<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Politics and Political News]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/politics http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego https://www.nbcsandiego.com en-usTue, 16 Oct 2018 10:05:59 -0700Tue, 16 Oct 2018 10:05:59 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Pompeo Visits Saudi Arabia With Concerns Over Missing Writer]]> Tue, 16 Oct 2018 06:50:15 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2018-10-16+at+9.46.34+AM.png

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince on Tuesday after concerns of missing journalist Jamal Kashoggi prompted calls for an investigation into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Kashoggi was last seen. Kashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post, was a frequent critic of the prince. 

<![CDATA[Complete Coverage: Decision 2018]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2018 08:39:04 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/San-Diego-Registrar-of-Voters_sign.jpg
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Photo Credit: Greg Stickney, NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Saudis Considering Plan to Admit Writer Killed in Consulate]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2018 16:03:53 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/khashoggiAP_18284761178131.jpg

Saudi Arabia’s government is discussing a plan to admit that missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, three people with knowledge of the situation tell NBC News.

According to two of the individuals, the Saudis are putting together an explanation that would absolve Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the putative leader of Saudi Arabia, of responsibility by giving him plausible deniability to say he didn’t order the killing and didn’t know about it.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump: 'Hard to Believe' Devastation Caused by Hurricane Michael]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2018 15:06:08 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE.00_00_59_29.Still007.jpg

On Monday President Donald Trump traveled to Florida to see first-hand the damage caused by Hurricane Michael.

<![CDATA[Feds Find Increasing Attempts to Hack US Election Systems]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2018 13:31:15 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kirstjen+Nielsen-GettyImages-1017761754.jpg

The Department of Homeland Security says it's working to identify who — or what — is behind an increasing number of attempted cyber attacks on U.S. election databases ahead of next month's midterms.

"We are aware of a growing volume of cyber activity targeting election infrastructure in 2018," the department's Cyber Mission Center said in an intelligence assessment issued last week and obtained by NBC News. "Numerous actors are regularly targeting election infrastructure, likely for different purposes, including to cause disruptive effects, steal sensitive data, and undermine confidence in the election."

The assessment said the federal government does not know who is behind the attacks, but it said all potential intrusions were either prevented or mitigated.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Police: Suspicious Letter Sent to Sen. Susan Collins' Home]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2018 17:42:29 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Susan+Collins+Bangor+Maine+collage.jpg

Police are investigating after a suspicious letter was sent to the Maine home of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.

Bangor police said officers responded to Collins' West Broadway home just before 2 p.m. Monday for a report of a suspicious envelope that had been delivered to the home.

Firefighters and a local hazardous materials crew also responded to the scene, according to police.

Although no other details about the nature of the suspicious letter were immediately released, authorities in Bangor reassured residents that there was no information to indicate a public danger.

WCSH reports that Collins' husband was home at the time when the letter was received and that Collins is heading to Bangor from Washington, DC.

"We are very grateful for the immediate and professional assistance that we received from the Bangor Police Department, the Maine Crime Lab, the Maine State Police Department, the Capitol Police, the FBI, the Orono Hazmat Unit, the Bangor Fire Department, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service," Collins and her husband, Tom Daffron, said in a written statement. "We are also truly appreciative of the many well wishes that we have received today. Our friends and neighbors have been incredibly kind and have even offered to open their homes to us. We feel blessed to live in such a supportive community."

The investigation is ongoing.

Collins became the target of partisan ire after the moderate Republican voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this month following sexual misconduct allegations.

Photo Credit: WCSH/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego City Council Votes to Ban Styrofoam Products]]> Tue, 16 Oct 2018 05:50:09 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/STYROFOAM+BAN+san+diego.jpg

The San Diego City Council voted 5-3 to ban Styrofoam products in the city Monday. 

The ordinance restricts the sale of take-out food containers made with polystyrene and plastic foam

“500 dollars a day more is a lot of money for the restaurant owners in my district,” said Councilmember Chris Cate at the meeting Monday. “Even ten dollars a day is a lot for them. You don’t know people’s circumstances.”

