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Roundtable: The Trump Effect, Straw Donors, Border Crossing Difficulties

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in San Diego, May 27, 2016.
Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in San Diego, May 27, 2016.
Roundtable: The Trump Effect, Straw Donors, Border Crossing Difficulties
Roundtable: The Trump Effect, Straw Donors, Border Crossing Difficulties
The Trump Effect, Straw Donors, Border Crossing DifficultiesGUESTS:Michael Smolens, government and politics editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune Amita Sharma, reporter, KPBS News Jean Guerrero, reporter, KPBS News

Donald Trump shakes up his top campaign staff as Hillary Clinton rises in the polls. Was a was on him -- conspiracy trial continues and there are new revelations about illegal campaign contributions. Getting a century passed across the border is crucial for divided families entirely unpredictable. I marks are the KPBS roundtable starts now. Welcome to our discussion of the weeks top stories. I am Mark Stoddart and join me at the KPBS roundtable today are Michael Smolens -- interview and But have you back today. Investigator reporter, Amita Sharma of KPBS news Hi. And -- Jean Guerrero also KPBS Welcome back. Donald Trump continues to dominate political discussion in a strange election year. Thales accused President Obama and Hillary Clinton of founding ISIS and disparage the media for reporting what he says. Out Trump hasreplaced his campaign chief of the fellow firebrand him to unleash the full on all. The impact our chum sinking poll numbers having on him and on about races and Republican fortunes overall was first we get a clip of both candidates this week. I'm asking for the vote of every African-American citizen so ugly in our country today who wants a different and much better future. They can make him read new words, Teleprompter. But he still the same man who insult gold star families, demeans women, Michael, let's start with the shakeup this week in the chum campaign, who is in and who is out? The 10 reside today on Fridays been in all sorts of trouble I think were issues with his relations and the money he's been taking from existing Ukraine and that's been an issue but I think found that there was a political misfit with him and Donald Trump. Manafort was an experience guy. Right, he drove the convention here in this maze BroadSoft. He's hired a CEO and think that's the term they use Christine been and who is the firebrand had that the -- is organization and we know he's about, he's a very conservative attack oriented love people think he's divisive and Kelly and Conway provoking pollster who's been involved in campaigns. He is as you say is known as applicable Street fighter here, does this indicate for the two plus months we have left leading up to the November election? It is interesting. Trump continues to confound. We all expect after this is going to come out guns blazing, swinging hard and -- herbal even though I think she's a little bit or reigned in then abandoned is to let Donald be Donald. Lecham fill comfortable in his own skin which is an interesting way of putting it but in his first speech after this whole shakeup and so forth it was the most on Trump in moment I've seen him. He gave very Skibitski, he apologized and had regrets for some of these is that sometimes he says stuff in the heat of the moment and he was reaching out in an inclusive way, all the things that we did not think we would see under the new ban in mode so it is really hard to say where is going. We're going to see some bareknuckle stuff from Trump agrees but some tough immigration at out in key states and swing states and we know that that's a huge issue among people. It worked well here for the Wilson when he was running for reelection of Governor. We are point to see all of that but like I said, out of the chute the meeting was already four the top, and it was a little bit soft. Is there a way for him to turn this around? This always way. Let's not forget his opponent who has also experienced but we've talked about the Hillary and the Clinton fatigue also just got her issues. They will is that the problems as trumpeted, the Clinton foundation just announced they would not be taking foreign donations or donation from foreign interest if she's elected President which some critics differently the voltage was a why don't they stop now this is a potential conflict if she's running for President? I think Bill Clinton's adjusted he's going to stop taking money for speech is so they will eyes is an issue there. Their relations with foreign companies and foreign countries and also I think Trump has a nerve in this whole pay to play business about the foundation and how people Mike Pack unable and able to relate with the State Department when she was sick with Terry. He's really made a lot of hay with that kind of stuff because it is going up for the gold star family, going after Ted Cruz his father and palling around with Lee Harvey Oswald knows, stop spin up them a treasure trove and in horrible some normal some special circumstances can be a legitimate criticisms attacks whatever you want to call it, but it is been subsumed were submerged under Donald stepping on his own foot so we will save if they can buy that what is going to be very difficult. One of the more telling things the losing ground both nationally and in key states. The Washington Post pointed out in key states and even nationally he's losing with white males. That was his work Is right on the middle with that normally. 