Ami Bera

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Ami Bera
Ami Bera official portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 7th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by George Miller
Personal details
Born Amerish Babulal Bera
(1965-03-02) March 2, 1965 (age 53)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Janine Bera
Children 1
Education University of California, Irvine (BS, MD)
Website House website

Amerish Babulal "Ami" Bera /ˈɑːmi ˈbɛrə/ (born March 2, 1965) is an American physician[1] who has been the U.S. Representative for California's 7th congressional district since 2013. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Bera was re-elected in both 2014 and 2016 in very competitive races.[2][3][4] Bera is the only Unitarian Universalist in Congress.[5][6]

Early life, education, and career

Bera's father, Babulal Bera, immigrated to the United States from India in 1958.[7][8] Two years later, Babulal Bera was joined by his wife, Kanta.[9] Ami Bera was born in Los Angeles and raised in the Orange County city of La Palma.[10] Bera's parents are from Rajkot, Gujarat and he can understand Gujarati.[1]

He has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from the University of California at Irvine, also earning his Doctor of Medicine degree there in 1991.[10][11] He served as associate dean for admissions at the UC Davis School of Medicine and later served as the chief medical officer for the County of Sacramento.[12]

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2010

Bera at an October 2010 rally for Jerry Brown

Bera challenged three-term Republican incumbent Dan Lungren in the general election for California's 3rd congressional district. Also running were American Independent Party nominee Jerry Leidecker, Peace and Freedom Party nominee Mike Roskey, and Libertarian Douglas Art Tuma. He ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination in California's 3rd congressional district.[13] He raised more money than incumbent Dan Lungren for the five quarters through mid-2010,[14][15] making him the only Democratic challenger with more cash than a sitting Republican member of the House.[16] Bera was one of 17 candidates the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeted to take over Republican-held or open seats in 2010.[17]

Lungren was the only incumbent Republican whose race was rated as a "tossup" by CQ Politics, but was later rated back to "Lean GOP" in the final days before the election;[18] and the district was considered competitive by both parties. Polling by the liberal website Daily Kos in September 2010 showed Lungren leading Bera, 46%–38%.[19][20] Bera cited health care, education and economic recovery among his top legislative priorities. In November, Lungren won re-election, defeating Bera 51%–43%.[21]

2012

Bera announced a rematch against Lungren in 2012. The district had been renumbered as the 7th District, and made somewhat more compact. It lost all of its territory outside of Sacramento County, making it slightly friendlier to Democrats.

On November 13, 2012, Bera attended freshman orientation as congressman-elect while votes were still being counted.[3] Candidates in these tight races sometimes attend the orientation by the Committee on House Administration, which was overseen by Bera's opponent, Dan Lungren.[22]

Bera's first official Congress photo

On November 15, 2012, the AP called the race for Bera, who won 51%–49%.[23][24]

2014

Bera ran for re-election in 2014, facing former Republican congressman Doug Ose, who had represented what was then the 3rd from 1999 to 2005, in the general election.[25] The Rothenberg Political Report rated the 7th district "Lean Democratic," but The Sacramento Bee reported that Bera was "viewed by both parties as one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country."[2][3] Bera was a member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Frontline program, designed to support vulnerable candidates.[26] In June 2014, Politico reported that the DCCC planned to support Bera with $1.7 million in ads throughout fall 2014, and the House Majority PAC, a political action committee designed to support Democratic candidates, reserved $200,000 for late-election television ads.[27]

The Hill reported that Bera's campaign received donations from parents of another Democratic candidate, Kevin Strouse, only to have Bera's parents then donate a similar amount to Strouse's campaign. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, "The donations appear legal, campaign finance experts say, though two said any agreement among the parents to trade donations could be viewed as an attempted end run around contribution limits."[28][28][29] In May 2016, Bera's father, Babulal, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of elections fraud.[30]