The Environmental Services Department is to provide a list of safe alternative containers. Restaurants can petition the department for a waiver.

Under the ordinance, hardship waivers would be awarded on a case-by-case basis for restaurants that would have financial difficulty making the switch to alternative products. 

“I feel we need to move forward with this to protect our oceans, marine life and ourselves,” said Lorie Zapf. “We just have to do something.” 

Restaurant owners were divided as those for and against the ban gathered in front of City Hall before the city council meeting. 

"If I have to switch, that's definitely going to take me out of business,“ said Malford Wilson of Pete Mayo’s Original Waffleburgers on Imperial Avenue in San Diego. "I can't afford to pay 66 percent more on just buying the stuff to put my product out. I want to hire some people. That's taking away from that." 

Others said they wanted to reduce pollution and carcinogens that wash into seafood after marine life eats tiny pieces of plastic. 

"If we continue to use this culture of throw away it's polluting our ocean," said Mikey Knab, who owns Ponce's Mexican Restaurant. "Fish eat the microplastics and when we eat fish, we're eating plastic. For me, this is not a good way to do business in your community." 

Before the vote, Councilmember Scott Sherman asked if this would apply to styrofoam products purchased in a city other than San Diego. 

"If I go to a donut shop in La Mesa and have coffee in a Styrofoam cup, do I have to switch the container by the time I get to San Diego City Hall?" he asked. He was told he would have to change the container. 

On Friday, a group of local restaurant owners gave 50 letters of disapproval to City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole's district office on Euclid Avenue. 

Multiple business owners said they would most likely be forced to shut down and go out of business if they have to use alternative containers. 

“It costs eight cents apiece for the containers I use now and the new containers are forty-five cents apiece,” said Aristotels Garcia, the owner of Wings Empire, a restaurant in San Diego. “That would be an extra $2,000 a month just for containers.”

Councilmembers said any restaurants that currently have a contract with styrofoam companies can petition the Environmental Services Department for a waiver so that agreements are not broken.

The restriction will take effect in January 2019. 

<![CDATA[Search Continues for Missing in Hurricane Michael ]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2018 08:17:14 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_trumptoursmichael_1500x845.jpg

Emergency responders continue to search for those who were last seen riding out Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle as President Donald Trump head to Florida and Georgia to survey the damage. The storm has claimed the lives of 19 people. 

<![CDATA[Most Americans Would Fail US Citizenship Test, Survey Says]]> Mon, 15 Oct 2018 05:56:35 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flagGettyImages-488745228.jpg

A new poll shows that little more than a third of Americans would pass a basic multiple choice U.S. citizenship test, NBC News reported.

The survey, released this month by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, sampled 1,000 American adults and was modeled after the test taken by immigrants in the process of naturalization.

Respondents 65 and older scored the best (74 percent), while only 19 percent of test-takers 45 and younger passed. The survey asks about everything from important dates to historical figures and current events.

How would you do on a U.S. citizenship exam? You can take a practice test on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rubio: 'Moral Credibility' at Stake Over Missing Writer Case]]> Sun, 14 Oct 2018 12:21:52 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_18287659713747.jpg

Sen. Marco Rubio warned Sunday that America's "moral credibility" is at risk if it fails in its response to suspected Saudi involvement in the disappearance and possible killing of a Washington Post columnist in Turkey.

Appearing on "Meet the Press" Sunday, the Florida Republican, a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that if Saudi involvement is proven, the response must be strong and swift to ensure America's moral standing.

"Our ability to call Putin a murderer — because he is; our ability to call Assad a murderer — because he is; our ability to confront Maduro in Venezuela or any of these other human rights atrocities like what we see in China, all of that is undermined and compromised if we somehow decide that because an ally who was important did that, we are not going to call it out," Rubio said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

And John Brennan, the former CIA director who previously served as a CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, said Sunday that it would be "inconceivable that such an operation would be run by the Saudis without the knowledge of the day-to-day decision-maker of Saudi Arabia, that's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
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<![CDATA[Trump Welcomes US Pastor After Returning From Turkey]]> Sat, 13 Oct 2018 14:05:06 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SAMPLE+TIMELINE+Copy+03.00_00_37_08.Still008.jpg

President Donald Trump hosted Andrew Brunson on Saturday in the Oval Office after the pastor was released from confinement in Turkey.

