The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 10/27/14
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thanks to you at home for staying with us
We`ve got a big show coming up. In just a couple of minutes, we`re
going to be talking live with someone who has been living under a forcible
Ebola quarantine for the past 12 days. This is not anybody you have heard
from before. They have never spoken publicly before tonight. And where
this person is quarantined may really surprise you.
So, that`s coming up in just a few minutes. That`s an exclusive that
we`ve got tonight, which is a big deal. I hope you will stay tuned for
But we begin with Major General Daryl A. Williams. Major General
Williams served in the United States military for more than three decades.
He`s a two-star general, winner of the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion
of Merit, Bronze Star. Major General Williams is also the commander of
U.S. Army Africa. He`s the head of U.S. Army operations on the entire
continent of Africa.
That means if the U.S. Army is dispatched to any of the nations on
the continent of Africa, it`s Major General Williams` job to make sure they
have support and security that they need to achieve their mission.
So, General Williams is a very busy man right now. The U.S. military
has a lot going on in Africa right now.
You might remember that U.S. troops were dispatched to Uganda to help
root out the brutal, murderous rebel leader named Joseph Kony there.
They`ve also been sent to the Central African Republic to look for elements
of Joseph Kony`s rebel group.
The American military has sent around 80 troops to the nation of Chad
to help in the search for the missing Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by
Boko Haram. The United States has a longstanding counterterrorism campaign
in the eastern African nation of Somalia and also in Yemen right across the
gulf from Somalia.
A contingent of U.S. troops was sent to Mali to support that
country`s fight against Islamic militants there.
On top of all of that, of course, now is this big new effort in the
Western African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which is going
to be an ongoing effort. It`s going to be a long time deal, because that
effort is for the U.S. military to essentially build up the public health
infrastructure of those entire countries, build up the public health
infrastructure in those countries for those countries so that the out-of-
control epidemic those countries are battling there doesn`t continue to
threaten the rest of the world.
So being the head of U.S. Army Africa right now means you`re busy.
It means you are in charge of a lot. It means being a very complicatedly
engaged person, right, with a lot of life and death demands on your time.
A lot of travel demands on your time. You`ve got a huge territory that`s
under your purview.
There`s a lot of different things going on all over that huge
continent and you`re the top guy in charge of all of it. You are a guy who
is constantly on the road and who is very engaged, right?
And that was the case for Major General Williams, head of U.S. Army
Africa. It was.
Now, though, change in plans, because General Williams and roughly a
dozen other troops just completed a month-long trip to Liberia where they
were part of setting up the first phase of the U.S. military`s response to
the Ebola epidemic in that country. They just finished that.
And now that they have left Liberia and they are headed back, the
Army has made the decision to hold them under a three-week quarantine.
According to the Pentagon, they`ve not liked to be quoted calling it a
quarantine, but it is a quarantine. This U.S. military team traveling back
from Liberia, including the two-star who is head of U.S. Army Africa are
being held in an area not accessible by the public. They aren`t allowed to
leave this location, to go home. They are not allowed visitors. Of
course, while they are being held, they are being monitored daily for
symptoms of Ebola.
I mean, to be clear: none of the members of that military mission has
exhibited any symptoms of Ebola. They were not working directly with Ebola
patients, but they are being quarantined anyway.
And this is new. Under previous public health guidelines in the
U.S., people who had either contact with Ebola patients while wearing
proper protective gear or people who had been in areas where Ebola is
epidemic but didn`t necessarily have direct contact with patients. Anybody
who was conceivably at risk but who themselves showed no signs of having
the disease, before now, they were basically told to be aware of their risk
and monitor themselves and make sure they do not have symptoms. They are
supposed to take their temperature twice a day, be in immediate touch with
public health authorities if they spike a fever or have any other symptoms
with the disease. Essentially, people are supposed to self-monitor for
symptoms and get themselves to qualified health professionals at the first
sign that anything might be wrong.
That`s how it had been. But in the last few days, including now in
the U.S. Army, but not in the rest of the U.S. military, now we have a
little bit of chaos in terms of what the rules are. We now have new public
health rules for specific jurisdictions being announced every few hours on
a state by state and agency by agency basis across the country when it
comes to Ebola. And, frankly, none of the new rules match.
