trump seeks to cut most of the $12 million federal contribution to maintaining the warning system, reducing staff from 40 full-time positions to 15 and cutting out one of the two tsunami warning centers. He also would end $6 million in safety grants to tsunami-prone states.

This proposal comes at the same time Trump seeks to eliminate the $10 million annual federal contribution to an under-construction earthquake early-detection system that could provide between 30 second and two minutes of notice before large quakes, thus potentially saving hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives.

          Both these systems have had strong backing from both Republican President George W. Bush and his Democratic successor, Barack Obama and it’s looking like a House committee may restore all the funds. That would not change Trump’s intent.

          Before Trump, there was a realization that even if a state went strongly against the eventual winning presidential candidate, the same state nevertheless contained millions of voters who went for the winner. That was how it went in California last year, when almost 4.5 million state residents voted for Trump, even though Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the state by the widest margin since the Franklin Roosevelt in 1936. Trump’s losses in Washington, Oregon and Hawaii were almost as wide.

          There is, of course, no plan for quake warnings on the East Coast, where almost no such shakes occur, but the tsunami warning system does cover Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, all states with low-lying coastal areas, and all of which went Democratic last year.

          Cutting the federal contributions to these systems would be a classic case of being penny-wise and pound-foolish, if a natural disaster should hit without warning and destroy many lives along with billions of dollars in property. Spending by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, even under Trump, would likely dwarf the less than $28 million involved here. That spending could be cut substantially if there were sufficient warning for vehicle owners to get their cars and trucks out of tsunami zones or place valuable but fragile possessions in safe places before an earthquake arrives.

          Unless, of course, Trump should decide that residents of the states involved are not as American as other citizens and decline to issue post-disaster emergency declarations that free up grant money.

          Meanwhile, California would be hit harder than other states if Trump’s much larger planned spending cuts on things like Medicaid, public education and homeland security grants are ratified by Congress. The putative Medicaid cuts alone could lop $24 billion a year worth of California health care, an amount the state’s recent budget surpluses cannot make up.

          It’s still too early to say for sure that all this is pure political revenge for voting against the President. But the more Trump presses cuts in programs that disproportionately affect states like California, which voted against him, the more plausible become suspicions of vengeance.

    Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It" is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit




    For many years, Californians have heard "experts" (read: folks who figure to profit by touting the theory) claim their state suffers from a lousy business climate and is steadily losing middle class population and jobs to other states, especially arch-rival Texas.

          The current national secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, even made radio and television commercials while governor of Texas touting the advantages of moving there. And there have been moves: a major one is the ongoing shift of Toyota’s U.S. headquarters from Torrance to Plano, Tex., outside Dallas.

          Through all the rhetoric, some of it orchestrated by corporate move specialists plainly out to fatten their own wallets, California continues growing, with population now above 39 million, more than the entire country of Canada and 12 million more than fast-growing Texas.

          Yes, plenty of youthful, educated Californians feel compelled to move away by the high prices of real estate in the state’s largest urban areas. And some corporations try to accommodate those moves by establishing satellite facilities in places like Boise and Tucson, where homes can be bought for less than one-third the price of comparable real estate in coastal California counties.

          But there’s a reason California keeps growing despite it all: the state’s economy is fundamentally healthy. A new, comprehensive study from the business-oriented personal finance WalletHub website ( finds this state’s economy is not only strong, but is the second-strongest in America, trailing only Washington state.

          WalletHub ranks California in the top five among states in startup activity, percentage of jobs in high-tech industries and patents granted to individuals. Texas, meanwhile, ranks 20th overall and is not among the top five states in any significant category.

          This comes despite the fact that Texas and other states not in the top five overall often offer businesses discounted land, plus years of tax benefits, in exchange for moving.

          What gives California its top-flight rating? The state is 7th in the U.S. in growth of gross domestic production, 15th in exports per capita despite its humongous population, tenth in median household income despite its host of low-income undocumented immigrants, eighth in upswing of nonfarm payrolls and last year had the seventh-largest state budget surplus per capita.

