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Examiner Endorsements: June 7, 2016, Presidential Primary Election

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The California Presidential Primary Election is June 7. (S.F. Examiner file photo)


The June 7 elections are just weeks away. While crucial issues are on this ballot, many of the primary races are mere warm-ups for the November general election, when five city supervisor seats will be in play that could remake San Francisco’s political landscape, as well as a slew of state and national races, including, of course, the presidency.

Players are already jockeying for position with an eye on November, as our endorsements below make clear. None of this works well without an engaged citizenry. We hope this guide contributes to that end. Here is where we stand for the June 7 election:

Proposition A: Public Health and Safety Bond
Proposition B: Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund, Charter Amendment
Proposition C: Affordable Housing Requirements, Charter Amendment
Proposition D: Office of Citizen Complaints Investigations, Initiative Ordinance
Prop. E: Paid Sick Leave, Initiative Ordinance
San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee
Proposition AA
State Senate, District 11
Superior Court Judge, Office 7
State Assembly, 17 and 19
U.S. Congress, District 12
U.S. Congress, District 14
U.S. Senate
U.S. President


Proposition A: Public Health and Safety Bond

San Francisco health, fire and homeless facilities would receive vital seismic upgrades and renovations from this $350 million bond. Taking care of the facilities and systems that ensure our health and safety is an investment we can’t afford to overlook.

The bond would provide $222 million toward seismic upgrades to the Department of Public Health’s campus around the soon-to-open new San Francisco General Hospital, including urgent care and psychiatric emergency services. Another $30 million would help renovate the South East Health Center, and $20 million to other health clinics, including Chinatown Health Center, Castro Mission Health and Maxine Hall.

Another $20 million would go toward homeless shelters for seismic and design improvements. The Fire Department would receive $54 million of the bond money, with $14 million for continued work to upgrade the 42 neighborhood fire stations.

The remaining $44 million would construct a new, centrally located ambulance deployment facility to improve response times to medical emergencies. Assistant Deputy Chief Ken Lombardi said the new facility could decrease response-time significantly, allowing for ambulance refueling and restocking in 15 minutes rather than the current 45 minutes.

Proposition A, which requires two-thirds approval to pass, would not raise property taxes since it is timed to replace retired debt. The measure has the support of the entire Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee.

Yes on A
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Proposition B: Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund, Charter Amendment

Parks are one of our few democratizing safe-zones in this quickly changing city. They are open to all and provide much needed open spaces for recreation and rest in a San Francisco that has grown more restless in recent years. The question Proposition B poses is: How should we care for these public amenities?

The Recreation and Park Department has an operational budget of $160 million — $64 million of which comes from the general fund this fiscal year, a number that fluctuates based on the needs of the department and other departments — as well as the money available to The City as a whole. The percentage of The City’s general fund designated for Rec and Park has fallen from 2.1 percent to 1.2 percent in the last 15 years.

Proponents say as The City has grown over the past 15 years, the funds to take care of city parks have lagged behind and maintenance is rarely performed unless the conditions are dire.

The measure on the June 7 ballot asks voters whether city parks should have steady funding for the next three decades, beginning with annual $3 million increases from the general fund for the first decade.

Unless San Francisco experiences a budget deficit of $200 million or greater, Proposition B would set aside $64 million for Rec and Park next year to grow by $3 million annually until the 2026-27 fiscal year.

Prop. B would also extend by 15 years the Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund, one of the three sources of funding for the park system that comes from property taxes and was created by voters in 2000.

A third aspect of the measure requires Rec and Park to correct disparities at parks in low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods, if any exist.

Many opponents have rightly noted that earmarking city funds for specific causes is bad fiscal policy, and would contradict a 2012 ordinance passed by voters that prohibits setting aside future money for particular departments. But since Prop. B is a charter amendment, it’s not bound by the 2012 law. Still, their criticism stands and should be a reminder that we should think twice about such decisions. In this case, making sure our parks are clean and safe is a smart investment, a vote to preserve the quality of life for The City as a whole.