No Labels co-founder and former George W. Bush advisor Mark McKinnon said of Bera, "He is the most important member of our Problem Solvers – of the entire group. He stepped up immediately as a freshman to take a leadership position. He was out early advocating on our big issues like No Budget, No Pay.”[31]

In response to a poll, from the American Sikh Committee to Evaluate Congressional Candidates, Bera did not answer two questions relating to the Indian government's part in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Instead, he noted that in 2005, the former Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, had publicly apologized to the Sikh community for the government's role. Bera also stated that, while it was a tragedy, he was more focused on the treatment of Sikhs in the U.S. and could not dictate how the Indian government should approach the matter.[32] In response, some members of the Sikh-American community publicly withdrew their support for Bera. But with the majority of the Sikh-American population coming from outside of Bera's district, the advocates acknowledged that they were unlikely to affect the outcome of the race.[32]

On election night, Bera "was down by more than 3,000 votes...but came back to win after all the absentee and mail-in ballots were in." In the end, he won 50.4% of the vote to Ose's 49.6%.[33] In May 2016, Ose was present at the proceedings against Bera's father, Babulal, to "observe justice".[30][28]

2016

Bera ran for re-election in 2016. He faced Republican Scott Jones, the sheriff of Sacramento County, in the general election.[34] In January 2016, the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club, Bera's home club, voted against endorsing him, citing concerns with Bera's record on trade and Syrian refugees.[35]

Bera defeated Jones in the general election, winning 51% of the vote to Jones' 49%. The margin of victory was 4,802 votes.[36]

Bera's 2016 race was "one of the nastiest Congressional races with allegations and insinuations being bandied back and forth" and was also "one of the last two House races in the entire nation yet to be called." As he began his third term, he was joined by three new Indian-American House members – Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois, Pramila Jayapal from Washington state, and Ro Khanna from California. Silicon Valley entrepreneur M. R. Rangaswami said Bera "was the first Indian American to be in Congress in a long time and now can actually lead a Caucus...able to shepherd Pramila, Raja and Ro and get them going during their freshman year."[33]

Since the 2016 elections, which saw the election to the House of three other Indian-Americans and to the Senate of the first Indian-American Senator, Kamala Devi Harris, Bera has been described as the "Godfather" of Indian-Americans on Capitol Hill.[37]

Tenure

In an interview covered in the Elk Grove Citizen, Bera said his first year in Congress "was about being focused here in the district but also building my reputation in Washington, D.C."[38]

In October 2013, Bera announced that he would give up his federal pay for the duration of the government shutdown. He also announced that in response to sequester cuts, he would donate 8.2% of his check each month to local organizations impacted by sequester cuts.[39]

In a 2015 op-ed supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Sacramento Bee, Bera copied several sentences from documents produced by the Business Roundtable and Third Way and from an Obama White House report. "I don't know if this cut-and-paste job rises to the level of plagiarism," said Jason Stanford, a top official at the Coalition To Stop Fast Track, a labor-backed effort to pressure Democrats to vote against the White House on trade, "but Congressman Bera sure comes across like someone whose spending more time listening to corporate lobbyists than speaking for the thousands of his constituents who have asked him not to vote for fast track." Steve Smith, a spokesman for the California Labor Federation, said, "It's really unfortunate that Rep. Bera would rather parrot the talking points of corporate lobbyists and D.C. insiders than listen to folks in his own district who overwhelmingly oppose fast-tracking a critical trade deal that could lead to hundreds, if not thousands, of lost jobs in the Sacramento region." Bera later wrote an apology for copying the corporate line too closely.[40][41]

Political issues

Health care

In May 2013, Bera voted against repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.[42][43]

Syrian refugees

On November 19, 2015, Bera voted for HR 4038, legislation that would effectively halt the resettlement of refugees from Syria and Iraq to the United States.[44]

Pakistan and terrorism

In 2016, Bera called on the Pakistani government "to take responsibility and start cracking down" on terrorists based in its country, and praised the Indian government for its "restraint" in the face of a recent attack on an Indian air-force based by Pakistan-based militants.[33]