          None of this shuts up the critics. And no one can seem to stop Texans from trying to denigrate California. While he’s no Rick Perry in the department of foot-in-mouth rhetoric, current Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently disparaged his own state capital of Austin by saying “I will not allow Austin, Texas, to California-ize the Lone Star State.” Of course, Austin has been trying to do that to itself for years, creating a mini version of Silicon Valley, but with lower real estate prices.

          The oil and natural gas price bust, fueled in part by a fracking-induced surplus and also by California’s pioneering and widely-emulated emphasis on renewable energy, has had plenty of deleterious effects on Texas.

          For example, average wages in California – higher than those in Texas for decades – grew much faster the last two years here than there. The California economy overall outgrew Texas’ last year by 2.9 percent to 0.4 percent, reported the Houston Chronicle.

          This doesn’t make California perfect. For example, the state’s real poverty rate (based on average income compared to basic expenses) is the nation’s highest, chiefly because of high rents and home prices. But that statistic also is flawed: When four-bedroom coastal homes routinely sell for $2 million and up, they tend to skew the average real estate price that’s part of the “real poverty” calculation. The same for rents when three-bedroom houses in coastal cities often go for $6,000 per month or more.

          The upshot is that the folks Gov. Jerry Brown likes to call “declinists” have been exaggerating California’s impending demise for many years. Reality is the same as it’s been for most of the last century and a half: California outstrips the rest of America in almost every economic area.


     Email Thomas Elias at His book, "The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It," is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to

Monday, July 10, 2017




          There’s a good chance that using union dues for politics will become harder within a year or two and, one thing for sure: big labor will not easily accept that kind of new reality.

Three times in the past 15 years, ballot initiative campaigns led by conservative Republicans tried unsuccessfully to truncate the power and influence of California’s labor unions, both public employee organizations and others.

          “Paycheck protection” was the label applied to those efforts, which sought to prevent unions from using dues money raised via automatic payroll deductions for political purposes. The most recent such effort, in 2012,  looked to force unions to get authorization each year from each member before their dues money could be used for candidate contributions, canvassing for votes or circulating initiative petitions.

          Labor unions pushed back each time, claiming that if paycheck protection ever becomes law, the political playing field will be tilted strongly to the right, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowing almost unlimited contributions from billionaires and businesses, while unions would have one hand tied behind their backs.

          The union arguments prevailed politically, but conservatives did not give up. Rather than appeal to voters, since 2012, they’ve tried to convince judges.

          They came very close to winning this long-running battle last year, when the case of Friedrichs vs. the California Teachers Assn. (CTA), taking the name of Orange County schoolteacher Rebecca Friedrichs, a dues-for-politics opponent, was turned down on a 4-4 U.S. Supreme Court vote soon after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

          Now, the high court may be about to take up a similar case from Illinois, and with new Justice Neil Gorsuch expected to join the panel’s four previous conservative judges in backing paycheck protection, the idea might win.

          At least in California, unions are not taking this lying down. One huge public employee union is about to hike the fees it charges members who don’t want to fund its political advocacy.  Local 1000 of the Service Employees International Union, state government’s largest union, is raising the minimum amount of dues it charges those employees by 6 percent, or about $5 per month each. The increase comes under a state law allowing unions to charge employees who are not full members for legal and bargaining expenses run up for the sake of workers.

          At the same time, the CTA – by far the state’s largest teachers union and a major political factor for decades – got its friends in the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown to back two state budget trailer bills requiring school districts, cities, counties and other government agencies to give unions representing their workers regular chances to meet and sign up new members.

          The unions realize that unless they do something, their membership and influence will decline sharply as many conservative-leaning union members – long forced to pay for labor’s political advocacy whether they like it or not – start opting out if paycheck protection becomes federal law. Some estimates put possible union losses between 20 percent and 40 percent of their current political revenues – unless they recruit heavily.

