I was very worried that Wall Street shill and New Dem ex-chairman Joe Crowley would follow Pelosi as top House Democratic Leader. Crowley was a really bad member of Congress and when AOC came out of nowhere (well… out of the Bernie 2016 campaign) in 2018 and defeated his reelection bid, I was jubilant.Now the corrupt congressman is a corrupt DC lobbyist.
But what’s most important is not how bad Crowley was; it’s what a difference it makes to have someone in Congress as good as AOC. The story in St. Louis is very similar. Lacy Clay was a corrupt Democrat in a safe blue seat. In a 2020 rematch, he was ousted by Cori Bush, and, like Crowley, is now a sleazy lobbyist. Again, no one cares any longer about how terrible he was; what’s important now is how fantastic Cori Bush is in the House.
I hope I will be saying the same thing next cycle when I talk about shady San Fernando Valley New Dem Tony Cárdenas, namely that we can forget about how bad he was and celebrate how awesome Angelica Dueñas is.
But first she has to beat Cárdenas next month. The two are in a D vs D general election battle— a classic contest between a progressive out to serve working families and a careerist who has only ever served himself.
She came close in 2020, when the final score was 119,420 (56.6%) to 91,524 (43.4%) in a race where Cárdenas spent $1,213,588 to Angelica’s $76,627. This year, Angelica is far better known by voters in Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Pacoima, Sun Valley, Valley Village and Sylmar and in the new areas of the district, like Studio City and Toluca Lake.
Angelica has a unique and refreshing way of looking at what a Representative’s job is. Last night she told us that
“When we are in office we will make sure that we share our space with the community. Our office will be a community empowerment center. We will be teaching our community, and the students in it how to organize, how to run their own campaigns, and how to take over seats of power. My community has been used and abused by the likes of Tony Cárdenas and other corrupt representatives and we have had enough. I believe that it is our duty to use our platform to empower the working-class.”
Credit: Carl J. Petersen, Editorial, Patch, 2020
Her issues are very much in sync with her district:
• Affordable Housing
• A Green New Deal
But around election time every cycle Cárdenas pretends he cares about these things as well, even though he has a record as an elected official of serving only the interests of his top donors. But another factor— almost serendipity— may make all the difference in the world this time. Many of his constituents have been aware that Cárdenas raped a 16 year old girl and that that great champion of women’s rights, Nancy Pelosi, made sure it was covered up in DC. But in the San Fernando Valley, the case still lingers.
And now a new documentary, Pariah, will bring it front and center again. You can watch the very disturbing trailer here. [A serious warning: this is hard to watch and please do NOT view it with any children around.]
The documentary is the story of the San Fernando Valley’s most repulsive and notorious pornographer, Khan Tusion– Mark Handel— a greed-ball local developer, key Tony Cárdenas supporter and brother of racist hate-talk radio host Bill Handel, another Cárdenas supporter. Handel brags in the video that he will never be prosecuted for his violent assaults against women because of his political connections. He’s talking about Tony Cárdenas.
But what is so fitting about Cárdenas starring in a documentary called Pariah is his own ugly piece of this story. Let me introduce you to Angela Villela, who was recognized as an upcoming, important golf superstar at the age of 14. She taught golf at the Special Olympics and started a team in a school that didn’t have a budget for equipment. Widely referred to as “the next great Latina golfer,” she ranked #4 nationally and in 2007 won a presidential Youth Leadership Award. But soon after, she quit the sport and dropped out of UC Berkeley. What happened? Tony Cárdenas is what happened.
A groomer, Cárdenas said he wanted to “mentor” Angela. He hired her father to work for him and moved the family from a cramped trailer park into a 4-bedroom house all paid for by Cárdenas crony Khan Tusion (Mark Handel). Cárdenas kept the favors flowing and took Angela on golf dates nearly every weekend to the point where people assumed she was his daughter. Angela’s attorney called this “years of intense child grooming.”
In 2007 he drugged and sexually assaulted the 16 year old Angela. Cárdenas held her father’s job over her head: “Remember where your father works,” he told her when he wasn’t happy with her. Lisa Bloom, Harvey Weinstein’s attorney, was hired by Angela and she promptly sabotaged the case and got it dropped with “total prejudice,” meaning it cannot be refiled by an ethical attorney.
The only way Cárdenas will ever be held accountable is if the voters of the San Fernando Valley decide to hold him accountable in November… If you can, Angelica Dueñas can use your help now to reach more voters in CA-29.
Thanks for always doing what you can to help make this a better world,
Howie, and the entire Blue America team