10 Missouri sure but this is a volatile race and Clinton also is a -- candidate so she should be running away with it but I think they are going to have to keep their put the pedal the whole way down. As we say, a big story right now in your times on the front page gets a his origins have really sunk since the Republican national convention that somewhat of a pump out there, it was kind of neck and neck in the polls. That's diminished since then and now the press is really writing about some of these down ballot races here and isn't going to be distraught affect and what's going to happen in places like even in California? Let's take there'll answer for exam or the staff for several, -- you had a mentor is because he one of the many hearings and Hillary Clinton is he in trouble and his sister? No trouble is quite a way to put it. He's only got to have concerns. Partly come a couple things, Trump affect I think that the Democratic turnout in the primary ended but it turned out really was interested in the Democratic race so that was the focus there and the gavel date his opponent cannot have nowhere and it was only behind by six points in the primary. But Darrell ISO he's accustomed to being this big national figure doesn't have to attend should local fires or committee that much he didn't really do that. He is a ton of fun in the bank and will see a lot more of that the other day he's soft in his click at a gas station convenience store -- Something you may not seen in previous campaigns. If he wasn't up challenge reelection he might've been doing something else that morning. He's a good a list ration of another problem for the Riboud party and that is the leaders within the party who have custody and in terms of continuing to support him -- Trump, exactly. What kind of it tight spot are they in? If they continue to support him a they run the rest of losing legitimacy or if they back away from him that they so they run the risk of alienating chumps core support? You crystallize a problem with there. Republicans aren't between a rock and hard place and they are as Mark use the term down ballot they are wondering whether they should just jettison at least terms of resources to try charmingly focus to try to save certain districts and Senate seats if not progress in record think that that there were be coming into this year with the head of steam to even pick up seats and now they are in danger of losing the Senate and they be far off Olympic but something that house could be in play so they got a lot of problems and I think we will start to see if Trump continues his ways more pullback from the Republican hierarchy in terms of his campaign and focusing on the down dollar basis. Let's talk about a couple of the races closer to home. We've got the race to replace retiring US Senator proper boxer, what's happening there? That's the reason that has put everybody to sleep. Kamal heart Basilica better position. The Attorney General at -- who I think surprised some people with she's got a lot of great and people were surprised I think initially that she got into the race, but she started showing some pretty good life that Harris will he has infrastructure, the whole Democratic party seems to be behind her ago the President endorsed her, the vice President, Michael bluebird is going to be out independent former Republican raising money for her. She's in the darling of the party and the Sanchez has been a little bit on the outside and I just don't see that changing the polls among the money, everything seems to be going in her direction. She could have the Latino vote and how much issue out there really pounding the pavement? She's campaigning hard but I doubt these are quite has the resources and frankly this has been is a prize quite race for U.S. Senate race in California and almost seems to be remember in the good old days the summer used to be a little bit of a downtime and wasn't a campaign stop but they were doing more reorganizing for the general election than what's really per day is a lot more public stop of course presidential campaign for many cycles has defied that but it seems to be pretty low key. I'm sure that Sanchez and particularly -- resources for the fall campaign because she doesn't have white why Harris has. The primary Harris spent a lot, people are wondering whether she spent wisely so there might be an issue there but it would really take I think the real problem to surface for Harris to lose this one. We are at a time of that summit but we will obvious to keep watching this as we get on toward election time and see what Mr. Thompson jobs is and where you goes from here. Sometimes it may seem like it but San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is not on trial in federal court but for major political backers is. AMexican tycoon accused of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates into 2012 campaign for Mayor in San Diego. Putting them on his. That's illegal. The high-profile case known as liaison atrocious to the defense phase next week and Sandy goes the is slated to testify. Start with the defendant remind us what he is charged with and we as. Is on our is a very well known businessman in Mexico whose family made its money primarily through surveillance and other tech algae. So very wealthy and so he is accused as you said in your intro of funneling almost $600,000 into San Diego campaigns primarily for 2012 mayoral race. That's illegal because it is not a US citizen. The law says officer have a green card you cannot give in US campaign. He's accused and there's other defendants here of trying to those the fortunes of Bonnie Dumanis was running for Mayor and Bob Filner was elected and had to resign. Is on out is accused of actually creating an independent spinach or committee, unpack for on he to help her get elected as Mayor in 2012 and contributing $100,000 to that pack. Was also accused of. It another $100,000 in campaign social media services for her campaign which her campaign never recorded on disclosure forms. What if part excluded say that he wanted in return? The prosecution's theory and they believe the probate court is that is