This year, 23 neophytes have paid $3,480 each for the opportunity to challenge incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the doyenne of Congress’ Jewish contingent, who has held the seat since 1992. Under new rules, the top two vote-getters in today’s primary will proceed to the general election in November—regardless of party registration. With the opposition candidates all polling below 5 percent, that opens up a window of opportunity for long-shot gadflies to make it to the general election ballot.
The list includes Orly Taitz, the Soviet Jewish émigré who styles herself the queen of the birther movement, and Nachum Shifren, formerly known as Norm, a native Malibu surf rat and Hasidic rabbi who, according to London’s Jewish Chronicle, once worked as a driver for the extremist leader Meir Kahane and more recently traveled to Britain to rally with the English Defence League, a nationalist, anti-Islam group. “Many of the other candidates,” said Jack Pitney, a political-science professor at Claremont McKenna College, “are an organic mix of nuts and vegetables.”
The likelihood that Feinstein will actually be unseated is accordingly negligible. She is one of the most popular politicians in the state, and despite being the victim of a $4.5 million campaign-funds embezzlement scam, she holds a cash advantage of $2.5 million over the official candidate of the state Republican Party, an autism activist named Elizabeth Emken. All of which explains why the announcement late last week that Feinstein had accepted the endorsement of the left-wing Israel advocacy group J Street was met not with the vitriol many pro-Israel groups heaped on Democrat Joe Sestak, J Street’s candidate in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Senate race, but with silence.
J Street, which launched in 2008 with ambitions to act as a progressive counterweight to the behemoth American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has struggled to find entree with Congress’ senior players. Feinstein lends them much-needed gravitas. “J Street is establishing itself as an element of the mainstream Jewish community,” said J Street’s head, Jeremy Ben-Ami.
J Street made its approach in April, after Feinstein wrote an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle defending Obama’s diplomatic approach toward Iran. “Her views were very close, if not identical, to J Street’s,” said Howard Dickstein, a board member of J Street’s political action committee and Sacramento lawyer who made his fortune representing Indian tribal gambling interests. “I don’t think she has to be fearful of any kind of retaliation or pushback.” Dickstein was joined in making the ask by J Street advisory board member Carol Winograd, a retired Stanford University professor of medicine and biology whose husband, Terry, served as a Ph.D. adviser to Google co-founder Larry Page. (Together, the Winograds have given more than $600,000 to Democratic causes in the past three cycles.)
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Separately, and was reported here earlier, Howard Dickstein, a widely-known but controversial figure within California’s Tribal Gambling industry, has been named a defendant in a suit seeking unspecified monetary damages. Also named as defendant is Dickstein’s wife, Sacramento-based lobbyist Jeannine English.
The lawsuit alleges that Dickstein and English executed a scheme that caused injury to the Plaintiff, a Southern California resident who claims his privacy and constitutional rights were “egregiously violated.”
The Elliott Building, 1530 J Street Sacramento, CA 95814. The building is owned by Mark Friedman of Fulcrum Properly Group. Currently, the Elliott Building is occupied on separate floors by the offices of Howard Dickstein of Dickstein & Zerbi, Fulcrum Property’s Mark Friedman, Arlen Opper, Doug Elmets, Paula Lorenzo of Cache Creek Casino, and The California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA). Dickstein, Friedman, and Opper were all named defendants in the matter of Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians / Cache Creek Casino v. Howard Dickstein. The penthouse unit is the official residence of California’s first couple — Governor Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown, Jr. and his wife. (Image: courtesy photo)
Specifically, the suit alleges that in order to camouflage a scheme and make it appear as though it is purely a mundane action by a governmental agency and was not designed to conceal Dickstein’s and English’s own acts of malfeasance, greed, and betrayal, defendants resorted to abusing their considerable “political and legal clout.”
This clout was presumably obtained as a result of the funneling of hundreds of millions of dollars from myriad Tribal Casinos to various state and local governmental agencies/officials, as well as from English’s position as a member of the State Bar of California Board of Governors, and the fact that the president of the State Bar of California, Jon Streeter, and his firm of Keker & Van Nest, represent Howard Dickstein. This , the plaintiff alleges, shows “malice and oppression” on the part of defendants sufficient to justify an award of punitive damages.