Just in the last 72 hours, we`ve had new announcements from Maryland
and Virginia and Illinois and Georgia and Pennsylvania and New York and New
Jersey, and more are expected, probably more will come in tonight over the
course of this show and into the evening. And none of the things these
states have announced are exactly like the other things other states have
The highest profile policy roll-out from New York and New Jersey was
announced at this press conference on Friday by the press conscience,
ambitious governors of New York and New Jersey. They rolled out their
policy on Friday. That policy roll-out has been a bit of a debacle.
The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in New York was
diagnosed on Thursday. That`s when Governor Cuomo had a long press
conference with the mayor of New York City and other health officials to
assure the state and the country that America`s largest city, that New York
was well-prepared for this eventuality. Everybody should remain calm.
This is all under control and everybody knows what they are doing.
So, that was Andrew Cuomo on Thursday. One day later, the same
Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie decided to
hold another big press conference together. And at that big press
conference they announced that, actually, no, everybody doesn`t know what
they are doing.
Specifically, the federal government`s guidelines, the CDC guidelines
for how to manage Ebola risk – they said those guidelines were not enough.
They were not tough enough for New York and New Jersey and so, these tough
governors were not going to follow CDC guidelines anymore. They had a
They decided it was a better idea to impose mandatory 21-day
quarantines on all medical professionals returning from West Africa.
Ebola does not spread from people who are asymptomatic or from people
who don`t have the disease at all. But New York and New Jersey announced
they were going to quarantine asymptomatic people anyway whether or not
they had the virus.
Why? Because it seemed safer to them. And as Governor Christie
explained at the press conference, they had a chance that very day to prove
that their way was better, health officials be damned. The reason they had
a chance to prove their politician-derived plans were better than the
public health derived plans we were following before is because a health
care worker that very day had traveled from Sierra Leone to Newark, New
Jersey. And so, the governor said she would be the test case for their new
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: We`ve agreed that quarantine is
the right way to go in this regard, and we will work out the particulars of
where this particular individual will be quarantined, whether it will be in
New Jersey or New York. But it`s the first application of this new set of
standards that we have developed over the last 24 hours and now have had
the opportunity to implement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now that we`ve had the opportunity to implement it, we`ve
developed this new application of standards over the course of the last
day. That`s how long we`ve been working on it.
It turns out, though, that the person who had to endure this first
application of this new set of standards developed over the course of the
day turns out she was not going to go along with this happily. She was
having none of it.
And so, the story of this weekend was that Governor Chris Christie of
New Jersey fought the nurse and the nurse won. Her name is Kaci Hickox.
Kaci Hickox 1, Chris Christie, zero.
The New Jersey response to that nurse arriving at Newark Airport
seems to have been one made up in a complete panic up to and including not
even putting her in a normal isolation facility as if she were a normal
symptomatic patient with an infectious disease. Maybe that might make
sense, even though she is not.
They didn`t even do that. Instead, New Jersey decided to build her,
her own kind of weird tent city. She was confined in her own tent with no
running water with an invented porta-potty where you go number two in what
looks look a suitcase and that was their plan apparently, camping for her
outside the hospital because the isolation wards don`t work?
Remember, this is a medical professional who was not symptomatic.
She had not tested positive for Ebola. She has no Ebola symptoms. She is
just a person who had the misfortune of getting off a plane in the great
state of New Jersey.
And this is what they decided to do with her. They made it up over
the course of the last 24 hours. And nurse did not take it lying down,
when these made-up, unscientific bizarre policies were imposed by force on
She wrote a piece about her treatment for the “Dallas Morning News”,
while she was still in her weird New Jersey invented isolated tent city.
She wrote that she was basically being treated like a criminal and a
prisoner. She wrote that nobody seemed to be in charge of what was
happening to her. She said it was chaotic. Nobody would tell her what was
going on, and what was going to happen to her.
She wrote that the United States must treat returning health care
workers with dignity and humanity. She did interviews on other media
outlet. She hired lawyers to represent her.
So, that was all over the weekend, right, on Saturday and into Sunday
morning. And that apparently caused another freak out from New York and
New Jersey, in this case, sort of a freak out in reverse.
After that nurse took her complaints public and the Obama
administration took notice that what New York and New Jersey had announced
and started to implement made no sense from a public health perspective and
they made that assessment public to – publicly to New York and New Jersey,
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo then decided to change his tune.
So, on Thursday, don`t worry, we know what we`re doing. On Friday,
everybody freak out, nobody knows what they`re doing. Saturday, oh, my
God, the nurse is complaining. On Sunday, Andrew Cuomo gets a new idea.