<![CDATA[Clinton's Security Clearance Withdrawn at Her Request]]> Sat, 13 Oct 2018 10:35:31 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-955550458.png

The State Department says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security clearance has been withdrawn at her request, NBC News reported.

Clinton's decision comes after Admiral William McRaven penned an op-ed in the Washington Post rebuking President Donald Trump's decision to revoke former CIA Director John Brennan's security clearance in mid-August, according to her spokesperson Nick Merrill.

On Aug. 30, Clinton's representative wrote a letter to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the U.S. State Department asking for a withdraw of her clearance "immediately."

"[Clinton] has no desire to have her clearance become part of an unprecedented partisan controversy over the clearance process, for the reason eloquently stated by Admiral William McRaven," Clinton's attorney wrote.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Tough-Talking GOP Rival to Governor: I'll Stomp on Your Face]]> Fri, 12 Oct 2018 16:11:29 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Wagner+campaign+ad.JPG

Two weeks ago, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner went outside the boundaries of political decorum by calling Gov. Tom Wolf a "gutless coward" for Wolf's refusal to participate in more than one debate.

(Decorum? Etiquette? What're those? Fair questions, these days.)

But instead of pumping the brakes, Wagner hit the gas: On Oct. 12 in a social media video, the GOP challenger trailing badly in recent polls threatened the incumbent Democrat with golf spikes.

Yes, golf spikes. The sport of baseball didn't escape unscathed either.

"Between now and Nov. 6, you better put a catcher’s mask on your face," Wagner said along the side of a road in his home base of York County in a Facebook Live post. "Because I’m going to stomp all over your face with golf spikes. Because I’m going to win this."

Hours later, Wagner took the old one down.

"I may have chosen a poor metaphor. I may have had a poor choice of words. I shouldn’t have said what I said," Wagner said in the replacement post.

A spokesman for Wagner said hours after the video posted that the stomping is not to be taken literally.

"He wanted them to be a metaphor for how he will approach the final stretch of the campaign," campaign spokesman Andrew Romeo said in an email. "Tom Wolf has spent the entire race hiding behind false and negative attack ads like a coward instead of debating in front of the people of Pennsylvania and Scott will spend the last month of the race making it clear to voters why they should not give him a second term."

Wolf's camp said the video shows Wagner is "unhinged and unfit for office."

Photo Credit: @Wagnerforgovernor, Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Restaurant Owners Rally Against Proposed Styrofoam Ban ]]> Fri, 12 Oct 2018 15:08:00 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/styrofoam.JPG

Local restaurant owners gathered in San Diego Friday to oppose a proposal that would ban styrofoam products. 

The proposal restricts the sale of take-out food containers made with polystyrene and plastic foam. 

The Environmental Services Department is to provide a list of safe alternative containers. 

“If we buy the other containers it’s like four times more expensive,” said Aristotels Garcia, the owner of Wings Empire, a restaurant in San Diego. “We’ll have less employees and be losing money and have less customers. We need the foam right now.” 

The demonstrators gave 50 letters of disapproval to City Councilwoman Myrtle Cole's district office on Euclid Avenue. 

Multiple restaurant owners at the office Friday said they would most likely be forced to shut down and go out of business if they have to use alternative containers. 

“It costs eight cents apiece for the containers I use now and the new containers are forty-five cents apiece,” said Garcia. “That would be an extra $2,000 a month just for containers.”

Those in favor of the styrofoam ban said it would help the ecosystem and reduce pollution.

Over the summer, members of the city council voted 3-2 to approve the proposal for consideration by the full council.   

