Jessica Flores

Jessica FloresJessica Flores is a multimedia journalist pursuing her Broadcast Journalism M.A. from the University of Southern California, where she was awarded the Annenberg fellowship to fully fund her degree. She is the executive producer of USC's award-winning Annenberg Radio News. During her graduate career, she was selected among journalism students nationwide to report with the New York Times in Arizona and she gained an internship with CBS News in London. At CBS she hit the ground running, conducting on-camera interviews for the Early Show and Evening News. Previously, she spent two years working for Google and takes her expertise in online optimization and search trends to the transforming journalism landscape. Flores graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Communication in 2007. While in college, she interned for CNN-Washington and worked for NBC-San Jose. She has been honored with a California Chicano News Media Association Scholarship, and was part of news teams awarded by the Society of Professional Journalists and LA Press Club.

Recent stories by Jessica Flores

Earmark Ban Makes Congressional Pork Hard to Track

Pork belly is still on the menu. (FotoosVanRobin/Flickr)Earlier this year House Republicans made good on their promise to ban earmarking, a practice which in many ways has become shorthand for wasteful government spending and shady politics.

"An earmark moratorium shows that elected officials are serious about restoring trust between the American people and those who are elected to represent them," House Speaker John Boehner said at the time.

Denied the use of their time-honored negotiating tool, however, legislators are beginning to exploit a loophole in the ban by turning to a far more obscure strategy to seek funding for their constituencies, one that is appropriately being referred to as "phonemarking."

Growers Ready To Battle High-Speed Rail

Fearing California's proposed high-speed train service could cut through farmland, devalue property and undercut a $36 billion industry, Big Agriculture may be gearing up to derail the first phase of construction before plans are even finalized.

It's not a full-fledged fight just yet, but it's shaping up to be. On one side are the growers, backed by the powerful Ag industry and armed with lobbyists. On the other is the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is responsible for the project and has already begun aligning itself with the contractors, cities and unions that stand to benefit.

"There will be lawsuits," said almond grower Keith Gardiner, who owns 3,300 acres of land in Wasco that sits directly in the path of one of the proposed routes. "If backed into a corner, yeah, we are going to come out swinging."

Oil-Backed Republicans Seek Repeal of EPA CO2 Rules

(danielfoster437/Flickr)

Members of Congress argued Monday afternoon for an amendment that would block the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases, a key priority for the agency under administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

At a markup hearing for the Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican members said repealing the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases would bolster the economy. What they didn't mention was that the policy would also benefit the energy and natural resources sector, which makes up more than $3 million, or about 15 percent, of the collective contributions received by the 31 Republicans on the committee last year.

"This bill says 'stop' to an EPA attempting to impose policies we cannot afford that will destroy jobs we cannot afford to lose," said Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, who proposed the bill.

Dough Rising In L.A. City Council Races

So far more than $500,000 in independent money has been spent on Los Angeles City Council races, the City Ethics Commission announced Wednesday.

The vast majority of those independent expenditures — money spent by outside groups on radio, TV, and print ads to support or oppose candidates — is being funneled into the 8th District race between incumbent Bernard Parks and union-backed Forescee Hogan-Rowles.

In 2007 the 8th District race received less than $2000 in outside money, all of which went to support Parks. With almost three weeks still to go, the same district has already pulled in more than $446,000 — more than a 22,000 percent increase.

California Freshman Congressman's Lobbyist Ties

U.S. Representative Jeff Denham, R-Calif.

Even before Jeff Denham was sworn into Congress in January with a promise to "stand up for the community," California's only Republican freshman U.S. representative began surrounding himself with former and current lobbyists from big money political campaigns.

Just after Denham was elected to Congress from California's 19th district in November, he created JEFF PAC and America's New Majority. The creation of JEFF PAC makes him one of only two freshman members of Congress to have already formed a leadership political action committee, or PAC, an organization used to raise money for election campaigns.

Federal Election Commission filings for the two PACs show they have already received contributions from interests that often lobby the very congressional committees Denham sits on — Natural Resources, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Veterans' Affairs.