Indian-U.S. relations

After a June 2016 speech by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Bera exulted, calling it "the perfect speech for this moment in time" and echoing his view that India was becoming "a global leader and a global partner with the United States." "As an Indian American and a Gujarati American," Bera said, "I was thrilled by the prime minister's speech."[45]

Committee assignments

In February 2017, Bera was elected ranking member of the House space subcommittee by House Democrats. His district includes a major Aerojet Rocketdyne facility, located east of Sacramento.[46]

Caucus memberships

Personal life

Bera and his wife, Janine Bera, have one child.[10] They reside in Elk Grove, California.[49]

Controversies

CAIR contribution

In 2010, after Bera accepted a donation from Basim Elkarra, Executive Director of the Sacramento chapter of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the California Republican Party called on him to return the money. In a statement, the CRP noted that "Democrat Senators like Barbara Boxer, Charles Schumer, and Dick Durbin have distanced themselves from CAIR. Boxer even rescinded an award given to Basim Elkarra after further investigating the role of the organization.[50] Bera returned the money after these concerns were raised.[51]

Donors

According to the Sacramento Bee, "for years [Bera] has engaged in a complex series of campaign donations involving his parents and the families of other congressional candidates." Bera and his family have written checks to other Democrats, almost always for the maximum amount allowed under federal law, and those candidates or their families in turn have given similar amounts to Bera. The contributions usually occur within days of one another. This form of 'donor swapping' is legal under current law.[52]

Election fraud

The Department of Justice showed that Bera's father, Babulal Bera, had engaged in a "kickback scheme" whereby he "made the maximum allowable individual contributions to his son's campaign, and he also solicited friends, family members and acquaintances to make contributions, which he then reimbursed with his own funds." This illegal activity involved "over 130 improper campaign contributions involving approximately 90 contributors" and sums in excess of $250,000.[53]

The elder Bera pled guilty on May 10, 2016, in Sacramento District Court for making the contributions in 2009 and 2010. Under the terms of a plea agreement with the senior Bera, prosecutors refrained from charing his wife, Kanta. Although he had immigrated to the U.S. in 1958, Bera's father required a translator in court. Congressman Bera claimed not to know anything about his father's actions, and added that "while I deeply love him, it's clear he faces a grave situation that will have real consequences for him."[54] Although a probation officer suggested that the senior Bera be let off with a fine because of his age and health, the judge described Bera as a "calculated" individual, not "just a naive person who doesn't know how elections work," and went along with federal prosecutors who demanded prison time citing "the serious nature of the crime." Bera's father was ultimately sentenced to a year and a day in prison.[33][30][55]

Sikh-Americans

Sikh Americans in Sacramento who had been Bera's supporters were reportedly "incensed over Dr Bera's refusal to support a resolution alleging genocide against Sikhs in 1984 and worked against him when he ran for re-election in 2014."[54]

Electoral history

California 3rd Congressional District Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Dan Lungren (inc.) 131,169 50.1
Democratic Ami Bera 113,128 43.2
American Independent Jerry Leidecker 6,577 2.6
Libertarian Douglas Arthur Tuma 6,275 2.3
Peace and Freedom Mike Roskey 4,789 1.8
California 7th Congressional District Primary Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Dan Lungren (inc.) 63,586 52.7
Democratic Ami Bera 49,433 41.0
Independent Curt Taras 3,854 3.2
Libertarian Douglas Arthur Tuma 3,707 3.1
California 7th Congressional District Election, 2012
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Ami Bera 141,241 51.7
Republican Dan Lungren (inc.) 132,050 48.3
California 7th Congressional District Primary Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Ami Bera (inc.) 51,878 46.7
Republican Doug Ose 29,307 26.4
Republican Igor Berman 19,431 17.5
Republican Elizabeth Emken 7,924 7.1
Libertarian Douglas Arthur Tuma 1,629 1.5
Independent Phill Tufi 869 0.8
California 7th Congressional District Election, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Ami Bera (inc.) 92,521 50.4
Republican Doug Ose 91,066 49.6
California 7th Congressional District Primary Election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Ami Bera (inc.) 93,506 54.0
Republican Scott Jones 79,640 46.0
California 7th Congressional District Election, 2016
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Ami Bera (inc.) 152,133 51.2
Republican Scott Jones 145,168 48.8