He holds another press conference to say New York will not be doing
what New Jersey is doing all along. He said people can be quarantined and
monitored after they return from West Africa but they can be quarantined
and monitored at home. We don`t have to build them tent cities.
Then after Governor Cuomo changed his mind, then New Jersey Governor
Chris Christie decided that he would climb down as well, and he announced
his big test case for how New Jersey was going to lock everybody up coming
from Western Africa instead was basically a policy in which, if you didn`t
have a place to stay in New Jersey and you landed at the Newark airport,
they would lock you up in a tent for a while. A couple of days but then
give you a ride to wherever.
And so, now, Kaci Hickox has been allowed to go home to the state of
Maine, even though Christie said he was going to forcibly hold her if hear
21 days. Governor Christie after caving on this weird climb off and climb
down on policy this weekend, Governor Christie is now insisting this really
was his policy all along. Nothing has changed at all, which is plainly
But that`s what happens when we look to every jurisdiction in the
country for leadership on something that ought to be guided by science.
Late this afternoon today, the CDC put out their new guidelines
essentially to guide state policy making on this stuff. The new CDC
policies say that people should be evaluated not according to magical
thinking about where people have been or what kind of people they are, but
rather people should be evaluated according to the real risks that they
have been exposed to and the real risks they might pose to others.
But it should be noted that the CDC guidelines can`t be binding
federally. Our regulatory structure doesn`t work that way. So, these CDC
guidelines are set up to be vague enough to leave states room to do it on
their own with the best scientific advice. And as such, these new
guidelines leave states enough wiggle room to create a wide enough range of
policy that there`s probably going to be quite a bit of policy gibber
jabber and uncertainty, even now, even over the next few days, even after
this new CDC advice was released.
But what is interesting and what I think has been lost in all of this
is that even though Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo have a way of gaining
attention for everything they say and even though it seems like states
across the country are rolling out their new individual quarantine policies
because of the New York City case last week and New York and New Jersey
decided to invent bad public health policies in response the day after that
first diagnosis, actually, New York and New Jersey are not leading the way
Whether or not you think this is leadership for good or leadership
for bad, they`re not first. There is another state that has the most
stringent or depending on how you look at it, the most draconian mandatory
quarantine policy in the country. And it is not New York or New Jersey.
It`s not a state really being talked about in the national debate at all.
That state is actually Connecticut.
Democratic Governor of Connecticut Dan Malloy on October 7th, so,
almost three weeks ago with very little national attention, Dan Malloy
three weeks ago declared it to be a public health emergency and empowered
Connecticut`s public health department to institute mandatory quarantine
orders for people returning from West Africa. And the order that Dan
Malloy issued really leaves it up with commissioner of public health in
Connecticut to decide to impose a mandatory quarantine on anyone deemed by
the commissioner to potentially have been exposed to Ebola and to
potentially expose a risk to others.
The number of people affected so far is not totally clear. Our count
as best we can tell shows that eight people have been held under that
mandatory quarantine in Connecticut so far. This is not just people self-
monitoring. This is people who are being held. This is an ordered status.
One of those individuals who is being held in this ordered quarantine
has tested negative for Ebola and yet he is still confined to a quarantine
under order from his state government. He`s never spoken to the media
before about the conditions of his quarantine. His identity has never been
before been publicly revealed. But he now been under quarantine in
Connecticut for the past 12 days and he is ready to talk for the first
time. And that is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: We`ve agreed that quarantine is the right way to go in
this regard and we will work out the particulars of where this particular
individual will be quarantined, whether it will be in New Jersey or New
York. But it`s the first application of this new set of standards that we
have developed over the last 24 hours. And now have had the opportunity to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`ve been working on it for a whole day. Seeing what`s
going to be good. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday announcing
New Jersey`s new and controversial Ebola quarantine policy. The governor
announced a mandatory quarantine for people who had been to West Africa,
even if they had no symptoms of Ebola, a 21-day quarantine.
But then he changed his mind. His first test case for his new policy
was sent home to Maine after only three days. And, in part, because Chris
Christie is a high-profile governor and in part because he announced his
new standards in bombastic political terms, that quarantine announcement
and then that cave over implementing it got a ton of attention over the
past few days.
But New Jersey was not the first state to do something like this.
It`s been a much lower profile thing, but the first mandatory Ebola
quarantine was actually put in place by the state of Connecticut under a
policy announced just under three weeks ago.