Dickstein , who is no stranger to litigation, has been previously named a defendant in a suit advanced by his client, members of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nations (formerly known as the Ramsey Band of Wintun Indians), which owns and operates the Cache Creek Casino in Brooks, California, an unincorporated community in Yolo County.
In that action, the plaintiffs — who were represented by Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy and legal ethics expert Michael Boli — alleged that Dickstein engaged in myriad fraudulent conduct, concealment, conversion (i.e. a non-criminal term referring to the act of theft), breaches of fiduciary duties, misrepresentations, and unjustly enriching himself with tribal money by defrauding the tribe of millions of dollars over more than a decade.
According to media reports, Tribal Administrator Greg Baker — a Dickstein confederate — disallowed a tribe-funded mailing of a campaign mailer that claims the United Auburn Indian Community has been “bamboozled by an attorney [Howard Dickstein] more interested in filling his garage with Ferraris than serving the interest of our tribe, and the greed of a tribal council that rubber stamps his decision and no longer looks after our best interests.”
Baker, who as it turned out was involved in a separate and unrelated financial scheme, was recently suspended following on the heels of an IRS investigation into allegations of fraud and money-laundering. In affidavits filed by an IRS investigator, it was alleged that Baker was part of a scheme to over-bill the casino/tribe by more than $18 million, which would later be “kicked-back.”
Roman Porter — a long time ally and confederate of California Democratic Party operative Joseph Dunn of embattled online publication Voice of OC who now serves as the executive director of the State Bar of California — was recently hired as Thunder Valley Casino’s new tribal administrator.
The J Street Gang of Greed
In approximately 2004, as part of an effort to revitalize its downtown area, the city of Sacramento poured three million dollars into subsidies for the renovation of the “Elliott Building” located at 1530 J Street in Sacramento. The project was initiated by Mark Friedman of Sacramento-based Fulcrum Property Group and a few of his business partners.
Friedman, a man of despicable character, may be a stranger to readers, but he is no stranger to The Leslie Brodie Report given that he was one of the named defendants in the case of Rumsey vs. Dickstein, which deals primarily with allegations of years of fraud and deceit by Dickstein against his client, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.
One example of such a scheme allegedly perpetrated by Dickstein and Friedman against the tribe deals with a parcel of land situated in West-Sacramento known as “The Triangle,” an otherwise prime location facing the Sacramento River.
The tribe was urged by defendants Dickstein and its financial advisor Arlen Opper to enter into yet another business relationship with Friedman, through which a parcel of land in “The Triangle” was purchased. The tribe would own 50% and Friedman and his extended would own 50% of the property.
At one point, Mark Friedman asked the tribe for a favor (or as he put it, an “accommodation”), by which the tribe would sell and Friedman would purchase the tribe’s 50% share in “The Triangle.”
Friedman’s excuse for seeking the “accommodation” was very simple — he wanted to reduce the amount of money he would owe the Internal Revenue Service. Friedman had just sold a different piece of real estate, and needed to quickly invest the money in real estate (or as he referred to it, to “park” the money ) in a separate property for a period of several years as is allowed by IRS rules; at the period, the tribe would be allowed to buy the property back for the same price for which it was sold to Friedman per a “buy back option.”
Dickstein and Opper recommended that the tribe “accommodate” Friedman, and Friedman consequently purchased the property from the tribe.
Per their written agreement, the tribe was given the option to buy back the property within one year. However, the tribe did not buy back the property within one as a result of a failure by Arlen Opper and Howard Dickstein — the attorney for the tribe who was in possession of the written agreement — to inform the tribe when the time period expired so that the tribe could buy back the property. Notably, the property had increased in value “exponentially” during this period.
Later, after the “buy back option” had expired, the tribe realized that it had missed the deadline to buy back its 50% share of the property, and sought to do so at that time. However, Mark Friedman refused to sell it back, claiming that the tribe had missed its deadline.