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Haniffa, Aziz (January 29, 2015). "Modi spoke to me in Gujarati: US Congressman". Washington, D.C.: Rediff.com. Modi, he said, spoke to him in Gujarati. "I could actually understand a majority of what he was saying. He knew that my parents were from Rajkot and that I was Gujarati-American." 
  2. ^ a b Cahn, Emily (April 2, 2014). "Ami Bera Challenger Starts Television Ads in California Race". Roll Call. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Tate, Curtis (2014-02-27). "Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera will have to fight for a second congressional term". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ Cahn, Emily (April 2, 2014). "Ami Bera Challenger Starts Television Ads in California Race (Video)". Roll Call. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ Susskind, Jane (2012-11-16). "Religious Diversity in Congress, A Year of "Firsts"". Independent Voter Network. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Hindu Americans Fete First Hindu in Congress as Tulsi Gabbard Prevails in Hawaii". The Hindu American Foundation. November 7, 2012. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  7. ^ Drew Joseph (2010-08-14). "Bera Hopes to Wipe Out Lungren Despite GOP Wave". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  8. ^ Raj, Yashwant (February 16, 2013). "Yankee Doodle Desi". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  9. ^ "Rep. Bera Statement on Campaign Finance Violation". Bera for Congress. 10 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c "Amerish 'Ami' Bera". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on January 10, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Ami Bera (CA)". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  12. ^ "Full Biography: Congressman Ami Bera". Full Biography. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Lungren Foe Avoids Primary Battle". National Journal. 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  14. ^ Drew Joseph (2010-08-14). "Bera Hopes to Wipe Out Lungren Despite GOP Wave". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  15. ^ Drew Joseph (2010-07-20). "Ami Bera runs as an outsider but raises money like a pro". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  16. ^ Kasie Hunt (2010-07-20). "Bera beats Lungren in money chase". Politico. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  17. ^ Scott Bland (2010-09-27). "House Republicans at risk? Districts where Democrats hope for upsets". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  18. ^ Torey Van Oot (2010-09-21). "CQ Politics moves Lungren seat from leans GOP to "tossup"". The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  19. ^ Kyle Trygstad (2010-09-23). "California: Poll Shows Lungren Ahead but Under 50 Percent". Roll Call. Retrieved 2012-11-07. 
  20. ^ Sean J. Miller (2010-09-22). "Democrat closing on California Rep. Lungren". The Hill. Retrieved 2010-09-26. 
  21. ^ "Senate, House and governors races". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  22. ^ Thompson, Krissah (November 13, 2012). "Congress welcomes freshmen, and those on the cusp of membership". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  23. ^ Whittington, Lauren (November 15, 2012). "California:-Bera-Defeats-Lungren". Roll Call. Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  24. ^ "Lungren loses his House seat". San Francisco Chronicle. 2012-11-15. Retrieved 26 May 2014. 
  25. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (Jun 4, 2014). "Bera, Ose headed for a fight over 7th congressional district". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  26. ^ Livingston, Abby (March 5, 2013). "DCCC Announces 26 Members on Frontline Incumbent Retention Program". Roll Call. Retrieved August 25, 2014. 
  27. ^ Titus, Elizabeth (Jun 14, 2014). "Ami Bera will face Doug Ose in Sacramento-area district". Politico. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  28. ^ a b c Palmer, Chris (2014-05-14). "Candidates' parents' mutual donations". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  29. ^ Taylor, Jessica (2014-05-13). "Campaign Overnight: House of cards". The Hill. Retrieved July 28, 2014. 
