April 21, 2014

Leland Yee Disappoints

Editor’s Note: Richard’s opinions are his alone, no one else’s.

Leland Yee arrested

Leland Yee‘s arrest is a severe disappointment to Toisanese, Chinese-Americans, his electorates, the state of California & the AAPI community all. FBI busted, raided & arrested him with 26 members of Ghee Kung Tong, a Chinatown gang for a huge array of charges, all serious & when summed, astounding.

The AAA-Fund has never had a relationship with him in any way & reminds us all how important vetting our endorsed candidates carefully & thoroughly is not just for us as an organization but for our own morality & consciousness. Voting for a candidate is a lot more than who had the most negative ads, who spent the most, whose polls got the most media buzz, who had the most lobbyists donate money to gartner favor, and other demoralizing inane parts of the politics industry. It’s about representing the public for the public good. I tell my friends to do work for the love of the purpose & politicians should likewise take heed.

AAA-Fund Endorses Swati Dandekar to Make History in Iowa

Editor’s Note: Stay atop Election 2014 here at our blog, at our Facebook & at our Twitter.

AAAF logo

For Immediate Release March 14, 2014

Contact: Gautam Dutta

AAA-Fund Endorses Swati Dandekar to Make History in Iowa

Dandekar would be First Iowa Woman to Win Federal Office and First South Asian Woman Ever in Congress

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the Asian American Action (AAA) Fund announced their endorsement of Democrat Swati Dandekar for U.S. House of Representatives in Iowa’s First Congressional District. Dandekar is running in an open race to fill the seat of congressman and current Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

“It’s high time Iowa finally elected a woman to Congress. We are honored to support such a dedicated public servant,” said Gautam Dutta, Executive Director of the AAA-Fund. “Swati Dandekar has a proven record of success advocating for Iowans. Her experience fighting for greater educational access and science research to spur economic competitiveness make her an ideal candidate for Iowa. Her unique life story as a first-generation immigrant from the heartland would break new barriers if she were to become the first South Asian female elected to Congress.”

Dandekar holds a bachelor’s in biology and chemistry from Nagpur University and a graduate degree in dietetics from Bombay University in India. She lives in Marion, Iowa with her husband and two sons.


The AAA-Fund is a Democratic political action committee whose goal is to increase the voice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on every level of local, state and federal government in America. To achieve this goal, we address the chronic under-representation of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs) as campaign volunteers, campaign contributors, and candidates for political office. The AAA-Fund has endorsed candidates across the country.

AAA Fund Endorses Shari Song for King County Council

November 2, 2013
Asian American Action Fund Proudly Endorses Shari Song for King County City Council
Rising Star and Business Leader Seeks to Continue History of Community and Public Service

The Asian American Action Fund, a national Democratic Asian American political action committee, is pleased to endorse Seattle realtor Shari Song for King County City Council. Song is a first time candidate but a longtime community leader with business experience. She has served on the boards of the Korean American Chamber of Commerce and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS), chaired the Diversity Commission of the City of Federal Way, and most recently was a Member of the Seattle Police Korean Community Advisory Council. Song was awarded the King County Recognition Award for Community Service, and serves as a Director for the Mission Church Learning Center in Federal Way.

Executive Director Gautam Dutta stated, “Shari Song will prioritize improved transportation, promote job creation policies, and focus on public safety. She has a strong track record of leadership in the Asian Pacific American community in King County.”

AAA Fund Endorsements Chair Caroline Fan enthused, “Shari is exactly the kind of candidate who we seek – she is deeply engaged in her community and will work hard for her constituents. She’s built an amazing and broad coalition of support from working families to environmentalists. ”

DC Tues Oct 8: Free Happy Hour with VA’s Mark Keam & Hung Nguyen

The Asian American Action Fund invites you to a happy hour honoring 2 great Asian American candidates running for the Virginia House of Delegates on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013: Incumbent Mark Keam (35th District) and challenger Hung Nguyen (67th District). Contributions accepted by the AAA Fund at this event will be used by the AAA Fund to support outstanding leaders who care about the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Tuesday, October 8
6 – 8 p.m.
Local 16, 1602 U Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Enjoy complimentary pizza and happy hour specials until 8 p.m.