Endorsement: Yes on B
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Proposition C: Affordable Housing Requirements, Charter Amendment

Proposition C would return power from voters to the Board of Supervisors to change the number of affordable homes — known as inclusionary housing — mandated in residential projects of certain sizes.

While San Francisco has built 4,300 below-market-rate homes in the past decade, it has also lost 3,200 of such homes in the same period. Meanwhile, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment has surpassed $3,500. We need to do more, faster. This measure will be an needed engine for that goal.

Currently, projects with at least 10 homes are required to offer 12 percent of those homes at below market-rate. Developers may also pay a fee or build 20 percent of the homes as affordable off-site.

The passage of Prop. C would enable trailing legislation, introduced by supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin, to require projects with at least 25 homes to include 25 percent of those units as below market-rate, including 15 percent for low-income residents and 10 percent for middle-income residents.

That middle-income bracket would apply to those who work as nurses or teachers, offering that group of a residents a dedicated source of housing in San Francisco for the first time. The City sorely needs to find creative ways to keep these workers living here. This is a good step in that direction.

The legislation also requires the City Controller to issue by July 31 a feasibility study of affordable housing requirements, as well as follow-up studies, which could impact when and if the board adjusts the 25 percent inclusionary housing rate.

Some have opposed the measure on the grounds that it would kill development in The City, that giving so much of new buildings over to lower-income residents would leave no incentive to build. We are confident that developers will find ways to continue to profit by building in San Francisco under Prop. C. Voters are justified demanding a more inclusive and broader residential market.

The Housing Action Coalition, which supports increased affordable housing, has taken a neutral position on the measure, claiming the mandate to make a quarter of new homes below market-rate was not a result of any study that called for such a rate, and the percentage needed may be different.

We understand the objection, and even Kim and Peskin have acknowledged the percentage may need to be tweaked, but the fact remains that The City is in desperate need of housing for low- and moderate-income families, and this measure helps move us in the right direction. The current level of 12 percent for larger developments is woefully inadequate.

Endorsement: Yes on C
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Proposition D: Office of Citizen Complaints Investigations, Initiative Ordinance

It is alarming that not all police shooting incidents in The City are by law already investigated by San Francisco’s police watchdog agency, the Office of Citizen Complaints. Proposition D, if passed, will fix that.

Prop. D would require that all officer-involved shootings, in which someone is injured or killed, are investigated by the OCC and requires that the Police Department cooperate with that investigation. The District Attorney’s Office, which decides whether criminal charges should be filed against the police officers involved, would also investigate, as would the Police Department conduct its own administrative investigation.

Supervisor Malia Cohen, who authored the measure, says Prop. D is needed to increase transparency in order to rebuild public trust. We agree this would be a positive step in this direction, especially in light of recent incidents that have undercut public trust in local law enforcement, particularly in minority communities, including a series of controversial killings by officers and racist text scandals within the department.

While a small percentage of the 31 police shootings in San Francisco over the past five years have been investigated by the OCC, under current local laws the agency only investigates such incidents if a citizen complaint has been filed. No officers have been charged with crimes in any of those incidents.

While requiring the OCC to investigate these incidents by no means would be the sole solution required to address this vexing issue within a troubled department, it is a positive step and should be supported. The cost it would take to increase the workload and staffing of the OCC is a worthwhile investment to start rebuilding independent oversight and public trust in the SFPD.

Endorsement: Yes on D
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Prop. E: Paid Sick Leave, Initiative Ordinance

Proposition E brings San Francisco’s paid sick leave law in line with the state’s. Although The City’s law was passed a decade ago, the 2-year-old state law expands some of the provisions.

Endorsement: Yes on E
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San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee

Five dozen candidates running for a seat on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee is a daunting array of names for voters, and endorsers, to consider. This body, though perhaps unknown to many, is very influential in determining the outcome of future elections in this city, where nearly all elected officials are Democrats.

Not only does the DCCC control influential party endorsements and cash for elections, many local elected officials are also committee members, meaning they can use their DCCC campaign finances, which are unlimited, to push their recognition when campaigning for office — a huge advantage over non-DCCC competitors. With the balance of power on the Board of Supervisors up for grabs this November, the stakes are high for the June vote for DCCC.