          But school districts and other agencies will have the right to negotiate terms of those union recruiting meetings. This may delay their start indefinitely or cause them to be very brief.

          Union fears were well expressed the other day by Joshua Pechthalt, president of the state’s second-largest teacher union, the California Federation of Teachers, who told a reporter that “Anything to mitigate a loss of membership would be helpful.” He added that if paycheck protection becomes law, “Our world will change dramatically. (So) having time to talk about what we do, who we are…will become doubly important.”

          One group that could opt out en masse of all so-called “agency fees,” the dues charged now to employees who don’t actually belong to unions that bargain for them, is part-time teachers at community colleges and California State University campuses.

          For sure, California has a lot riding on the likely new Supreme Court case. But whatever happens, don’t expect unions to accept it meekly. The new meet-and-greet law is likely only their first move toward retaining and possibly expanding their current powerful role.

    Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is 




Hand over all the information you have on every voter in your state, went the demand from President Trump’s newly appointed Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity. That included a list of all registered voters’ names, birth dates, party identification and voting histories, plus the last four digits of all voters’ Social Security numbers.

So much for the old-fashioned secret ballot.

So sweeping was the demand that even the commission’s vice chairman and de facto chief – the man who signed the order – said his own state of Kansas would refuse to turn over Social Security numbers to his own commission.

What would the federal government do with all this information, if it were turned in? The commission and that vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, won’t say. But it’s common knowledge that should the data get into demonstrably hackable federal computers, it would be fair game for almost anyone from corporations to foreign powers like Russia, which already has an alleged history of stealing electoral data bases.

This was the second major assault by Trump’s administration on citizen privacy, the first coming when his appointees to the Federal Communications Commission announced in May they plan to rescind previous “net neutrality” rules that prohibit commercial use of customer information held by Internet service providers.

California was the first state to react to the voter information demands, with Secretary of State Alex Padilla announcing the day the demands arrived that he would fill none of them. Within a week, he was joined by the top voting officials of 43 other states, including many considered rock-ribbed Republican red, like Kentucky, Indiana and Mississippi.

Said Padilla, “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally (in 2016). California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the vice president and Mr. Kobach.”

His GOP counterpart in Mississippi was more colorful. “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” said Delbert Hosemann. Louisiana Republican Tom Schedler added that “The commission has quickly politicized its work by asking for an incredible amount of voter data that I have (always) refused to release.”

Fortunately for voters who could be at risk for identity theft if Padilla and his colleagues complied with commission demands, Kobach’s group (formally headed by Vice President Mike Pence) has no subpoena powers and there is no known penalty for not cooperating. Maybe that’s why Kobach is refusing one of his own demands. It is also true that the Constitution gives each state the power to conduct its own elections.

          But Padilla was probably correct, too, in guessing that Kobach & Co. have already decided what their report (due in mid-2018) will say. He’s the one who spurred Trump to claim that his loss of the popular vote to Hillary Clinton last year was solely because of illegal immigrant voters.

          Neither Trump nor Kobach ever presented evidence for the claim of massive illegal voting, a charge Kobach has made for at least 10 years, since his days as a lawyer for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, long classed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law center.

          As secretary of state, Kobach has tried for years to ferret out illegal aliens voting in Kansas. Wikipedia reports that as of last spring, he had found six cases of illegal voting in his six-plus years in office; all involved double voting, none by undocumented persons.

          As Padilla noted, there is no basis for or proof of claims that massive illegal immigrant voting occurs or ever has. Republicans first made the claim when Democrat Loretta Sanchez in 1996 ousted longtime Orange County GOP Congressman Robert Dornan, one of the biggest upsets ever in California politics. The GOP majority in the House investigated then for electoral irregularities, but found so few even it had to admit the phenomenon was insignificant.

          The bottom line: This is one more form of California resistance to Trump administration attempts at actions that are political anathema here. Resistance has never been more justified than in this case.

     Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government's Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is