The Asian American Action Fund ( aaa-fund.com) is dedicated to increasing the voice of the Asian
American communities in government by helping to elect candidates who have a demonstrated
commitment to these constituencies.
Suggested Contribution to AAA Fund: $25 at the event or online at http://bit.ly/KeamNguyen13 or sign up for volunteer shifts (with the campaigns) at the event.

Please contact KJ Bagchi KJBagchi@gmail.com or Tom Goldstein TGoldstein@PaxtonGroup.com with any questions.

Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

AAPIs running today, 9/10/13 edition

Quick rundown of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are on the ballots today (Sept 10.) Please note, these are not endorsements from AAA Fund or myself.

New York City (Polls open until 9pm)

Pollsite locator: http://nyc.pollsitelocator.com/Search.aspx

John Liu – running for NYC Mayor.
The current NYC Comptroller, Liu has been careful to point out that he was never a career politician. After serving 2 terms as the first AAPI NYC Councilmember, and head of the Transportation Committee, he ran for and won a citywide election for Comptroller in 2009. He’s running against a wide field of candidates including current frontrunner NYC Public Advocate Bill Di Blasio, former Comptroller Bill Thompson, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Notable endorsements include AFSCME DC 37, Sierra Club

Reshma Saujani – running for NYC Public Advocate.
Saujani first ran for office in 2010 against incumbent Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a liberal lion. At that time, she was a Wall Street lawyer, and since then, Saujani served as Deputy Public Advocate under Bill Di Blasio and founded the nonprofit Girls Who Code. She’s running in the only citywide election that hasn’t gotten that much press (lacking a Weiner or Spitzer), against State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Councilmember Tish James, educator Cathy Guerriero, and NYPD community liaison Siddique Wai. Notable endorsements: Queens Democratic machine, Brooklyn-Queens NOW, a ton of celeb endorsements.

NYC City Council
Margaret Chin v Jenifer Rajkumar (District 1 – Chinatown/ Financial District)
One-term Councilmember Margaret Chin faces a primary challenge from Democratic District Leader Jenifer Rajkumar in an AAPI v AAPI showdown. Chin, a former tenant rights organizer and nonprofit exec, represents the AAPI-heavy district, but has come under fire for being too closely aligned with the developers that she began her career by fighting. Rajkumar, a civil rights attorney, is trying to capitalize on some of that disenchantment. Here’s a closer look.


William Tong – running for Stanford Mayor
Tong, a former State Rep, was the first AAPI elected to the Connecticut legislature. And he picked up a seat against an entrenched Republican incumbent. After running in the CT US Senate primary last year, he hopes to repeat his previous campaign victories by winning a Democratic primary for Stamford mayor. As a state rep, Tong passed anti-gun legislation and was an ardent and vocal supporter of immigrant rights. He recently scored a coup in getting Gov. Dan Malloy’s endorsement, but the local Dems are with a primary opponent. Here’s a recent interview with Tong.

Will update more later as election returns come in.

Update (9/11/13)
Primary day was not the greatest for most of these candidates, as only incumbent CM Margaret Chin won her race, with 58%.


AAPIs a Crucial Vote

Asian American vote for Democratic President

Although pundits and commentators have attributed Barack Obama’s victory in 2012 to support from the Hispanic and African American communities, many have overlooked the critical role that Asian Americans played in that election. That year, President Obama won 73 percent of the Asian American vote, up from 62 percent in 2008. Asian Americans supported Obama in greater margins than any voter group except African Americans.

While Asian Americans currently only comprise 5 percent of the U.S. population, their numbers are predicted to swell to 9 percent by 2050. Furthermore, in swing states like Nevada and Virginia, Asian Americans already wield significant voting strength. As of the 2010 Census, Asian Americans form approximately 7 percent of Nevada’s population and 6 percent of Virginia’s. In other swing states, like North Carolina and Florida, the growth of the Asian American community outpaces the national average.

