Tony Cárdenas (D-Pacoima) will not seek reelection in 2024, setting up what could become a contested race for his heavily Democratic San Fernando Valley-based seat.
Cárdenas, 60, who was the first Latino to represent the district, told The Times he plans to leave Washington at the end of his term, capping off three decades in public office.
“It will be the first time in 28 years that I’m not on the ballot,” Cárdenas said in a Thursday interview. “The truth of the matter is I thought I could do this just for a few years … I’m just at the age where I have enough energy and experience to maybe do something [different] and have another chapter of a career where I don’t have to go to Washington, D.C., 32 weeks out of the year.”
Cárdenas’ announcement is unlikely to threaten Democrats’ quest to reclaim the House majority. His district, which spans much of the San Fernando Valley, is solidly blue. But his departure creates opportunities for ambitious young Democrats from the Los Angeles area to come to Washington. Cárdenas is backing Luz Rivas, a state Assemblymember who told The Times she would run to replace him.
“Luz is a genuine public servant who has dedicated herself to delivering opportunities for the Valley,” Cárdenas said. “She gets things done, and has always put working families first. I am proud to support Luz for Congress.”
Cárdenas said the lack of nonwhite representation among people in power was a main reason he first ran for public office. Not having role models of color can stifle nonwhite kids’ ambitions for greatness, he said.
“Our teachers, counselors, police officers, would look at us and say you’re never gonna amount to anything,” he said. “I don’t think anyone with those titles should ever tell a child you’re never going to mount anything. But we all experienced that crap, that garbage, those lies.”
Cárdenas was first elected to the Assembly in 1996 at 33. He went on to serve three terms in Sacramento and won three more on the Los Angeles City Council. In 2013, he became the first Latino to represent the Valley in Congress, handily winning election after redistricting removed Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s home in Burbank from the district.
Cárdenas said he’s proud of the work he’s done in his career, notably his efforts to overhaul the state juvenile justice system and ban solitary confinement of minors in federal prisons. As a congressman, Cárdenas was the top sponsor for more than 180 bills, three of which became law, including one in 2021 that addressed crib safety for babies.
In Washington, he served on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and spearheaded an effort to bring a Smithsonian Latino Museum to the National Mall. He chaired BOLD PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ fundraising arm, and under his tenure, the committee’s coffers grew, as did the number of elected Latinos in Congress.
Cárdenas was unable to ascend into House party leadership in 2020 and last year, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) bypassed him when picking the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a woman sued Cárdenas, saying that he had sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager. The woman later dropped her lawsuit, which Cárdenas’ lawyers characterized as a “total vindication.”
Cárdenas spoke highly of now-Sen. Alex Padilla, his close friend and roommate in Washington. Padilla was also his campaign manager for his first run for office in 1996.
Weeks before election day in 1996, Cárdenas saw an article in the Los Angeles Times, which was left open on Padilla’s desk. The article, which detailed his campaign’s financial struggles, left him feeling low, he said.
Soon after, his sister told him that their father, Andres, had risked his life to save a man who was trapped in a burning field in Stockton decades earlier.
His father never shared that story with him while he was alive.
“I didn’t need that story at that moment,” he said. But “that day, I needed something. And boom, it came.”
“For the first time in my life, I said to myself, this is my community, this is my country,” he said. “And I’m going to finish this. Whether I win or not, doesn’t matter. I’m going to finish this and I’m going to do it right.”
This story will be updated.
2024 Showdown: The real winner of four GOP presidential primary debates could be the guy who didn’t show up
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The four Republican presidential primary debates of 2023 are in the books.
Whether there will be another showdown before the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses remains to be seen.
The big winner from the four prime-time clashes appears to be the candidate who skipped out on all four debates and came out relatively unscathed.
That candidate is former President Donald Trump, who, in his third straight White House run, is the commanding frontrunner in the GOP nomination race with the Iowa caucuses, which kick off the 2024 GOP presidential nominating calendar, and the New Hampshire primary fast approaching.
