Daniel Newman

Harmeet Kaur Dhillon

Dan Morain

Peter Scheer

First Amendment Coalition to cover money in politics Dec. 1

Please join the First Amendment Coalition for “Democracy for Sale?” a wide-ranging discussion on money in politics, with special attention given to the 2016 election results. The free event will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1 during the 139th Annual California Press Foundation Winter Meeting at the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel in San Francisco.

Panelists will look at spending by major donors (what do they get for their money, anyway?); the role of “dark money” (and California’s attempt to ban it); the use of digital media to target candidate messaging; and the debate over forcing nonprofits to disclose their confidential donors.

The panel will also consider California’s ballot initiative process, which attracts some of the biggest spenders in the country. Do initiatives serve mainly to allow special interests to “buy” laws (instead of buying legislators)? And California’s ballot initiative process, which attracts some of the biggest spenders in the country: Do initiatives serve mainly to allow special interests to “buy” laws (instead of buying legislators)?

The panel:

Daniel Newman is a nationally recognized expert on money and politics issues.

Newman is president and co-founder of MapLight, whose database connects campaign contributions, politicians, legislative votes and companies to show patterns of influence never before possible to see.

Harmeet Kaur Dhillon has served as vice chair of the California Republican Party since 2013. She practices First Amendment and campaign finance law and is the owner of the Dhillon Law Group, a law firm, in San Francisco. She is a celebrated leader in the Sikh community and served for three years on the board of the ACLU.

Dan Morain is the editorial page editor, political affairs columnist and editorial writer for The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked for the Los Angeles Times, covering the California Supreme Court when Rose Bird was chief justice, covered the Legislature when Willie Brown was speaker and covered the governor’s office during Gray Davis’ tenure.

Moderator Peter Scheer has served as the executive director of the First Amendment Coalition since 2004. A lawyer and journalist, Scheer was editor and publisher of The Recorder, a daily legal newspaper based in San Francisco. He practiced appellate litigation in Washington, D.C., both in the U.S. Justice Department and in private practice, and has argued cases in the U.S. Supreme Court He writes frequently on First Amendment issues.

The FAC program is free to all attendees, but registration is required. To register for the Cal Press Winter Meeting, please visit https://cal-press.wildapricot.org/event-2327213 by Nov. 23. To register solely for the FAC session, please click https://www.eventbrite.com/e/democracy-for-sales-tickets-29424564665. Questions? Please contact Renee Smith, (916) 288-6017.

As reported here previously, Cal Press will present several honors during the Winter Meeting:

Inducted into the California Newspaper Hall of Fame will be Jerene Appleby Harnish and Nan Tucker McEvoy.

The Mark Twain Award will honor the late cartoonist Morrie Turner.

The Justus F. Craemer Executive of the Year Award will go to Dean Eckenroth, and the Philip N. McCombs Achievement will be presented to Bruce B. Brugmann.

Keynote speakers will be David Talbot and Dacher Keltner. The Irish Newsboys will provide musical entertainment.

Also to be presented are the First Amendment Coalition’s Free Speech & Open Government Award and the Jack Bates Award for Distinguished Service to the California Press.

Though the FAC session is free to all attendees, those who attend the rest of the Cal Press meeting will register at $195 per person, which includes meals. A la carte pricing is available. Please click here to register by Nov. 23.