Even in non-swing states with high Asian American populations, their votes can be very influential in primary elections. For example, Hillary Clinton’s victory over President Obama in the 2008 Democratic primaries in California, where Asian Americans comprise 8 percent of the Democratic electorate, was largely due to the 3-1 margin of support she garnered from that bloc.

As the 2016 presidential race begins to heat up, Republican and Democratic strategists will undoubtedly focus more attention on this crucial voting bloc.

– Michael Dee

Rep. Takano slams GOP Congressmembers’ Faulty Logic, in Red Ink

Takano edits to GOP immig

Like the veteran high school teacher that he is, Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside), decided to take out his red pen and apply it to a letter on immigration that fellow Congressmembers from the other party were circulating. Politico gave him some ink for exposing the shoddy reasoning.

He dishes out kindly but exacting critique, pointing out where the letter has logical and factual flaws. For example, the Republican letter claims that the Senate-passed bill is over 1,000 pages, so Rep. Takano circles this and points out that it’s exactly 286 pages. (Note to Congressmembers and staff: please do your research.)

Rep. Takano repeatedly points out “tawdry accusations” and Republican claims that are lacking in evidence. No, seriously, he points it out no more than four times in the short letter. What assertions does he specifically call out?

-”reportedly not all the Senators have read [the bill]”
-”We are disturbed by the secret and under-handed way that the immigration bill moved through the Senate…”
-”To attempt to do everything at once ensures that little will be done right”
-”will prevent the last minute secret deal-making and vote-buying”

One of Rep. Takano’s best closing lines is, “If you don’t understand the bill, come by my office and I’ll explain it. Weak draft, re-do.”

That’s called taking your colleagues to the toolshed. and why I love teachers as elected officials! (Full disclosure, AAA Fund enthusiastically endorsed Rep. Takano early in his campaign.)


Sen. Hirono pushes tuition aid for DREAMers

Editor’s note: a message from Senator Mazie Hirono, who will be honored at the AAA-Fund Gala in June. Hirono has voted for this amendment.

The Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill is a great start. But it’s not perfect — and I intend to do something about it.

Last week, I introduced several amendments to the bill, but as an immigrant who came to this country as a young student, one of these amendments is particularly close to my heart: It would make DREAM Act students eligible for federal financial aid.

Right now, students who were brought to this country as children through no fault of their own (“DREAMers”) can’t get access to any federal aid. No work-study. No government-backed student loans. Nothing.

My amendment would fix this, and give these students the same options to pay for their education as every other studious young American.

We’re going to face stiff opposition from some of my Senate colleagues who want to make it harder for DREAM Act students to succeed.

Please click here to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of my amendment, and give DREAM Act students access to the same federal assistance as every other student.

DREAM Act students have grown up in our schools, pledging allegiance to our flag everyday.

Now they want to earn college degrees here, to help them give back to their communities, start businesses, create jobs, and pay taxes. Federal aid will make higher education, before a distant hope, possible for so many of them.

To give these DREAMers access to a little bit more of the American Dream — a chance to pay for college education — I need your help.

Over the next few weeks, the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss my amendment — along with 300 others. Help this one make it through.

Please click here to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor of my amendment to give DREAM Act students a better shot at college.

As someone who immigrated to Hawaii from Japan as a young child, I know firsthand the determination it takes to thrive in a new school, a new language, and a new country. I was able to succeed because of all the opportunities I had.

I want to ensure DREAMers have the same opportunities to succeed in the only country they call home as I did — and the same access to federal assistance as their American-born peers.

Please, help me make that happen.


Mazie Hirono
U.S. Senator

‘Run, Ro, Run,’ Honda Responds to Challenger Khanna

Editor’s Note: This post is a re-posting of “‘Run, Ro, Run,’ Honda Responds to Challenger Khanna“. Mike is an AAA-Fund Honorary Board member and a 2012 AAA-Fund Endorsed Candidate.