TRUMP ONCE AGAIN OFF THE HOOK DESPITE THIS CANDIDATE’S BEST EFFORTS
“They did not change the fact that former President Trump will likely be the nominee and will likely win Iowa and New Hampshire by large margins,” said Jimmy Centers, a longtime Iowa-based Republican strategist and communicator who served on multiple presidential campaigns.
Dave Kochel, another veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns with decades of experience in Iowa, emphasized the debates have been “the semifinals.”
He said Trump’s had “a bye week” and that he’s already “going into the finals.”
RNC CHAIR MCDANIEL DEFENDS THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING GOP 2024 FIELD
Trump made history earlier this year as the first former or current president to be indicted for a crime, but his four indictments — including those in federal court in Washington, D.C., and in Fulton County Court in Georgia on charges he tried to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss — have only fueled his support among Republican voters.
Wednesday’s debate — with just four candidates on the stage — was the smallest to date but delivered some of the biggest fireworks.
Much of the verbal crossfire at the showdown at the University of Alabama was directed at Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina governor who has enjoyed plenty of momentum this autumn.
Despite the best efforts of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who repeatedly chastised his rivals for failing to verbally confront Trump, the former president once again emerged with relatively few bruises.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN PREVIEWS ‘EXTREMELY AGRESSIVE’ PUSH IN IOWA
“We’re 17 minutes into this debate. … We’ve had these three acting as if the race is between the four of us,” Christie said as he pointed to Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
Christie said it was “ridiculous” his debate rivals wouldn’t discuss Trump.
“I’m in this race because the truth needs to be spoken,” Christie said. “He is unfit to be president.”
Christie’s jabs at Trump drew boos a couple times during the debate, including in his closing comments when he predicted Trump would be convicted and would be unable to vote for himself.
“If we deny reality as a party, we’re gonna have four more years of Joe Biden,” Christie warned.
But Christie’s scolding of his rivals mostly fell on deaf ears. They mostly avoided direct criticism of Trump even when the moderators asked a series of questions regarding the former president.
“None of them on that stage tonight talked about his conduct. They acted as if this trial that’s coming up in March isn’t even going to happen. That’s why I said tonight, ‘Can we stop pretending that four of us are the only people in this race?’” Christie told reporters in the spin room after the debate.
DESANTIS STOPS IN ALL OF IOWA’S 99 COUNTIES, BUT WILL IT HELP HIM CLOSE THE GAP WITH TRUMP?
At one point during the debate, Christie and DeSantis engaged in a heated exchange as Christie pushed DeSantis to answer whether he thought the 77-year-old former president was fit for office.
While DeSantis reiterated that “we should not nominate someone who is almost 80 years old,” he wouldn’t go any further. It was the latest example of the reluctance of the major candidates other than Christie to lay into Trump as they try to succeed the former president.
Asked about his confrontation with the former New Jersey governor, DeSantis said Thursday on “Fox and Friends” that when it comes to taking on Trump, Christie “was trying to go in a much different direction.”
Karoline Leavitt, a former Trump White House press official and former GOP congressional candidate who’s a top spokesperson for the Trump-aligned MAGA Inc. super PAC, argued the debates have been “pointless” and “the biggest waste of time and money and energy that we’ve ever seen.”
“Our message consistently — and it continues to get more worthy every day — is that it’s so beyond time for them to do what’s best, realize that they don’t have a practical pathway to the nomination … and they should be unifying around the president,” Leavitt told Fox News Digital. “That’s been our message for a long time, and I think it’s just become more and more apparent with every single one of these debates.”
While the debates haven’t changed the dynamic at the top of the race, they’ve made an impact.
Haley has risen in the polls in recent months, thanks in part to well-received performances in the first three debates. She has leapfrogged DeSantis for second place in New Hampshire and her home state, which holds the first southern contest. And she’s aiming to make a fight of it in Iowa, where she is pulling even with DeSantis in some of the latest polls.
Her rising status was evident Wednesday night, as she came under repeated and withering attacks from DeSantis and Ramaswamy.
