Standing up to Special Interests

I’ve had a lot of experience standing up to special interests.

Struck by the power of the tobacco industry and the significant impact on our nation’s health, my father and I put up a billboard on Santa Monica Blvd in 1987 that tallies smoking deaths in the US….nearly one every minute.  It has been reminding motorists in our area of the dangers of smoking for 25 years, at a considerable cost to me and my family simply because we think it’s the right thing to do.  Similarly, in 2005, I played a key role in helping pass an initiative in Washington State that enacted the then toughest second hand smoke legislation in the country.

Our country cannot have a prosperous future without offering every single child the opportunity to receive a world class education.  Unfortunately, for too many students, our public school system is failing them.  Any real reform has been stymied by politics, largely driven by the political arm of the teachers’ union, which is why I’m a major supporter of Michelle Rhee’s organization, “Students First.”  Students First is an organization dedicated to ensuring that all students have this opportunity to receive a world class education by holding principals, administrators and teachers accountable for results.

I took on the political arm of the trial bar 20 years ago by founding “Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse” in Torrance (CALA.)  Some of our goals included more use of mediation, expanded reach of Small Claim Courts, and empowering juries and judges to award damages to innocent defendants, when justified.  I believe it is important to ensure a fair legal system that allows consumers the right to legal redress, but the explosive growth of frivolous and unwarranted lawsuits have tied up our respected court system and have too often driven legitimate small companies out of business.

Finally, I took on the gun lobby in 1991 when I read about their support for the right to use and own assault weapons and “cop killer bullets.”  Don’t get me wrong; I support the 2nd amendment, but I do not see the need for such extreme ammunition and weapons that play a role in the loss of innocent lives. At the time, Sarah Brady was opening a west coast office for “The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence,” and I put up billboards in Westwood promoting this work.  Mrs. Brady credited my support with helping to “…put our new western headquarters on the map!”

Whether it is through my willingness to stand up to special interests or the support for reforms to benefit our state and country, I have shown a strong commitment to work hard to make a difference.  I’ve done all of this as a private citizen.  I am now hoping to do even more as a dedicated, non-partisan member of Congress.