<![CDATA[Civil Rights Groups Sue Ga. for Holding Voter Registrations]]> Fri, 12 Oct 2018 11:31:06 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_18176807375935.jpg

Civil rights groups sued Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican candidate for governor who also oversees elections in the state, saying the method his office uses to verify new voter registrations is discriminatory, NBC News reported.

The lawsuit, filed late Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, comes after the revelation that thousands of applications remain in a pending status just weeks ahead of November's midterm election.

The filing alleges that Georgia's "exact match" protocol — which requires information on voter registration applications to precisely match information on file with the state's Department of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration or be placed on hold — suppresses minority votes in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the 14th Amendment and the 1993 Voter Registration Act.

"Under this 'exact match' protocol, the transposition of a single letter or number, deletion or addition of a hyphen or apostrophe, the accidental entry of an extra character or space, and the use of a familiar name like 'Tom' instead of ‘Thomas’ will cause a no match result," lawyers for the civil rights groups wrote in the suit.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File]]>
<![CDATA[Dem Seizes on Rohrabacher’s Russia-Friendly Views In SoCal]]> Fri, 12 Oct 2018 19:39:15 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rohrabacher+rouda.jpg

Southern California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who tells a story of losing a drunken arm-wrestling match with Vladimir Putin in the 1990s to settle who won the Cold War, has long advocated friendly ties with Russia. 

But what in the past has been seen as part of the pot-friendly Republican's maverick streak now runs the risk of a more sinister interpretation. He met with a Russian woman later charged with being an agent of the Kremlin trying to infiltrate the National Rifle Association, and dined with her alleged boss. FBI agents even warned him that Russian spies were trying to recruit him.

In this new political universe, with Russian intelligence officials charged with meddling in the U.S. presidential race in 2016 to help get Donald Trump elected, and special counsel Robert Mueller investigating whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia to win the election, Rohrabacher's affinity for the Russian president is one more weapon for the Democrat trying to unseat him in November's midterm election.

"He's always been a kind of flake," said Gary Jacobson, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. "He's been an unusual person and one of his characteristics is his favorable view of Russia. But after Trump and after the 2016 election it's probably more of a problem for him to be identified as a Russophile than it would have been earlier."

This year, the 15-term congressman for California's 48th Congressional District is facing one of his strongest challenges ever, from Harley Rouda, a lawyer, real-estate developer and Republican-turned-Democrat who moved to California from Ohio about a decade ago. 

After squeaking by in the primary by just 125 votes, Rouda hopes to appeal to a district that is increasingly less conservative and whose changing demographics now include more Hispanic and Asian voters.

This article, part 2 in a series, examines one of the key battleground races for control of the House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. Carried by grassroots momentum, Democrats must take 23 seats from Republicans to win the balance of power. They are contending with Republicans' experience, organization and an outspoken but polarizing president.

The race is close — far closer than it was in 2016, when Rohrabacher won the historically Republican district in Orange County by more than 16 percentage points, even while Democrat Hillary Clinton won it by 2 points. Now, the Cook Political Report rates the district a toss-up.

A July poll from the Monmouth University Polling Institute gave Rouda 46 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Rohrabacher; the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies found after a September survey that the race was a dead heat. 

"What's important about this particular race, of course, is Rohrabacher's profile, particularly in his defense of Russia," said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth poll. "I think if Rouda can win this, it will be seen as a repudiation of the softer stance that the president has taken on Russia."

Like Rohrabacher, Trump has sought closer ties with Russia. Trump held a controversial summit with Putin and often refuses to place the blame for 2016 election meddling squarely on Russia, despite the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion.

Rohrabacher is known for his laid-back surfer style and libertarian leanings — he pushes for states to have autonomy on marijuana policy and once joked that, as a young man, he "did everything but drink the bong water." He reportedly questioned whether Robert F. Kennedy's assassin acted alone and whether there was a foreign connection to the Oklahoma City bombing carried out by Americans.

In the late 1980s, he took off for Afghanistan briefly to visit Afghan rebels fighting the Soviet invasion; he later told The Los Angeles Times that's when he realized that he was fighting communism, not Russians.

