By Josh Richman
Rep. Barbara Lee is the newest of four co-chairs of the Congressional Sudan Caucus, which is still trying to draw more attention to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in that African nation.
Lee, D-Oakland, succeeds the late Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., as a co-chair; the other three co-chairs are Michael Capuano, D-Mass., Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Michael McCaul, R-Tex. The caucus was founded in 2005.
In her news release Tuesday, Lee noted ongoing strife in the Sudanese border areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei, and Darfur, and in Yida and other refugee camps in South Sudan. Civilians are subject to the Sudanese government's indiscriminate bombing and denial of humanitarian aid, leaving nearly half a million at risk of starvation.
Lee said she'll work with the other co-chairs "to bring Khartoum, Juba, and all stakeholders together to ensure that peace prevails in the region. At this critical time with Sudan and South Sudan on the brink of war, it is critical that Congress and the United States use all tools at its disposal to bring the two sides to the negotiating table for peace talks."
Lee will take part in a subcommittee hearing on Sudan this Thursday and will host U.S. Ambassador to the United
Nations Susan Rice for a special briefing with members of Congress on international efforts to reach a peaceful resolution.
Lee has been active on the issue for some time, sponsoring legislation recognizing acts of genocide in the region and urging China as well as the Arab League to step up efforts to stop the genocide in Darfur. Her bill to allow divestment from companies doing business in the region was enacted into law in 2007.
Ro Khanna -- the former Obama administration official who raised an eye-popping $1.2 million in 2011's final quarter but vowed not to run against Rep. Pete Stark -- is co-hosting a big fundraiser next week for Stark.
Khanna, of Fremont, along with Hayward Mayor Mike Sweeney and the International Association of Firefighters' FirePAC, are holding the event next Monday evening, April 30, in the Hayward Firefighters Hall. Tickets range from $100 to $2,500.
The list of co-hosts indicates Khanna is leveraging his deep connections in the Indo-American community on Stark's behalf, though some of these names have been avowed Stark supporters for some time: Rahul Roy, Dr. Romesh Japra, Yogi Chugh, Mike Nevens, Mahesh Pakala, Anil Yadav, Joe Johal, Dr. Raj Salwan, Inder Dosanjh and Sunny Ghai.
Khanna has held to his contention that he wants Stark's 15th Congressional District seat, but only when Stark, D-Fremont, chooses to retire. Of course, that plan requires Stark to hold on to that seat this year against two challengers who aren't willing to wait for him to give it up.
Stark already has the clear money edge, though his numbers for the first three months of 2012 were a bit lackluster. He raised $60,255 and spent $90,299 in the first quarter, but had $551,341.79 cash on hand with no outstanding debts as of March 31.
Dublin City Councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell, also a Democrat, raised $100,930.24 and spent $96,592.16 in the first quarter, and had $93,311.05 cash on hand with $8,572.50 in outstanding debts as of March 31. Hayward businessman Chris Pareja, a tea party conservative independent candidate, raised $12,572 and spent $12,680.79 in the first quarter, and had $64.81 cash on hand with no outstanding debts as of March 31.