Do more:

  • read about this race in our previous post
  • check our Twitter for snippets about this race & others; retweet our Tweet about this post

Rep. Mike Honda (second from right), who is being challenged for California’s Congressional District 17 seat by former Obama administration official Ro Khanna, is shown at the India Community Center’s recent 10th anniversary gala. Left to right: Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves; ICC co-founders Gautam Godhwani, Talat Hasan and Anil Godhwani; and San Jose city councilman Ash Kalra (far right). Anil Godhwani and Hasan’s husband Kamil are backing Khanna, while Kalra is endorsing Honda.

  • FREMONT, Calif., United States

    Rep. Mike Honda, who has served parts of California’s Silicon Valley in Congress since 2001, said he was unfazed by the prospect of a high-profile, deep-pocketed challenger to his 2014 re-election campaign to retain his Congressional seat in Northern California’s Silicon Valley.

    “It’s great to have the competition: it sharpens the focus,” Honda told India-West in a telephone interview, after former Obama administration official Ro Khanna announced April 2 his intent to unseat Honda in the 2014 general election.

    Both Honda and Khanna are Democrats. New California election mandates allow candidates from the same party to compete against each other in the general election, if they are the highest vote getters from either party in the primaries.

    “Ultimately, it’s the voters who decide. We have a highly educated, highly informed district who will make decisions based on the information presented to them,” said Honda, chairman emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “We have to present ourselves in a very transparent and open way.”

    Almost 20 months before the Nov. 4, 2014 general election, both campaigns have gone full court press. Honda received early endorsements from President Barack Obama; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; California Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer; California Attorney General Kamala Harris; and Rep. Ami Bera from Sacramento, the sole Indian American in the House. 

    In an Apr. 8 letter, five former Indian American congressional hopefuls threw their support behind Honda, including former Kansas state Representative Raj Goyle; New Jersey state Assemblyman Upendru Chivukula; attorneys Ashwin Madia and Ravi Sangisetty; and physician Manan Trivedi.

    “From civil and religious rights, to minority small business issues and health disparities, to immigration reform to helping individuals from underrepresented communities get elected, Congressman Honda has been there on the frontlines fighting for our communities,” wrote the five, stating that Honda had mentored each of them in their congressional bids.

    The 36-year-old Khanna, who teaches economics at Stanford University and law at Santa Clara University and serves as counsel at one of the Valley’s most venerable law firms, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, has stacked his campaign team with key staffers of Obama’s re-election campaign (see separate story). Khanna has a financial headstart with a $1.2 million campaign war-chest he amassed before announcing his bid against Honda; the Indian American candidate will formally launch his campaign Apr. 14 with an afternoon rally at DeAnza College in Cupertino.

    The former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Commerce Department, who has been dubbed a Democratic rising star, told India-West shortly before announcing his campaign that Honda was out of touch with his Silicon Valley constituency (I-W, Apr. 5).

    But Honda dismissed such characterization, noting to this newspaper that he has represented the Silicon Valley for the past 13 years.

    “The notion that I do not understand the vocabulary of Silicon Valley is nonsense. I’m not an inventor, or a patent lawyer, but I was a science teacher and I do understand what’s going on,” he stated.

    The 71-year-old Japanese American recently “crowd sourced” his campaign Web site, asking the public for their input in delivering his message.

    The Walnut Grove, Calif., native, who has been characterized as a traditional, union-backed Democrat, gave a shout-out to labor’s role in the Valley’s recovery.

    “Labor is the reason we have a strong middle-class here. They build the buildings the innovators work in, the machines that make the silicon chips,” said Honda, enthusiastically championing educators, firefighters and other union-dominant professions. 

    In his 2011-2012 campaign, Honda received approximately $157,000 from labor-related PACs of the total $900,844 he received for that run, according to Federal Election Commission reports. 

    About one-fifth of Khanna’s contributors in 2011 also contributed to Honda’s campaign in 2012, according to FEC filings by both candidates. Significantly, venture capitalist Vinod Gupta – who threw a fundraiser for Khanna in 2011 – contributed $2,500 to Honda’s race in 2012, according to FEC reports.