on a once -- funds into my am a West, local Miami West. Subject of elements here and that's obviously -- five-star hotels Okay. To tell us what you discovered happened with the demise camping on this fateful date on December 29, 2011, why is that something? Was interesting about this trial and what about this trial is in the opening statement prosecutors said that Azano was a single largest contributor in the 2012 mayoral election. In fact they said that 25% of the money that Bonnie Dumanis in her mayoral efforts came from Azano so we wanted to without look like and what it look like was on a single day December 29, 2011, 26 of the 61 donations of that she received came from people allegedly financed by Azano and some other people included a grandmother with dementia, a gas station worker, the homemaker and all of these people contributed the maximum amount. These are strong donors that is shadowy that answer gives the money and says contribute and -- Right, somebody who takes on the else's money and gives in their own name. That's the allegation. We also found an additional 14 people connected to touch with companies who previously been investigated for start giving also gave on that same day. You can get different opinions on this. You talk to some legal experts on strong donors and what they mean. The legal opinion is -- some people say look how much campaigns are busy places and they simply do not have the staff to go to and that every single contributor. Other people will say but, the legal onus is on the donor to not violate federal election law and give if you cannot. But the onus is also on the recipient and that is the you've got to do due diligence. If you see some unusual patterns of giving you have to take a closer look and Bonnie Dumanis herself gave an interview I believe and 20142 former San Diego Mayor project Hedgecock train which she said that my campaign team is a stickler for the rules and they make sure that they are actually careful and don't cross any lines. First of all, what's Azano's basic defense in this case? I spoke with one of his defense attorneys earlier this week and he said campaign finance laws are extremely confusing, can you explain them? Does anyone know what -- is about? How can you expect somebody really hasn't been a lot of time in this country to know what the campaign finance laws are? The other part of this is they want to basically point the blame at -- was a liaison between allegedly of these on between Azano and the candidate who received who allegedly received Azano 20. And he played about in this case. He's pleaded guilty to tax fraud and conspiracy charges. He was on the prosecution's list to take the stand, the witness list he however was not called to the stem. As we said at the outset the prosecutions phase is over now, we are going to shift into the defense. It is not quite over, this probably elaborate of testimony that's what you take place on Tuesday. But haven't called the District Attorney and their part which you would think if they are saying they made this illegal contribution you bring the person in who got the contribution improve that up and they didn't call. I think from their perspective the District Attorney is not on trial here. It is interesting though they've actually put on e-mails as evidence -- Dumanis where she said that she's just been on a conference call with Azano and other people and she's very excited to be talking about social media service guru, master of incident campaign stop who Mr. A Eshoo first two Azano wants her to meet. It should bepointed out that Bonnie Manis met at least twice with Azano that we know of. She had this conference call with him and she wrote a letter of recommendation for his son to USD there's also a second letter from Bonnie Dumanis but we don't know the content is. What does she say happen that she simply didn't a blog, didn't know he was not a US resident with this in? In the case was first installed she said she was outraged Binchy was angry at what's being alleged that this was the first that she had heard of it. She has been asked about her contact with Azano and she's changed her story couple of times. She first said that she did remember him, she met him once and then we have found out that the contact was a little bit deeper than that. I go, we have a little bit of time on the segment. She really won in the court of public opinion because she got elected what love the high points of these locations we are talking about were already out there. A lot of them or not -- what are the key ones that she wrote a letter of accommodation for Azano sunt University of San Diego and it is a court case by her opponent try to get that letter public like the day before the election or shortly before the election and a judge didn't want to get involved and he thought it was political so whether this comes out in court or not that Dumanis has been very limited and what she's talking about and as we've learned almost by group to court documents that her relationship with Azano was much deeper than just publicly talk about. With that, but trial? Does anybody really a gentle care because as that in anybody's interest? I don't know that it is anybody's interest ago you asked whether prosecution and up on her on the stand. She's a bit of a liability cause once she goes on that stand in the prosecution either asks her did you know that Mr. Azano, did you think he had a green card? If you he thought he had a green card, does that mean you asked him and if you asked him what did he say? If you did not ask them, why didn't you ask him? That's a bit of a problem. If she goes on the stand which the defense says she will take the stand next week, and nobody ever asks that question about what she knew of Azano is ill legal status that's also a public. The jury may save the government has proven his case and that was did he