Connecticut, as best as we can tell, has approximately eight people
under mandatory quarantine orders tonight.
Yale University PhD student Ryan Boyko is one of them. He travelled
to Liberia to help the Liberian ministry of health set up a computer
database to help them in their fight against Ebola. Since returning to
Connecticut, Mr. Boyko has tested negative for Ebola, but under state
orders, orders of the state government of Connecticut, he`s been
quarantined at home for the past 12 days and counting, with an armed police
officer standing guard outside his door.
He`s decided now to talk publicly about his quarantine for the first
Joining us via Skype from his mandatory quarantine inside his
apartment is Ryan Boyko, in Connecticut.
Mr. Boyko, thanks very much for being with us tonight. I appreciate
your decision to talk with us.
RYAN BOYKO, YALE UNIVERSITY PHD STUDENT: Hi. Well, thanks for
having me on.
MADDOW: So, first of al, what were you doing in Liberia? How long
were you there? And what were you working on?
BOYKO: I was there for three weeks. I was helping them build their
contact tracing system. So, contact tracing is essentially just
identifying and following up with everyone who has been in contact with
somebody who later tested positive for Ebola. And in every other epidemic,
contact tracing and then immediately isolating those contacts that become
sick is what ended the epidemic.
And so, just the same thing should apply to this epidemic. It`s just
larger and requires more effort now.
MADDOW: When you were there working on those database solutions,
trying to help them in that side, the administrative side of their
response, were you in direct contact with people who were sick or were you
around dead bodies at all? Were you in sort of a front line setting at
BOYKO: No. It was remarkably mundane for what you might imagine.
But basically just going from a hotel to the ministry of health where I
worked in an IT office most of the time and back to the hotel to eat and go
to bed basically every day.
MADDOW: So, as I understand it, you left Liberia on October 10th, so
2 1/2 weeks ago. When you came back to Connecticut, when you came back to
the United States, as far as I understand it, you weren`t immediately put
into quarantine. You were put into quarantine several days after you got
What happened there? Why did the state decide to quarantine you?
BOYKO: So, yes, I arrived back on a Saturday. And on that
Wednesday, I had a low grade fever that eventually wound up getting to
And so, I was in contact with physicians at Yale Health per their
protocol. And they made the decision to send me to the hospital for
testing for Ebola. And that made the news, and the governor actually had a
press conference for Ebola already planned the next afternoon.
And so, it was just serendipity, I suppose, the timing was such that
the governor felt like he could make a political point, I think, by
instituting the quarantines then.
MADDOW: Once you were symptomatic, having, you know, been where you
were and having been working on what you`d been working on, were you
worried that you might have contracted Ebola? When you got that low grade
fever, were you worried?
BOYKO: I mean, it`s – the thought occurs to you, but I really
wasn`t very concerned. I knew that I had no contacts that should have
given me Ebola, and it really is spread by – direct contact with bodily
fluid with very sick and dead individuals.
So, I wasn`t very concerned, but the thought, you know, crossed my
mind and it was a great relief for my mom especially when the negative test
result came back.
MADDOW: So, you got a negative test result while you went through
that process. The state of Connecticut issued you a mandatory quarantine
order which was not specific to you being symptomatic, not specific to the
results of your blood test. It was – what was the order, and what did it
tell you to do?
BOYKO: Yes, no, it wasn`t. And it applied to a colleague of mine
who went with me and was never exhibited any symptoms. At the time, the
governor may have that press conference, he released a statement that said
that everyone coming to Connecticut from those three countries would be
quarantined. And it seems like he`s been following through on that policy
ever since then.
MADDOW: What is the circumstance of your quarantine? Obviously,
you`re in your own apartment. I`ve been told that there`s a police officer
standing outside your door to make you think otherwise if you decide to
leave or if anybody decides to visit you. But what are the circumstances?
What can you do and what can`t you do and what`s it been like for the past
BOYKO: Yes. So, I can`t have visitors. I can`t leave. It`s very
isolate, as you might imagine. And you can`t do most of your exercise.
You can`t go to work, you can`t visit friends, family, anything like that.
And, yes, it`s just been hard and just like what happened in New
Jersey, it wasn`t clear right away what was happening or there was a
miscommunication, I think, between the state and the local officials and
the police and everyone.
And just like what happened with New Jersey. So I was actually kept
in the hospital for a whole extra day after the hospital wanted to release
me. And during that time doctors would come shake my hand. All of the
medical staff there had no concerns about getting Ebola. In fact, they
were joking I`m the only person in new haven they could say for sure didn`t
BOYKO: But the state, of course, had different ideas.