Rohrabacher's more recent pro-Russia activities may have caught the eye of Mueller's investigators, but if the 48th District does flip from red to blue, Murray believes that voters will be driven less by Russia than their feeling of insecurity over health care costs and the state of the economy, "concerns about having the rug being pulled out from under you, that you're only one crisis away from a bankruptcy," he said.

"These are the kinds of voters who are toying with voting Democrat even though they normally vote Republican," he said.

'Extremist Views,' 'Completely Disconnected'
The 48th District follows California's coast from Seal Beach south to Laguna Niguel. It has a median household income of nearly $89,000, an average jobless rate in 2016 of 4.4 percent and nearly three-quarters of its residents have some college or higher educational levels, according to the Census.

Rouda, 56, told NBC he thought Rohrabacher was vulnerable "because of his outlandish, extremist views and his unbridled support for Russia while failing to meet his obligations as a representative of the district."

Among the views Rouda cited: that homeowners should not have to sell their homes to gays and lesbians (a practice banned by California but not nationally); that undocumented immigrants in the United States, including "Dreamers,"  should be deported, and that high school students could be trained to use guns stored on school premises in the event of a mass shooting (the result of a prank pulled on Rohrabacher for a TV show that the congressman later called "a sick fraud").

"It's clear that he has lost touch with the vast majority of voters and their values here in the district," Rouda said.

Rohrabacher, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, did not agree to a request for an interview, but his spokesman, Dale Neugebauer, provided a statement. It called Rouda too liberal for the district, noting that he had been endorsed by the Progressive Democrats of America, had pledged to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus and had endorsed "Medicare for All." 

"In fact, it is Mr. Rouda whose views are far outside the normal bounds of political discourse and completely disconnected from those of voters in the 48th District," Neugebauer said.

A District in Flux
Rohrbacher, 71 has held on to his seat for so long because Republicans have dominated in the district, said Jacobson, the UC San Diego professor emeritus. But this year Trump might make the difference, he said.

"In a normal year, he probably wouldn't be particularly vulnerable," Jacobson said. "Trump, as unpopular as he is, especially in California, that gives an opportunity for a challenger that might not otherwise be there."

Rohrabacher still has strong support in the Republican bastion around wealthy Newport Beach, and Republicans have a nearly 10 percentage point advantage in voter registration, but constituents elsewhere in the district are open to someone new, said Murray, the Monmouth pollster.

"They are not your older Orange County families who are used to voting Republican," he said. "They are willing to take a look at the Democrats, particularly in this race."

The share of the county's population that identifies solely as white has dropped by 5 percent since 2006 to about 60 percent, according to Census data, made up by a corresponding rise in populations that identify as Asian or Hispanic/Latino. Countywide, Republicans' advantage over Democrats in voter registration has dropped from a high of 22 percentage points in 1990 down to 2.8 this March, according to the Orange County Register.

In the July poll, Rohrabacher was favored by white voters who did not have a college degree. Those with a college degree were split between him and Rouda, while Rouda led among women, those under 50 and black, Latino and Asian-American voters.

In last month's Berkeley poll, which put the candidates in a dead heat, more than 60 percent of the respondents rated the candidates' views on the economy, health care, gun laws, immigration and taxes as among the most important.

Russia was divisive: Forty-four percent of respondents said Rohrabacher's connections to Russia made them less likely to vote for him, but half said the connections had no effect on their vote.

Rohrabacher's Russia Connections
Rohrabacher has scoffed at the idea that his Russia ties are problematic and called the federal indictment of Maria Butina, accused of trying to infiltrate the NRA, ridiculous and part of a "deep state" plot to undermine Trump.

"It's stupid," he told Politico in July. "She's the assistant of some guy who is the head of the bank and is a member of their Parliament. That's what we call a spy? That shows you how bogus this whole thing is."