Even Christie, who defended Haley from Ramaswamy’s degrading attacks, highlighted his policy differences with his fellow former Republican governor.
Centers, who served as a top communicator for current Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and former Gov. Terry Branstad, said the debates “have changed things in the sense that here in Iowa and New Hampshire Nikki Haley has positioned herself to come in second place and become the clear alternative to former President Trump.
“Absent these debates, we would not be having the conversation we’re having today about Nikki Haley. We’d be talking about Gov. DeSantis still being the alternative to former President Trump.”
Looking ahead, the immediate question is whether the Republican National Committee will continue to host nominating debates, with the next two expected to be held next month in Iowa and New Hampshire ahead of the caucuses and primary. The RNC could potentially bow out and decide to allow state parties to team up with media organizations to run any future debates.
Sources with knowledge of the national party committee’s thinking told Fox News the RNC was not expected to make any decision on upcoming debates until after Wednesday’s showdown.
Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.
Hunter Biden charged with tax crimes in Los Angeles
Hunter Biden, the president’s son, was indicted Thursday in Los Angeles on several federal tax charges, marking the start of a second criminal case that will proceed during his father’s reelection campaign.
Biden, who resides in Malibu, was accused of failing to pay his taxes on time from 2016 to 2019, filing false and fraudulent tax returns in 2018, and tax evasion, according to the 56-page indictment.
The charges in the nine-count indictment span a period when Biden was addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine, which he documented in graphic detail in a memoir that dwells on the death of his brother, Beau, along with the grief and depression that consumed him and his family.
Biden has since become sober, paid his taxes, along with penalties and interest, and his lawyers are expected to point to his well-publicized addiction to explain his chaotic financial affairs.
But prosecutors contend that he “willfully” failed to file and pay his taxes on time, and that rather than pay the IRS, he plunked down cash for a bacchanalia across L.A. featuring “drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature.”
Further, prosecutors allege that when preparing tax returns in 2020, in the early months of his sobriety, Biden misclassified a litany of personal expenses from 2018 as business expenses to reduce his tax burden. Those expenses include tuition for his daughter and a Venmo payment to an exotic dancer, according to the indictment.
If convicted of all charges — six misdemeanors and three felonies — Biden would face a maximum penalty of 17 years in prison, although federal guidelines would call for a far lower sentence.
The case was unsealed on the eve of President Biden’s arrival in Southern California for his first in-person fundraising trip here since Hollywood strikes put a pause on campaign events.
The charges come months after Hunter Biden was set to enter a plea deal for tax and firearms violations. The deal would have avoided time behind bars and included immunity from additional federal charges, but it collapsed under questioning by a federal judge in Delaware. Shortly after, Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland appointed David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware, as special counsel.
Weiss has since brought a fresh indictment in Delaware against Biden for the firearms violations, accusing him of lying about his drug use in 2018 when purchasing a gun that he briefly owned. Biden has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which are rarely filed as a standalone case.
The special counsel also brought the tax charges against Biden in California, asserting in a statement that the president’s son “spent millions of dollars on an extravagant lifestyle rather than paying his tax bills.”
Biden’s defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, emphasized that his client had long ago paid his tax debts and accused Weiss of bowing to Republican pressure by filing “unprecedented and unconstitutional gun charges.”
“Based on the facts and the law, if Hunter’s last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not have been brought,” Lowell said, an apparent nod to millions of people who annually fail to pay their taxes on time.
“Now, after five years of investigating with no new evidence — and two years after Hunter paid his taxes in full — the U.S. attorney has piled on nine new charges when he had agreed just months ago to resolve this matter with a pair of misdemeanors.”
Lowell noted that he had written to the special counsel’s office this week, seeking a “customary meeting” to discuss the tax inquiry. “The response was media leaks today that these charges were being filed,” Lowell said.
The indictment offers the most detailed window into the Department of Justice’s long-running inquiry into Biden.
In his memoir and in several interviews, Biden has been open about the depths of his addiction and unsavory lifestyle in L.A., when he lived out of the Chateau Marmont, Hollywood Roosevelt and other luxury hotels in a haze of sex and crack-induced euphoria. “I never slept. There was no clock. Day bled into night and night into day,” Biden wrote in “Beautiful Things,” in which he recounts his journey to sobriety.