MADDOW: As lots of other states are rolling out policies like this,
it`s been very low profile that Connecticut has pursued this policy. Very
few people knew before tonight that you were in quarantine or that your
league was in quarantine, or that indeed a handful of other people in other
states are in these mandatory quarantines. Lots of states are rolling out
new policies like this.
I guess I just have to ask you bottom line, as somebody who is
experiencing this, as somebody who is concerned about the spread of this
disease and the public health implications here, is there any reason to
think that people are more safe in Connecticut because you`re locked in
your apartment right now than if you were self-monitoring and ready to call
authorities if you showed symptoms at some point? Showed symptoms again or
if your colleague showed symptoms?
BOYKO: No. There`s no scientific evidence to suggest that people
are more safe. In fact, they are less safe because this policy makes it
harder for health care workers and others to go to West Africa. People, as
you pointed out in the start of your show, it`s a patchwork of regulations
that are constantly shifting and people don`t know what to expect when they
come back. And most of these health care workers go for about four weeks.
So, when you tack on a three-week quarantine, you`re nearly doubling
the amount of time that they have to take off work, that they have to avoid
their families and avoid the rest of their life. And for many people they
just can`t do that. And so, it`s going to result in fewer volunteers going
and more spread of the disease in West Africa, which is going to result in
more cases here.
MADDOW: Yale University PhD student Ryan Boyko quarantined for 12
days now under state orders in Connecticut despite testing negative for
Ebola, as he mentioned. He is probably the only person in Connecticut with
a sure-fire blood test guarantee that he`s negative because he`s got that
test. But nevertheless in quarantine.
Mr. Boyko, thanks for joining us tonight. I know it`s not an easy
decision to go public about these things, but I appreciate you by here.
BOYKO: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you.
We should note, I should tell you, that we asked the Connecticut
governor`s office for a statement about Mr. Boyko tonight. And they told
They told us, quote, “The protocols are not a punishment. We`re
operating out of an abundance of caution to limit any potential public
The question is whether or not it makes public health sense.
All right. Lots more ahead from here in San Francisco tonight. Just
how much local government can one of the richest corporations on earth buy
for itself? A test case coming up in just a moment.
MADDOW: If I look like I`m full of delicious Mexican food, it`s
because we`re doing the show live tonight from San Francisco. Just a short
drive from here, you will find this very nondescript-looking office park.
This building may not seem like a whole lot to look at from the outside,
but this office park, one of the suites inside this office building, is at
the center of a campaign mystery this year that is kind of amazing and that
definitely is very, very brazen. And that story is coming up next.
MADDOW: Welcome back. Coming to you tonight from San Francisco. I
love this story so much.
All right. San Francisco is here. It`s at the top of a peninsula
surrounded by water. If you head east, right across the bridge from San
Francisco toward the city of Oakland, the thing that divides the two cities
is why they people call the whole Oakland/San Francisco region the Bay
Area. There`s the bay in between the East Bay and San Francisco.
But there`s another less famous city across the bay from San
Francisco, not too far from Oakland but further up. It`s called Richmond.
And when you are in Richmond, here`s the view from Richmond back to San
Francisco. You can even see the lovely Bay Bridge off in the distance
between the hills.
But here`s what happens if you turn the camera around the other way
from that vantage point. That`s a giant Chevron oil refinery. Takes up
nearly 3,000 acres in Richmond. Processes nearly a quarter million barrels
of crude oil a day. That refinery has been in Richmond for over a century.
If you were looking in this direction about two years ago, this is
what you would have seen. The Chevron refinery on fire. In August 2012, a
corroded pipe ignited. It caused an explosion that sent a huge cloud of
black smoke across the city of Richmond. The fire stretched on for five
hours and caused ultimately more than 15,000 Richmond area residents to
seek medical treatment.
That fire in 2012 caused the city council in Richmond to sue Chevron
for damages to the city and to its residents. Since that explosion in 2012
and the suit, the city council of Richmond and Chevron have essentially
been at war with each other. But conveniently for Chevron, there is an
election one week from tomorrow where a whole bunch of seats on the
Richmond City Council are up as is the seat for Richmond`s mayor. And
Chevron has shown an extreme interest in those races to say the least.