give knowingly give them a did he funnel the money to these candidates? If that's although looking at, find but if there are questions than the jury's mind that they are going after this guy, what with candidates? What about the e-mails and she's on the stand and nobody asked her whether she knew? The jury might not like that. Could be a big problem. We will watch next week as it continues to unfold. We are going to move on our board crossing with Mexico is the world's busiest and even with the major recent overhaul can take hours to cross back into the US. That's why Sentri was created, an expedited and expedited system for frequent border crossers willing to ghost of the background checks. Some people whose lives general the border are being denied the chance to gain Sentry status. Start with the Sentry program, an acronym, what does it stand for? It is a clunky name, it is a secure electronic network for travelers rapid inspection. SENTRI. That's what everybody calls it SENTRI, let's across much faster, basically you give U.S. Customs and border section permission $3100 application to do a thorough background check on you. Then after they do that they can invite you in for an interview and make the final decision on whether or not because I. It can save hours which for any number of people for any of this obviously but we are going to get into the specifics. Your story was about women specifically for barred from the SENTRI program. They have the money, they are willing to do the background check, who are they and why cannot they get the past? These are you a citizen women whose husbands were deported to Mexico. They moved to Mexico in most cases to keep their families together. In many cases that the primary breadwinners of their families so they are still having to cross the border to either work in the United States for many of them make the decision to send their children to schools and United States. They want to live in Mexico because I want to keep their families together. So as I say they are straddling the border. Did you have a clip you want to play from your story that features Alicia Lopez. -- with her husband and kids but she works in the US, let's hear her take on it. This also apply for the -- go Graham. For agent told her she would never qualify as she's married to deported man at the time. . . I have no, nothing on my driver record. Nothing of good employment, everything. So what does the government say about why folks like her art he denied this past? Are deemed high-risk mother told during their imprisonment is that because they have -- because they are married to deported person that they are at high risk of human smuggling so they are there denied the past. There's no policy within customs and border protection to deny spouses of deported Mexican SENTRI but it does appear to be a practice. If you look at the guidelines this very specific reasons for which my denied SENTRI for civil if you've been convicted of a crime or subject of a law-enforcement agency investigation and those are very specific reasons but then there's a period -- a vague reason and if you cannot satisfy customs and border protection of your low risk status Army other program requirements and appears to be determined during the in-person interview and that was seems to be preventing these women from getting it The spouse that's been deported they've been deported not because the so they were unauthorized immigrants but they did something else usually in some sort of conviction or crime, is that the case? What I'm getting at is is that a standard if I had a spouse who was not a national and somehow got trouble with the law, is that the standard practice because it is more the criminal background then am I tie to them than the individual myself I'd have a clear record? That's true, that is definitely a practice as well if you have a close tie to a criminal -- Because of this reason that you are not considered low risk. However, a lot of these women were a great because their husbands didn't necessarily commit crimes. I spoke to one woman whose husband was deported, he crossed back into Mexico to visit a relative and was try to cross back and -- -- The border and sent it back to Mexico but he had never been convicted of any criminal -- Stickley immigration status to go walk us through to obey for the border crossers who could really benefit from this SENTRI past, what's up like waiting for hours in line with kids? You did interviews along that line. I spoke to one woman who often find yourself having to pull over to the side because her children get so frustrated with the way they start crying, she needs to change a diaper or breast feed her infant so for those women who have trouble with children it seems to be a very big alert nightmare. This while he changes the lives because it depends on what jobs, careers they pursue, where they live, how separate they are going to be during the week or on weekends, it is real impact on the life. Completely. If you work everyday which Alicia Lopez we heard earlier she does her makeup in the car because she try to save time and she has so much time where she's at a complete standstill. Accusative flat, is there any appeal of a denial in this process for a SENTRI past? There is an option to appeal these decisions. I have not heard of any successful appeals. If you take months to get response in many cases the women simply reapply but it is such an expensive process that was to them decide not to. Okay, very good story. Thank you very much. That does wrap up another week of stories of the KPBS route typical our budget think my guess, Michael Smolens of the San Diego Union Tribune, Amita Sharma of KB this news and Jean Guerrero also of KPBS. Reminder all the stories we discussed today are available on the website to goal I am works hour, thanks for joining us today on the Roundtable.