Butina, a 29-year-old gun rights activist, is charged with conspiracy to act as an unregistered agent on behalf of the Russian government. Rohrabacher met her in Russia in 2015 but a spokesman told The Mercury News in July that he did not remember the encounter and recalled Butina only as an aide to the deputy governor of the Russian central bank who is reported to have tried to broker a meeting between Trump and Putin.

Rohrabacher's spokesman told NBC that the congressman's position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee required him to pay attention to the U.S. relationship with Russia. 

"With respect to our relations with Russia, he believes we should cooperate with them only on those areas where we have a mutual interest and that open hostility towards them is not in the interest of the United States," Neugebauer said.

Some of Rohrabacher's supporters are untroubled by his ties to Russia.

And Rohrabacher's advocacy for Russia is not at the top of Rouda supporter James Percival's concerns, either. 

"To me there are so many other bad things about him that that's just one other blemish," said the 62-year-old Newport Beach lawyer.

Percival criticized Rohrabacher for accomplishing little in his 30 years in office and his refusal to say anything negative about Trump. He opposes Rohrabacher's positions on immigration, gun rights, climate change, health care, immigration and gay rights and said Rouda had a better heart.

Rouda "believes government can be a force for good not only on behalf of the wealthiest who seem to control the levers of power but also on behalf of the powerless and the downtrodden and the economically deprived," Percival said. 

The Other Issues
Some of the positions Rohrabacher's spokesman emphasized to NBC, along with the congressman's longtime connections to the district — he surfs, and the district is home to the U.S. Open of surfing — are bipartisan. Rohrabacher was one of the few Republicans to vote against the president's tax cuts last year, for example.

Last week, he released a new ad in which he portrayed himself as a health care advocate who would protect those with pre-existing conditions medical conditions from losing coverage.

The ad was personal: It features his daughter Annika who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was younger. But critics noted that Rohrabacher voted for the American Health Care Act of 2017, which would have repealed the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." According to a Congressional Budget Office report, the American Health Care Act would have undermined protections for pre-existing conditions and would have resulted in 23 million Americans losing health-care coverage.

Other Rohrabacher policy positions are within the Republican mainstream, like opposing undocumented immigration.

In a video on his campaign website, Rohrabacher warns that California's quality of life is changing because of "a massive flow of illegal immigrants" over the last decades. He says he stands by Trump's efforts to control the country's borders, even if it means building a wall.

Orange County has shown some support for strict immigration enforcement as well — its board of supervisors and some cities joined a March lawsuit brought by the Trump Justice Department against California's sanctuary laws, which restrict how local law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration enforcement officers. 

Rohrabacher has an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund, supports offshore drilling for oil and supported Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement. He told KPCC, Southern California's public radio: "I disagree with the theory that CO2, caused, done by mankind, is a major cause for climate change."

Rouda, 56, said he would work in Congress toward reforming immigration laws, creating middle-class jobs and addressing gun violence, climate change, health care and women's rights, all important issues, he said.

But, he said, "The one that has really come to the top in the last 60 days in the sense that our democracy is under attack."

He accused Republicans of failing to stand up to foreign adversaries trying to influence the U.S. presidential election.

He describes himself as a centrist, having left the Republican party in 1997 and staying independent for two decades until registering as a Democrat. The GOP is no longer the party of Reagan, Rouda said, and it was Trump's election as president that spurred him to run for office himself, though he said he was not running against Trump but Rohrabacher.

He was particularly critical of Rohrabacher's failure to get laws passed during his time in office. Govtrack.us, a website that tracks congressional legislation, credits Rohrabacher with being the primary sponsor of three bills that have been enacted as law over his 30 years in Congress.

"He's shown how ineffective he is," Rouda told NBC.

Rohrabacher's campaign responded that the congressman had been effective however many bills his name was on, giving as an example his work helping to get federal funding for flood mitigation along the Santa Ana River. 

As far Rohrabacher's opponent, Neugebauer asked: "Which Harley Rouda should voters believe? The far left liberal extremist who won the Democrat primary? Or the slick politician spending millions of dollars to remake himself now?"