The 60 candidates, 10 of which are incumbents, are running for the 24 open seats. To help clarify the dizzying field of candidates, two major slates have emerged: the Progress Slate, comprised of 23 more moderate candidates; and the Reform Slate, a collection of 22 more progressive-leaning candidates, according the local political nomenclature.

The Progress Slate has been ascendant in recent years on the DCCC, mirroring the political climate in City Hall. The question is, has it led reliably or has it caved to the interests, namely that of Realtors, that have hurt the values for which San Francisco stands?

The Reform Slate argues the DCCC is beholden to the special interests of real estate and values that are contrary to San Francisco values, especially with Mary Jung, director of government and community relations with the SF Board of Realtors, as chair. They rightly ask, in an era when affordable housing is the number one issue in The City, should real estate’s top lobbyist be the leader of the local democratic party? The Reform Slate seeks an agenda empowered by progressive politics reminiscent of the 2000s.

It’s time for a fresh look at the DCCC, even with some old faces, to disrupt the influence of special interests that have been entangled in City Hall in recent years. The Reform Slate is our pick to deliver more independence and better deals for the people of San Francisco.

Although we have chosen to endorse slates rather than individual candidates in this race, we want to acknowledge a few candidates who deserve an independent look by voters. These include incumbents Alix Rosenthal and Rebecca Prozan, part of the Progress Slate, who have compellingly exhibited independence on the committee and a dedication to uphold the values of the party. Also newcomers Gary McCoy and Keith Baraka could have bright futures in local politics and deserve consideration.

Endorsement: Reform Slate

DCCC Reform Slate:
17th Assembly District (East Side)- Alysabeth Alexander, Tom Ammiano, David Campos, Petra DeJesus, Bevan Dufty, Jon Golinger, Pratima Gupta, Frances Hsieh, Jane Kim, Rafael Mandelman, Sophie Maxwell, Aaron Peskin, Leroy Wade Woods, Cindy Wu.

19th Assembly District (West Side)- Brigitte Davila, Sandra Lee Fewer, Hene Kelly, Leah LaCroix, Eric Mar, Myrna Melgar, Norman Yee.
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Proposition AA

Opponents have tried to frame this as a inequitable regressive tax to protect wealthy businesses (read: tech) near the Bay Area waterfront. We don’t buy that argument. This regional measure asks voters in the nine local counties to approve a $12 parcel tax to raise $25 million for 20 years to restore and protect the Bay shoreline.

The money would reduce trash, toxins and pollution in the Bay, improve water quality and habitats for fish, birds and wildlife, restore marshland and increase public access to the shoreline.

It’s a small price for such a vital and collective good. The measure must pass by two-thirds collectively among the nine counties.

Endorsement: Yes on AA
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State Senate, District 11

This is a tough call and a fascinating choice. Jane Kim and Scott Wiener have been stellar advocates for their neighborhoods and for The City as a whole as members of the Board of Supervisors, and both would do well bringing their passion to addressing issues on the state level. While we admire both for their ambition to grapple with some of the most significant issues facing The City, we support Kim as the most effective leader for San Francisco in the state Senate at this crucial time.

Wiener is a hard worker who has tackled weighty issues like development transit fees for residential building, solar mandate for new construction and paid family leave. His effectiveness and pragmatism as a supervisor, especially in the areas of public transportation and environmental policy, have translated into many significant victories. But he has also been a polarizing figure who has earned the ire of his more progressive colleagues.

Kim has emerged in recent years as a leader on the Board of Supervisors on core progressive issues with her push for increased affordable housing and eviction protections and efforts to reform the criminal justice system such as by opposing building a new jail.

She is a proven effective negotiator, having reached landmark agreements to significantly boost affordable housing beyond requirements in development deals with the Giants for Mission Rock and for Forest City’s 5M project in the South of Market. She has played a lead role in placing Proposition C on the June ballot, which would boost affordable housing in new development citywide.

Kim has also called for free tuition at City College, advocated for a statewide declaration of emergency to aid homeless residents, and last week became the first high-ranking elected official to urge the removal of Police Chief Greg Suhr to more effectively reform a Police Department rocked by racist text messages and fatal shootings.