We started reporting on this earlier this month. Chevron is now
dumping millions of dollars into those local races in little old Richmond
to try to handpick a favorable slate for the city council and their
favorite candidate for mayor.
When you drive around Richmond as we did while we were here, you can
see the evidence of Chevron`s big spending. These are the big billboards
you see around town. Pretty much everywhere you look, affixed to every
available surface. All supporting the Chevron-backed slate of candidates
for the city council.
And here`s the guy Chevron wants to be the next mayor. That`s a
giant billboard for Nat Bates. As you can see right on the billboard in
teeny tiny font, that billboard is not paid for by the Nat Bates campaign.
It is paid for by – oh, major funding by Chevron.
And it`s not just billboards. Chevron, over the last few months, has
also been overwhelming Richmond residents with all sorts of glossy mailers
promoting their favorite candidates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDITH PASTRANO, RICHMOND, CA RESIDENT: So this is a bunch of junk
mail that we`ve been receiving on a daily basis about the election that`s
TRMS PRODUCER: How many would you say you get at, like, on a daily
PASTRAMO: I want to say, like, at least five to six, maybe? This
isn`t even all of it. Like there was a good chunk that we threw away
because it was getting so ridiculous.
TRMS PRODUCER: And does it say who those are paid for?
PASTRAMO: Oh, yes, it does. They all do. It says here, paid for my
Moving Forward, major funding by Chevron, an energy provider.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: So, Chevron is spending tens of thousands of dollars filling
mail boxes all over the city of Richmond, with leaflets for their
candidates, and they`re putting up those billboards. They`re going after
the candidates they see not aligned with their interest.
That young woman you saw there going through the mailers that have
come to her home. She`s part of a coalition called Richmond Working
Families. It`s a relatively new group that formed within the last few
weeks to try to counter this huge flood of money that Chevron is pumping
into the local races in this ton.
Again, the name of the group just formed locally to try to counteract
Chevron`s influence, they decided to call themselves Richmond Working
Families. Not hard to remember but remember that, Richmond Working
Right around the same time that organization was formed to combat
Chevron`s influence in the race, Chevron formed another group to counter
Richmond Working Families, and they`ve decided to call their group Richmond
Working Families for Jobs 2014. Tada!
That`s like if the Republicans decided to run a presidential
candidate against Barack Obama, and they found a guy named Banack Obama to
run against him.
The Chevron-backed group even bought the URL
Richmondworkingfamilies.com before the anti-Chevron group was able to do
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PASTRANO: It`s funny because they use a name really similar to
Richmond Working Families and it makes me think they are trying to steal
TRMS PRODUCER: And what effect you think it has that they chose a
name basically what you guys were using?
PASTRANO: I`m pretty sure they`re trying to trick – trick everyone.
(END VIDEO CLP)
MADDOW: The Chevron-funded PAC, which is giving loads of money to
that group that`s trying to confuse people with their name and putting up
billboards all across Richmond, that PAC I should say is not actually
located in Richmond.
This is it. You`re looking at it. They are located in a nondescript
office park about 30 minutes outside of Richmond.
Again, Chevron`s favorite candidate for mayor is this guy Nat Bates.
It`s his smiling face that`s on all their billboards all across the city.
The guy he`s running against is this gentleman who has been on the Richmond
City Council for 19 years. He`s now trying to run for mayor against this
whole huge wave of Chevron money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BUTT, RICHMOND, CA MAYORAL CANDIDATE: They like to be in
complete control of their destiny, and it doesn`t sit well with them that
they have to deal with regulators, whether it`s the city of Richmond or the
state of California or the United States of America. They really want to
be above all that.
And so, investing a few million dollars in a local race is a pretty
good investment for them. I mean, I`m not sure they can invest anymore.
I`m not sure what they – if they put $10 million into this race, I don`t
know what they would – there probably aren`t – they probably couldn`t buy
any more TV ads. I know they bought all the billboards in Richmond. So,
they`ve probably maxed out on their spending here.
TRMS PRODUCER: What do they think they`ll get from your opponent
that they can`t get with you?
BUTT: They`ll get undying loyalty. They`ll get whatever they ask
for. They always have.
TRMS PRODUCER: How much money have you raised for your campaign
BUTT: I`ve raised about $40,000.
TRMS PRODUCER: So that`s a little bit less than what your opponent
has being spent on his behalf.