    Gautam Dutta, executive director of the Asian American Action Fund, told India-West, “Mike has been there from the start. He has seen the Silicon Valley grow, he knows all the movers and shakers and is pretty diverse.”

    “He cares about immigration, education being affordable, and shattering glass ceilings at the workplace,” stated Dutta. The AAAF announced its endorsement of Honda Apr. 9.

    “Today, as Congress debates immigration reform, Congressman Honda leads his colleagues on the issue of reuniting families – one of the greatest concerns for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” Dutta said in the endorsement letter.

    One of the real game changers of the race may be a lawsuit Dutta has initiated against the Top-Two Primary law, which he believes to be unconstitutional by forcing people to lie about party preferences during primary races. The case was heard Feb. 13 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. If the court decides in Dutta’s favor, the California State Legislature will have to amend the law, explained Dutta. If the law is not amended in time for the November 2014 general election, the state will be forced to go back to the old system, where the top vote-getter in either party competes in the general election. 

    Evelyn Li, a Republican who ran against Honda in 2012 but was roundly trounced, has not indicated whether she will run again in 2014. Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the California Republican Party, told India-West, “We will run someone for sure,” but did not hint at prospective candidates.

    “There is not much daylight between Honda and Khanna — two flavors of the same big government medicine,” said Dhillon, adding, “Don’t get me wrong — I think it is great that Ro is taking on Mike Honda. Incumbency is corrupting and sclerotic and competition is good for politics. The more choices the voters have, the better.”

    “Republicans have been winning conservative battles in Silicon Valley recently including pension reform in San Jose and we intend to give voters a true business-friendly choice,” she added.

    Fremont, Calif., Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan told India-West, “This is great, and may get the community organized, there has to continue to be a focus on local politics.”

    “This shouldn’t be our only race. We need to create a robust pipeline of people at the local level,” she added.

    At press time, Natarajan had not announced an endorsement for either candidate. San Jose city councilman Ash Kalra told India-West he was supporting Honda.

AAA-Fund Endorses Mike Honda for Congress

AAAF logo

Contact: Gautam Dutta, Esq. (415) 236-2048; Dutta@BusinessandElectionLaw.com

WASHINGTON, DC, April 9, 2013—Asian American Action Fund (AAA-Fund) endorsed the re-election campaign of California Congressmember Mike Honda.

Mike Honda currently represents California’s 17th Congressional District (North San Jose, Fremont, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Milpitas, and Newark), and has served in Congress since 2001. In addition to sitting on the House Committee on Appropriations, Congressman Honda spearheaded the Wireless Task Force and co-chairs the Democratic Caucus New Media Working Group.

Gautam Dutta, AAA-Fund’s Executive Director, praised Congressmember Honda’s strong record of leadership:  “We’re thrilled to endorse Congressman Honda.  For the past 12 years, Congressman Honda has united the entire Asian American community, and given a powerful voice to Asian Americans, Silicon Valley, and the community-at-large.”

Former Sunnyvale Mayor and AAA-Fund Board member Otto Lee added:  “Throughout his career, Congressman Honda has selflessly mentored many of our community’s rising leaders, including newly elected Congressmember Ami Bera, the third South Asian to serve in Congress.”

Congressman Honda’s commitment to public service is unwavering.  He joined the Peace Corps when he was 24 years old and, thereafter, was an educator in the public school system for about 30 years.  His lifelong dedication to social justice, fighting racism and expanding equal opportunity for all stems from his experiences in internment camp as a Japanese American during his early childhood.

“Today, as Congress debates immigration reform, Congressman Honda leads his colleagues on the issue of reuniting families – one of the greatest concerns for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” Dutta added.

Congressman Honda shares his leadership on issues affecting today’s latest technologies with his longstanding leadership of the Asian American community on immigration, civil rights, and education. He now serves as Chair Emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC).

AAA-Fund is a Democratic political action committee whose goal is to increase the voice of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) on every level of local, state and federal government in America. To achieve this goal, we address the chronic under-representation of AAPIs as campaign volunteers, campaign contributors, and candidates for political office. AAA-Fund has endorsed candidates across the country.