She has the support of progressives and tenant groups and has sided against some of the more anti-homeless measures like tent sweeps and backs the right to rest law, for which Weiner sharply rebuked her. She has sided with the progressive majority on issues like restricting commuter shuttles, tougher restrictions for Airbnb and the housing pause in the Mission, all of which Wiener opposed.

This primary election won’t decide the race between the two supervisors. Voters will send the top two candidates to the general election in November to determine who will go to Sacramento as the new state Senator for District 11, replacing termed-out Sen. Mark Leno. Kim and Wiener are certain to finish ahead of Republican challenger Kenneth Loo in the June election. It should be a close race with substantive debates between the two qualified candidates. We give the edge to Kim, whose vision for continuing her fight to promote equitable housing and education for the working families of California is a thrilling prospect.

Endorsement for State Senate, District 11: Jane Kim
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Superior Court Judge, Office 7

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest H. Goldsmith’s retirement opened the door to three local lawyers contending for the post. Victor Hwang is a sitting police commissioner; Paul Henderson works for Mayor Ed Lee on public safety issues; and Sigrid Irias is in private law.

The two top vote-getters in the June primary election will compete in November. If any single candidate takes 50 percent plus one vote, there will be no November election.

Hwang, who serves as deputy Director for the Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, has the strong experience as a civil rights attorney and public defender that will serve him well for the position. He was deputy district attorney in San Francisco from 2007 to 2014, when he prosecuted hate crimes and human trafficking, among other cases. Hwang was appointed to the Police Commission in April 2014. The San Francisco Bar Association ranked Hwang as more qualified than his opponents. We agree with that assessment.

Endorsement: Victor Hwang for Superior Court Judge
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State Assembly, 17 and 19

There are only two candidates in each race, including incumbent Democrats David Chiu (District 17) and Phil Ting (District 19), so all will continue to compete in the November election.
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U.S. Congress, District 12

Nancy Pelosi, minority leader of the House of Representatives, has three challengers in this race, the top two of whom will go on to the general election. We look forward to Pelosi continuing her record of strong and effective leadership in Washington, D.C., and hope that, come the new year, she returns to her role as speaker of the house.

Endorsement: Nancy Pelosi
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U.S. Congress, District 14

Rep. Jackie Speier is running uncontested for reelection.
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U.S. Senate

In a crowded field of 35 registered candidates, this is pretty much a two-person race between state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Southern California’s U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez. The two Democrats are likely to be the top vote getters in June and vie for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s seat in November.

Despite being a former San Francisco District Attorney, Harris is more than just a hometown favorite in this race. Her record of promoting social justice issues along with criminal justice has been a hallmark of her career locally and statewide and it embodies the values we must push for on the national level. She has worked to curb international criminal gangs, gun smuggling and human trafficking. She has worked to keep children in school, promoted marriage equality, improved online privacy and safety, and has fought for homeowners victimized the housing crisis. As impressive as her record has been, we are hoping for even more in her future.

Endorsement: Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate
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U.S. President

With the Republican primary already decided, the Democratic race is the only game left in town.

This is the first California presidential primary that has mattered in nearly a half century. This is truly a momentous election for the voters. California might be Sen. Bernie Sanders’ last stand, but the fact he has made it this far against the Democratic machine that seemed intent to discount his candidacy from the outset speaks to the force of discontent in this country and the feeling, on the Democratic side, that Hillary Clinton is a flawed standard bearer for the party.

The disagreement between Democrats in this race bears some semblance to the troubles on the Republican side, where the rise of Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee is evidence of how broken the GOP has become. But there are very different tensions, too, leading to Sanders’ surprising and encouraging successes thus far.

Sanders’ vision for the future of America is optimistic, egalitarian and just. The revolution he speaks of, however distant or far-fetched, is about restoring hope to so many who have assumed the terrors and injustices of modern life were insurmountable. That vision, that government can better people’s lives and root out entrenched corruption and cowardice, deserves our heartfelt support and full-throated endorsement.