Still, the grand jury indictment outlines how such sordid travails were fiscally carried out — with $7 million in income from 2016 to 2020 from various business dealings — and uses Biden’s own words to claim discrepancies in his tax returns.
The most serious charges stem from 2018, the height of Biden’s addiction. Prosecutors allege the filing of that year’s tax returns for both Biden and his business, Owasco PC, was fraudulent and evasive.
Those returns were prepared in early 2020 by an accounting team in L.A. Prosecutors describe a three-hour meeting that Biden had with the accountants that year where he reviewed records to confirm their accuracy and used a yellow highlighter to indicate outlays that should not be deducted as business expenses.
According to the indictment, Biden failed to identify several personal expenses, including the Venmo payment to an exotic dancer; $2,312.50 to a test prep service for one of his daughters; and a $30,000 law school tuition payment for his daughter.
The indictment makes no mention of Biden’s father, nor does it specify the amount that Biden allegedly under-reported his taxes or how that would ultimately impact his tax bill.
Although prosecutors claim that Biden in 2020 “never told” his accountants about his extensive drug and alcohol use, “which might have prompted greater scrutiny of his claims of hundreds of thousands of dollars in business expenses,” he had already begun discussing his alcohol and drug addiction in public.
Times staff writer Stacy Perman contributed to this report.
Video: The Latest Challenge to the Voting Rights Act
OPEN: A court recent ruling recently could deliver a death blow to the Voting Rights Act – a law that has protected Black Americans’ political power the voting rights of minority communities for six decades./////A federal appeals court issued a ruling last month on an Arkansas redistricting case that could drastically weaken the Voting Rights Act, a law that has protected minority communities’ political power for almost six decades. ALT: A recent court ruling could make it harder for people to challenge state’s racially discriminatory voting practices. ALT : The Voting Rights Act has been the single most …. but a recent court ruling could ALT: As voting rights have become a flash issue, a recent court ruling in Arkansas could….. The ruling by the 8th Circuit appeals court, which is almost certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court, would effectively bar private citizens and civil rights groups from suing under section 2 of the law. To understand that, we need to take a quick look back at the law itself… Background on the Voting Rights Act The Voting Rights Act was signed into law in 1965, and was one of the most significant achievements of the civil rights movement. The law rolled back discriminatory Jim Crow laws that were meant to disenfranchise minority communities. Since then, it has evolved, and it’s been under attack almost since it was passed. Why Section 2 is so important This latest ruling affects Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which allows private citizens (and civil rights groups) to fight racially discriminatory voting practices by states. Over the years, dozens of lawsuits have used Section 2 to challenge heavily gerrymandered redistricting maps. But in 2021, when voters in Pulaski County, Arkansas challenged a redistricting that diluted the voting power of Black voters Judge Rudofsky, a Trump-appointed federal judge, ruled that “only the attorney general of the United States may bring suit” to enforce Section 2. That decision, which has since been upheld by the 8th Circuit Court, takes the power to file lawsuits to enforce the Voting Rights Act away from individual voters. Legal experts and commentators say this is a very unusual interpretation of the Voting Rights Act. In his dissent, Chief Circuit Judge Lavenski Smith noted that at least 182 successful Section 2 cases have been brought in the past 40 years, only 15 of which were brought solely by the US Justice Department./// Over the past 40 years, more than 90 percent of successful Section 2 cases were brought by individuals or civil rights organizations///Over the past four decades, fewer than 10 percent of successful section 2 cases were brought by the US DOJ The Arkansas ruling is almost certain to be appealed to the Supreme Court. [Several legal experts I spoke with said tktktkt] But for now, it only affects/applies to states in the 8th Circuit’s jurisdiction — Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Could it impact any of these states in a way with national resonance? Whether or not the Supreme Court upholds this Eighth Circuit ruling, we’re almost certain to see other challenges to voting rights in the coming months.
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