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<![CDATA[How to Avoid Political Junk Mail in Your Mailbox]]> Fri, 12 Oct 2018 06:56:04 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/How_to_Avoid_Political_Junk_Mail_in_Your_Mailbox.jpg

If you're a registered voter and you have a mail-in ballot, there's a way you can avoid getting all of that excess political junk mail.

<![CDATA[Bill Introduced to Prevent Foreign Ownership of US Election Firms]]> Fri, 12 Oct 2018 03:41:20 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Maryland+voting+booth+generic+GettyImages-524444252.jpg

Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen introduced new legislation Thursday to prevent foreign ownership or control of companies that support U.S. election systems.

The move comes after state leaders were caught by surprise earlier this year upon learning a Russian oligarch has financial ties to one of Maryland's elections vendors.

"My jaw dropped. I mean I was shocked," Van Hollen told the News4 I-Team.

State officials have said there's so far no evidence of wrongdoing, but Van Hollen, a Democrat, said he doesn't want to take a chance.

"Look, we've seen Russian interference in our elections when they don't control the elections infrastructure," Van Hollen said. "If they're actually inside the house and messing around, that poses a big risk and certainly an unnecessary risk in my view."

He introduced the Protect Our Elections Act Thursday, along with Cardin and Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine. Among its provisions, it would require vendors to disclose to the Department of Homeland Security, the Election Assistance Commission and state and local governments whether a foreign national has direct or indirect control of their company.

The legislation would not have any impact on the upcoming election in November but Van Hollen hopes Congress will take it up this session.

ByteGrid LLC is responsible for maintaining the data in several of Maryland's key election systems, including voter registration and online ballot delivery. The company purchased an existing Maryland elections vendor in 2015. State officials did not know ByteGrid was funded by a firm called AltPoint Capital, whose main investor is a Russian billionaire that state officials have said has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

ByteGrid has said its investors are not involved in its operations.

Maryland State Board of Elections Deputy Administrator Nikki Charlson told the I-Team the ByteGrid contract is still in place and the company has been complying with new, additional monitoring and reporting requirements.

Charlson said the company has also been cooperating with a Department of Homeland Security investigation of ByteGrid's access to the state's election management systems and that federal authorities so far have found no "adversary presence" in its networks.

State elections officials were already planning to review the future of the ByteGrid contract after the November election, but Charlson said replacing the vendor in advance of the midterms wasn't an option.

"We learned about this in mid-July, and so the process to procure a new data center and move the data without jeopardizing the election was not something that we could do," Charlson said, adding: "Right now [we're] focusing on securing the election and making sure that everything is working for voters."

Van Hollen told the I-Team evidence of tampering isn't necessary to take preventative measures.

"It's kind of like the arms race. You always have to be one step ahead of the adversary," he said.

If the new legislation passes, Maryland and other states would have until the 2020 elections to comply.

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Lawyers Preparing Answers to Questions from Mueller]]> Thu, 11 Oct 2018 16:02:28 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/trump-mueller-10-11.jpg

President Donald Trump's lawyers are preparing answers to questions submitted by special counsel Robert Mueller, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News on Thursday.

The questions are focused on the issue of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential race, the source said. However, the source stressed that these questions are a refined version of questions that have gone back and forth between the two sides for months.

CNN was first to report that the president's legal team was preparing answers to the written questions submitted by Mueller.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, AP]]>
<![CDATA[When Kanye Met Trump: ‘You Are Tasting a Fine Wine’]]> Thu, 11 Oct 2018 12:59:15 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_KANYE_WHITE_HOUSE_101118-153928465591300002.jpg

Kanye West spoke for nearly 10 minutes straight while visiting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office Thursday. Here were some notable moments from the meeting.

<![CDATA[Trump Doesn’t Want to Sanction Saudis Over Missing Writer]]> Thu, 11 Oct 2018 11:17:01 -0700 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DIT_TRUMP_WHITE_HOUSE_101118-153928145902100002.jpg

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post contributor, is missing and feared dead after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. President Donald Trump says he wants to learn more about the incident but does not want to place sanctions on Saudi Arabia.