Tomorrow evening at the Irvine, California home of medical technology company Masimo CEO Joe Kiani, former Vice President Joe Biden will attend a fundraiser hosted by the co-chairman of the most conservative Democratic group in Congress.
Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.), communications co-chair of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, is listed as a host on an invitation for the event that was posted to Twitter by New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher.
The Blue Dogs, a group of fiscally-conservative House Democrats, says it is “dedicated to pursuing fiscally-responsible policies, ensuring a strong national defense, and transcending party lines to get things done for the American people.” On issues like financial regulations, corporate taxes, and health care reform, the group often votes as a bloc with Republicans, providing the votes to stymie Democratic policies. The group also pushes pay-as-you-go budget rules, or PAYGO, which makes it more difficult to pass progressive legislation and address big problems like the climate crisis.
After the 2006 and 2008 elections, business-friendly Blue Dogs secured appointments to positions on the House Financial Services Committee, which they used to slow Wall Street reforms and undermine oversight by the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). During the Obama Administration, the Blue Dogs operated as a key caucus in blocking a “public option” in Obamacare, keeping the price tag of the economic stimulus under an artificially-low ceiling of $800 billion, and pushing for greater financial deregulation.
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The group also operates a political action committee, Blue Dog PAC, that raises millions of dollars each election cycle, mainly from corporate PACs, and spends money to help elect more conservative Democrats. Corporate PACs that donated to Blue Dog PAC in the 2018 election cycle include those affiliated with drug company Pfizer, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, oil company ExxonMobil, and Wall Street bank Citigroup.
In addition to Correa, Biden has been endorsed by Blue Dogs members Reps. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Vincente Gonzalez (D-Texas) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).
The Blue Dog Coalition was founded in 1995 by conservative Democrats as a reaction to the Republicans picking up 54 seats and taking control of the U.S. House in the 1994 midterm elections. The caucus currently counts 25 members, making up a subset of the 103 members of the moderate New Democrat Coalition in the House.
Correa has received the most career contributions from the PAC and employees of the New Democrat Coalition, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In the last election cycle, Correa received the maximum of $10,000 from the group’s PAC. Since 2015, his campaigns have received $21,500 from the Blue Dog PAC, including $4,000 in the current 2020 cycle.
Rep. Correa’s other top career contributors include the following: aerospace conglomerate Honeywell, which roughly splits its federal donations with Republicans; the American Bankers Association, the banking industry’s chief trade group; the National Association of Realtors; Blue Cross Blue Shield; Chevron; the Credit Union National Association, a trade group that has clashed with the CFBP over regulatory oversight; and the National Auto Dealers Association, which in November 2015 won a victory against CFBP oversight of car loans with support from Democrats.
Also hosting the fundraiser is former Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who announced yesterday that she is taking a job as co-chairwoman lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs. The firm lobbied in 2019 for health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield, oil and gas company PennEast Pipeline, and telecom company AT&T, among many other companies.
Co-host Sheila Creal is a former Boxer spokesperson.
Skip Keesal, another host, is the founder of boutique law firm Keesal, Young & Logan, which has clients for its securities law practice that include Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, UBS, and Black Rock Inc. The firm advertised its successful 2017 defense of Citigroup Global Markets against a $493 million claim involving “hundreds of exchange-traded securities, new issues, margin transactions, variable forward purchase contracts and over-the-counter collars.”
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Also named as a host on the invitation is John Molina, who is likely to be John C. Molina, the previous campaign donor from Molina Healthcare. Molina resigned in February 2018 from the board of his family company and is now founding partner of Pacific6, a Long Beach commercial real estate concern. Molina Healthcare filed several California lobbying disclosures in 2019. In Dec. 2017, Molina Healthcare laid off hundreds of employees after it pulled out of state-backed health care markets in Utah and Wisconsin.
Co-host Bilal Muhsin is the executive vice president of engineering for Masimo, which lobbied Congress last year on the Prescription Pricing for the People Act of 2019, specifically in support of continuous monitoring of patients taking opioids, which would likely benefit the company’s patient monitoring technologies.
Former Ambassador James Costos, another host, was a 2012 bundler for the Obama campaign who collected more than $500,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He also donated $1,000 to the Inaugural Committee and raised over $200,000 for Democrats from 2008 to 2012. Costos was appointed Ambassador to Spain in summer 2013.