Despite Sanders’ unexpected strength in state contests, the party superdelegate lead that Clinton enjoys means his chances to capture the nomination are slim. If she prevails, Clinton — more moderate and hawkish than Sanders, less convincingly passionate about the plight of those who live in poverty and those who struggle against systemic oppression — will have to try to unite the party against Trump in November. Sanders has created a meaningful moment in American politics that speaks well for the future of the Democratic party. It is up to us to carry it forward.

Endorsement: Bernie Sanders for Democratic nominee for U.S. President
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Click here or scroll down to comment

  • Tiffany A. Flowers

    Thank you for endorsing Senator Sanders. I truly believe his movement to help change the conditions in the U.S. will benefit future generations. On a different note, I really enjoyed reading the quality of the critique and endorsement of the different candidates. This is outstanding work. I have not read actual journalism of this manner in a long time. It was like experiencing a lunar eclipse in the social media age. Please keep up the great work. This was amazing. I already share this fifteen times on social media.

  • lauriemitchell

    Many thanks to the San Francisco Examiner for endorsing the best presidential candidate for our nation right now. I agree with you on all fronts and look forward to watching the returns on June 7th!

  • lauriemitchell

    Well said! I’ll read the article more closely.

  • Howard Epstein

    The Examiner wants to turn the United States of American into the next Cuba/Venezuela.

  • Kelly Tankie Garner

    Thanks! A media with a brain! I was unsure this wasn’t extinct!

  • Julia

    What a beautiful, succinct, perfect endorsement of Senator Sanders. You took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you for having the courage to go against the grain and stand up for what’s right.

  • imsharon

    Thank you. You are the ONLY public media outlet that has had one good thing to say about Senator Sanders, his platform, and we who support him. Bless your Hearts for the courage you have displayed by speaking up with integrity.

  • Deporodh

    Well said!

  • Anne Sumers M.D.

    Plus-Bernie sanders beats trump by 15 to 20 points according to CNN, Reuters, and Quinnipiac, while HRC is beaten by 5 points. A bit for Clinton is a vote for president trump.

  • Bruce Gruber

    An amazingly thoughtful analysis. Instructive to voters, candidates, disaffected citizens and economic interests – both egalitarian AND supportive. A future founded on information rather than propaganda seems amazingly possible as a result of the Examiner’s offering of intelligent conversation over partisan ‘choosing”.

  • Loralie Mcgill-Ardolino

    Thank you for your endorsement of the Senator! I worry very much that Trump will beat Clinton in a general election match up. Bernie is our best chance! Come on California! We have ONE JOB! Stop Trump with Bernie!

  • shar

    Thank you SF Examiner

  • A_Ware

    Do you honestly believe that or are you just trolling? If that’s your actual opinion, remember that:
    1. The US is largely responsible for conditions in Cuba and Venezuela.
    2. The social democracies the #FeelTheBern movement looks to as examples are in northern Europe.
    3. Major nations around the world are already doing what Bernie proposes – so why not here?

  • Melissa

    Thank you for endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders. I have never felt such conviction for a candidate; the American people need him. I hope California gives him a massive landslide.

  • Yourami

    “The disagreement between Democrats in this race bears some semblance to the troubles on the Republican side, where the rise of Donald Trump as the presumptive nominee is evidence of how broken the GOP has become.”

    Yet the GOP, to its credit, did not sabotage Trump’s campaign, or otherwise rig the primary contest the way that the very Un-Democratic party has done.

  • PontiusSD

    It’s cute that you give recommendations for the Democratic County Central Committee, but completely ignore the same offices on the Republican side as if they don’t even exist.

    Well, at least we know the purpose of the Examiner: nothing remotely resembling a news organization, and instead merely just a mouthpiece for the Democratic party. Good job.

  • PontiusSD

    The GOP tried everything in their power to stop him and got it thrown right back in their face. It was a classic lesson in what not to do.

  • PontiusSD

    “1. The US is largely responsible for conditions in Cuba and Venezuela.”