Is there a local Trump effect?

The presidential race is screaming toward November 8 like a runaway train, causing a rift in the space-time continuum as candidates try to run over their opponents and carry themselves to victory.

OK, maybe not.


But Donald Trump continues to shake up his campaign, the Republican Party and the Democrats as he hurls unscripted invective from the podium of the day.

This week, he did give two substantive (and scripted) speeches, but they came a couple of days after he said President Obama founded ISIS. He also changed the top tier of his campaign staff and on Friday accepted the resignation of campaign manager Paul Manafort.

In California, the prospect of Donald Trump hurting down-ballot Republicans as his poll numbers decline is something the state GOP cannot afford. At the moment, the state is still a deep blue.

There is some speculation, however, that Congressman Darrell Issa, an early Trump supporter, is in danger of losing the 49th District House seat he has held since 2000 to Democrat Doug Applegate.

And the race for San Diego County supervisor in District 3 may be feeling a little Trump effect as well. Kristin Gaspar announced she had voted for Trump in the primary, a statement incumbent Dave Roberts trumpeted back at her.


Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate race between Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez is turning into less and less of a contest as Sanchez, a 20-year House veteran, has so far failed to mobilize Latino support and made several gaffes.

SDUT: To prop up his campaign, Trump turns to a media provacateur

The day of the straw donors

Straw donors are both illegal and unreal.

They're listed as giving campaign funds to candidates for office — but that money has really come from someone else. It's a way to get around campaign finance laws.

If you get caught, you may wind up in federal court in San Diego, charged with conspiracy to violate federal election laws.

Just like José Susumo Azano Matsura, on trial now, accused of being the man behind dozens of straw donations to the tune of $600,000 to the San Diego mayoral campaigns of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and former Mayor Bob Filner.

Azano is a Mexican national and prohibited from contributing anything at all to an American candidate.

A KPBS News investigation found that on December 29, 2011, of the 61 donations to Dumanis’ campaign for mayor, 26 donations, or 43 percent, were from straw donors, all for the maximum $500.

An additional 14 donations arrived the same day from towing companies, which had already been investigated by the San Diego Ethics Commission for straw giving.

Federal prosecutors rested their case this week without calling Dumanis or Filner to testify. There was some indication that Dumanis may be called by the defense.

KPBS News: Volume Of Dumanis Donors Linked To Mexican Businessman Renews Questions About What DA Knew

Mexican businessman José Susumo Azano Matsura, right, walks into the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego with his former attorney, Michael Wynne, July 27, 2016.
Nicholas McVicker
Mexican businessman José Susumo Azano Matsura, right, walks into the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego with his former attorney, Michael Wynne, July 27, 2016.

SENTRI denies entry

Many American wives of deported husbands live on this side of the border and join their spouses in Mexico on weekends.

Some do the opposite, living in Tijuana and crossing the border each day to work in the U.S.

Every border crossing is an endurance test, especially with kids in the car. The lives of these women would be much easier with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection SENTRI pass for trusted travelers. Two- to four-hour border crossings would be reduced to 30 minutes.

Many of these wives report that they have been denied access to SENTRI passes despite being American citizens and having no criminal record of any sort. They are told that they “cannot satisfy the agency of their (low-risk) status,” and are denied a pass.

There is no official policy to keep the American wives of men deported to Mexico from getting SENTRI passes, but the Border Patrol is reportedly concerned they may try to smuggle their spouses across the border.

The long wait times for people crossing the border frequently have led to health problems, such as anxiety, back problems and asthma.

KPBS News: American Wives Of Deported Mexicans Say They're Excluded From SENTRI

Bridget and Eduardo Bohorquez are reunited in Tijuana after one of her routine visits to San Diego with her children, July 27, 2016.
Katie Schoolov
Bridget and Eduardo Bohorquez are reunited in Tijuana after one of her routine visits to San Diego with her children, July 27, 2016.