BUTT: Well, it`s a lot more than a little bit less. It`s a whole
different world less.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is an understatement. A candidate Chevron is trying to
defeat for mayor has raised $40,000 for his campaign so far. His opponent,
Nat Bates, has had more than $1.4 million Chevron dollars spent on his
Here`s what he told us about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAT BATES, RICHMOND, CA MAYORAL CANDIDATE: Chevron being the largest
corporation and taxpayer in the city of Richmond have engaged in protecting
their interests, I suspect. And they have selected candidates, not just
me, but others who they feel they can work with.
TRMS PRODUCER: What do you think they see in you? What do you think
they want from you in – if you were to be elected?
BATES: I think the primary thing that any company wants from their
elected official and especially from the mayor is an opportunity to open
the door and sit down and discuss with them their concerns. And I`m
committed to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Chevron`s favorite candidate for mayor, Nat Bates, has
promised the first thing he will do when he is elected, what he will do on
his first day in office is sit down with the CEO of Chevron to hear what
Chevron wants for and from Richmond.
But despite all that money being spent on his behalf by Chevron, Nat
Bates says he`ll remain completely independent from that corporation that
is funding so much of the support for his campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BATES: Chevron do not vote. They provide finances to campaign but
they do not vote. I am 83 years of old age. I am nobody`s boy. And I
will never be anybody`s boy as long as I live.
I know one thing, Chevron may be with you today and they can very
well be against you tomorrow. So, my commitment continues to be with the
people who put me in office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I should tell you, we reached out to Chevron while we were
out here. We weren`t able to interview anybody when we were there, but
tonight, they provided us a statement that reads in part, “Chevron supports
city leaders who share our commitment to policies that foster an economic
environment where businesses can thrive and create jobs.”
We also received a statement from the Chevron-funded PAC tonight
which is bankrolling all those fancy billboards. It reads in part, “This
is an important election for Richmond`s future. We believe voters deserve
to have enough information about the candidates so they can make an
informed decision about who is best able to lead Richmond.”
We`re going to post both of those statements in full on our blog
tonight. We also hope to speak with a representative from the Chevron
itself on the air, on this show, in the coming days.
But joining us now is Robert Rogers. He is a reporter for the
“Contra Costa Times”. He`s an instructor at the UC-Berkeley Graduate
School of Journalism and he is a resident of Richmond, California.
Mr. Rogers, thanks for being here.
ROBERT ROGERS, UC BERKELEY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM: Thank
you. Thank you for having me, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, you`ve covered Richmond for a lot of time. You live
there. Is this a normal Richmond election?
ROGERS: Absolutely not. What we have this time in Richmond is an
escalation of campaign spending that had already been on the way up in
previous election cycles. But this time, we have an amount that`s
And then we see a demonstration of what $3 million plus dollars can
do in a relatively small socioeconomically disadvantaged city. It can
stuff every mailbox with mailers, line every billboard – line every
boulevard with billboards, I should say – and it can also create a variety
of Web sites. It can be in your free streaming music when you`re in
It`s a very sophisticated campaign that ultimately advances Chevron`s
MADDOW: So, the candidate who is not the Chevron favorite candidate
for mayor who has the amazing name of Tom Butt, the guy with the memorable
name, you think people are going to remember his name when they get there.
That`s some sort of advantage.
When he says essentially they`ve bought every billboard in Richmond,
like there`s – even if I had more money to spend, I don`t know what I`d
spend it on because they`ve essentially closed out anybody else from
participating in political communication here. They`ve eaten up all the
Is there an element of truth to that, or is that hyperbole?
ROGERS: There`s an element of truth to that certainly. Chevron has
been able to dominate the conversation and particularly dominate with low
information voters, folks who live in Richmond`s more socioeconomically
disadvantaged communities that perhaps are not abreast of all of the
political issues that are at work in Richmond. They are going to see
Chevron`s billboards, Chevron`s fliers and Chevron`s favored candidates and
they`re going to see them every day.
ROGERS: That has value.
MADDOW: There`s some speculation and I`m really looking forward to
talking to Chevron about this. I hope we get to do that.
But there`s some speculation that it may not be just that they want
the best economic environment for all business in Richmond, that this may
specifically be about this pending lawsuit against them. That they may
want the city council to settle and a friendlier city council might do
Is there any reportable truth to that? Is there any – obviously,
that`s the suspicion – is there any way to get at that?
ROGERS: There is the speculation. It is plausible.
The truth is that Chevron has a lawsuit pending against it by the
city of Richmond for the first time in its history. The city sued Chevron
in the aftermath of the 2012 fire and they retained a formidable law firm,
one that sued PG&E in the past over a gas line.