    Thanks for the laugh of the day. Yep, we went there and *forced* them to be communist. Absolute garbage. The conditions in those countries are due to the ideologies of the people who rule them. They tried communism and failed, and their people have paid with their lives. That is on them, not us.

    Tell me, is there a problem in the world that *isn’t* our fault?

  • hiker_sf

    There is a Republican Central Committee? The Examiner isn’t the only one who didn’t know.

  • Katherine Torkelson

    The biggest problem with Hillary is that Sanders was unknown at the beginning of this race, especially when she paid for and garnered these super delegates! Now another potential problem has surfaced… Her son-in-law received money from Goldman Sacs in 2011 for a Hedge fund that has had enormous problems! I think if one is diligent, as in the Republican Smear machines that this will become a much larger issue in the future! There is just so much baggage that one can overcome and her suitcases are already full!

  • Virginia Lawler

    I, too, want to thank the San Francisco Examiner for the moving endorsement of
    Sen.Sanders. An Illinois native, I first learned of Sen. Sanders in 1962. His mother had died shortly after he’d graduated from high school in Brooklyn, & his father 3 yrs. later. After a year at Brooklyn College he transferred to the University of Chicago. He would graduate with a B.A. in political science in 1964, but it was his extracurricular education that would shape his life’s work. In 1962 he led a rally to protest UC’s segregated student housing. It included camping outside the president’s office & went on for weeks. It was the first civil rights sit-in in Chicago history. In 1963 a Chicago Trib photo showed him being arrested during a demonstration against segregation in Chicago public schools,& he also participated in the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, where Martin Luther King moved thousands with his “I Have A Dream” speech. Since then he has worked consistently–whatever his position–for economic, environmental, gender,housing, racial and social justice for us all…not the 10% or 1%.

  • jonadenz

    HUH? What is the Republican counterpart called?

  • Jill Laurence

    No one can do better than Hillary. She fooled millions into believing…

    – She’s denouncing big money corrupting politics and in fact, she’s taking big money corrupting her politics.

    – She’s supporting “Black Lives Matter” and threw law enforcement under the bus. However, she referred black youth as “super predators”..“We need to bring them to heel”?

    – She’s fighting for the 99% and she fought ruthlessly with other people’s money to be in the top one-tenth of one percent.

    – She’s fighting for women’s rights and she’s taking $millions to the fraudulent Clinton Foundation from countries with horrid records of women’s rights violations. When oil-rich countries and Wall Street give money, they expect something in return.

    – She promised to keep pay parity front and center. The Clinton Foundation pays female executives 38% less than male counterparts.

    – She wants to make America the world’s clean energy superpower and she continues to fundraise with fracking investors and received $millions from fossil fuel companies.

    – She’s fighting for income equality, but she only supports a Wall Street backed low national minimum wage, and is once again, better known for courting Wall Street than holding them accountable for their greed.

    – She makes campaign finance reform a top priority and the Hillary Victory Fund allows her multi-millionaire and billionaire supporters to bypass individual campaign donation limits. The Fund also made deals with 500+ superdelegates (approximately equal to 4.1 million votes) BEFORE the election cycle began with the promise of contributions to their re-election fund or jobs in her administration.

    The list goes on….

    “Actions speak louder than words”. Hillary Clinton is corrupt to the bone; clearly a bought and sold politician. Yet, millions of people still support her. Either Hillary is a genius or her supporters are utterly gullible…

  • Jill Laurence

    Chelsea’s father-in-law, Ed Mezvinsky, was still on probation (he served 8 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to 31 of 69 felony charges for frauds) and still owed $9.4MM in restitution to his victims. Chelsea bought a $10MM condo in NYC shortly after.

    All in the family!

  • Jill Laurence

    Sen. Warren wrote in her 2003 book – – “Big banks were now part of Hillary Clinton’s constituency. She wanted their support, and they wanted hers..”? Sen. Warren blamed campaign contributions from banking interests for why Hillary Clinton flipped from being opposed to Wall Street-backed bankruptcy legislation to supporting it. Sen. Warren wrote, “The bill was essentially the same, but Hillary Clinton was not…Campaigns cost money, and that money wasn’t coming from families in financial trouble.”