  30. ^ a b c "Babulal Bera's felonies complicate Ami Bera's re-election effort". The Sacramento Bee. 10 May 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016. 
  31. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (September 29, 2014). "Rep. Ami Bera works to shed labels in tough re-election fight". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved September 30, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Magagnini, Stephen (September 24, 2014). "Sacramento Sikhs split with Bera over Indian government's role in 1984 massacre". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  33. ^ a b c d Haniffa, Aziz. "It's hard to believe a three-term Indian-American Congressman". India Abroad. Retrieved 12 May 2018. 
  34. ^ Miller, Jim (July 13, 2016). "Ami Bera snubbed by California labor group in endorsement list". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 5 August 2016. 
  35. ^ Cockerham, Sean (January 21, 2016). "Rep. Ami Bera's votes leave Democrats debating whether to support him". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 23 March 2016. 
  36. ^ "U.S. House of Representatives District 7 - Districtwide Results". California Secretary of State. Retrieved 17 November 2016. 
  37. ^ Haniffa, Aziz. "'The Godfather' Speaks". India Abroad. Retrieved 14 May 2018. 
  38. ^ Gold, Bryan (December 24, 2013). "Bera discusses first year in office". Elk Grove Citizen. Retrieved 25 August 2014. 
  39. ^ Villatoro, Carlos (October 2, 2013). "Congressman Bera Gives Up Pay Earned During Shutdown". Elk Grove Patch. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  40. ^ Christopher Cadelago (May 5, 2015). "Ami Bera admits Bee op-ed on trade included 'widely used' statements". Sacramento Bee. 
  41. ^ McMorris-Santoro, Evan. "California Democrat's Pro-Trade Op-Ed Uses Talking Points Put Out By White House, Others". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 22 May 2018. 
  42. ^ Sam Baker (June 11, 2013). "NRCC hits Calif. Dems over ObamaCare rates". The Hill. Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  43. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 154". House.gov. Retrieved November 4, 2013. 
  44. ^ Sarah D. Wire (November 20, 2015). "Inside the Syrian refugee vote: California representatives explain what shaped their votes". Los Angeles Times. 
  45. ^ Haniffa, Aziz. "A new symphony in play". India Abroad. Retrieved 19 May 2018. 
  46. ^ Foust, Jeff (February 14, 2017). "Bera new top Democrat on House space subcommittee". SpaceNews. Retrieved 20 February 2017. 
  47. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Retrieved 5 February 2018. 
  48. ^ "Members". Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Retrieved 17 May 2018. 
  49. ^ Bera, Ami. "About Dr. Ami Bera". Bera for Congress. Archived from the original on April 1, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2012. 
  50. ^ HOSENBALL, Mark. "SEN. BOXER RECALLS AWARD TO MUSLIM ACTIVIST". Newsweek. Retrieved 16 July 2018. 
  51. ^ Rooney, Katie. "California's 3rd Congressional District: Dan Lungren vs. Ami Bera". Time. Retrieved 16 July 2018. 
  52. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (May 21, 2016). "Ami Bera fundraising pattern sidesteps donation limits". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 31 May 2016. 
  53. ^ John Myers (May 1, 2016). "'I have, in fact, done the crime': Rep. Ami Bera's father admits illegal campaign contributions". Los Angeles Times. 
  54. ^ a b Haniffa, Aziz. "US Congressman Ami Bera's dad admits to election fraud". India Abroad. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  55. ^ Myers, John; Bollag, Sophia (August 18, 2016). "Rep. Ami Bera's father sentenced to prison for funneling money to his son's campaigns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 November 2016. 

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
George Miller
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 7th congressional district

2013–present
Incumbent
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joyce Beatty
D-Ohio
United States Representatives by seniority
249th
Succeeded by
Susan Brooks
R-Indiana
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