And so they picked up some real take dog attorneys and that is a very
real possibility of potentially a settlement in the tens or hundreds of
millions of dollars.
So, if that lawsuit were to be stopped in its tracks, it could
conceivably save the corporation a tremendous amount of money.
MADDOW: Which makes a few million spent on these municipal elections
in Richmond seem like a real bargain if that`s what you get for the price.
Robert Rogers, reporter for “The Contra Costa Times”, instructor at
UC-Berkeley Grad School of Journalism, thanks for being here. I appreciate
ROGERS: Good to be with you. Thank you.
MADDOW: Nice to see you.
All right. Still ahead – a much-needed best new thing in the world.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Programming note. In just a few minutes I`m going to be
racing out of our studio in San Francisco and going to the airport for a
flight to Denver, Colorado. Tomorrow marks one week exactly until Election
Day. And Colorado has one of the premier Senate races and a governor`s
race that`s been absolutely off the hook.
So, if you are going to be in Denver, Colorado, tomorrow night, there
are details at maddowblog.com about where we`re going to be. That`s
tomorrow night live from Denver.
Programming note over: best new thing in the world, next.
MADDOW: OK. Best new thing in the world.
I`m out of my hometown San Francisco tonight, which is gripped with
World Series fever.
But consider the ceremonial first pitch. Officially, it`s an honor
to be asked to throw out the first pitch at a Major League game.
Presidents, movie stars, musicians. It`s a real honor to be asked.
And for those who get asked, it`s a chance to live out the fantasy of
feeling like a real live ball player. But they`re not real live ball
players and usually it shows.
A Major League pitching mound is more than 60 feet from home plate.
It`s a really long way to throw. The pitcher`s mound is also higher than
it looks, almost a foot off the ground.
So, when the Major League player throws down off that mountain it`s
like flinging yourself down a hill toward the batter while you were
simultaneously throwing as hard as you can.
Regular people just don`t come across anything like that in normal
life. So, ceremonial first pitches by normal people are almost always a
disaster, right? There`s the crowd, the adrenaline, the distance, the
height of the mound, the pressure (INAUDIBLE) embarrassing. It almost
always adds up to embarrassing.
Even if you are like a big strong rapper named 50 Cent, right? He
threw the ball directly sideways earlier this year.
A young singer named Carly Ray Jepson, she forgot to let go of though
ball and had it land approximately three feet in front of her feet.
Even President Obama who`s a pretty athletic guy, as presidents go,
President Obama flung one way high and way wide at a Nationals game and he
– oh, God. “Washington Post” put together a chart showing the location of
some of these famous first pitches. President Clinton and President Bush
do OK actually as does Snoop Dogg and Supreme Court Justice Sonia
But look at this one. Nolan Ryan, one of the greatest pitchers of
all time. What`s going on there? Look at this one, Michael Jordan –
Michael Jordan, really? If you have a choice against playing basketball or
baseball against him, you know what to do, right?
So that`s the disappointing world of mortals. Even famous and
talented mortals when it comes to ceremonial first pitches.
And then there`s what happened this weekend. So, it`s Saturday
night. I`m at my parent`s house. Mom`s making dinner. Dad`s got his
Giants gear on.
Game is on. Game four ceremonial first pitch. We all think, God,
this is going to be horrible. Sort of half listening, not really paying
attention. Apparently, they`ve got some 13-year-old kid who is going to do
the first pitch. Oh, this is going to be terrible. Should have listened
closer to who it was.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Pressure? What pressure? No big deal.
Didn`t stand in front of the mound on the grass like everybody else.
Took the actual mound. Fired away from full pro-distance. Took in the
full capacity roaring World Series crowd. Threw an effortless hard strike
right over the plate.
Fist bump. Done. Nonchalant. Flawless.
Should have paid attention to who it was and I would have known it
was coming. Mo`ne Davis. The girl pitcher for the Philadelphia boys` team
who became a nationwide sensation after her performance at the Little
League World Series this year, striking out batter after batter after
I should have known she`d be the only mortal alive to nail a
ceremonial first pitch like that at the World Series. Nerves of steel.
She will not even be allowed to drive for three more years. Come on.
Best new thing in the world today, by 60 1/2 feet, right for the
plate. Best new thing in the world.
That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you tomorrow from Colorado
where we have a big show lined up.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.