Karen Bass

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Karen Bass

Hon. Karen Bass is the socialist affiliated U.S. Representative for California's 37th congressional district, winning election in November 2010. She replaced retiring rep. Diane Watson. She has been selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus. Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, appointed Bass to serve as an Assistant Whip.

Bass, who had one daughter, Emilia Bass-Lechuga, son-in law Michael Wright and four step children.[1]

Early life

Bass grew up with three brothers in the Venice/Fairfax area of Los Angeles. She is the only daughter of DeWitt Bass and Wilhelmina Bass. Bass graduated from Hamilton High School, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and the University of Southern California School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program.

Bass also worked for nearly a decade as a Physician Assistant and served as a Clinical Instructor at the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program.[2]

White leftist influence

Many of Karen Bass' early influences were from West Los Angeles white and Jewish leftist circles;

It (the white left) played a huge role for me. In Hamilton (High School) for instance, lots of the Jewish parents were activists. Some of them were in the Communist Party. So I grew up with a lot of red diaper babies. And there were some African American parents who were in the Communist Party. There were teachers who were in the Communist Party. So white radicals were very influential. And at the same time you have the Panthers and the whole Black movement.[3]

Black Panther Party

Karen Bass was a member of the Black Panther Party.[4]

Los Angeles Mayoral Campaign

Karen Bass supporters

Karen Bass took part in a video conference titled "Asian American Leaders Support Karen Bass for Mayor" posted on Karen Bass' Facebook page on May 22 2022.[5] Participants included Jenny Delwood, Jaime Geaga, John Kim, Ted Lieu, Judy Chu, and Karen Bass.

Maxine Waters connection

In the late '80s/early '90s Karen Bass became involved with the Free South Africa Movement where she met and worked with Maxine Waters [6]

San Diego days


Early activism

Bass says that from a young age she was drawn to addressing injustice in all its forms and standing up for what she believes. As early as high school she was volunteering on political campaigns, following the Civil Rights Movement, and protesting the Vietnam War.

During the early 1970s the new San Diego State college student continued to volunteer her time and efforts to causes important to her. Bass returned to southern California before completing her degree in philosophy, and instead sought a career that afforded her time to devote to her political activism and, equally as important, one that also aligned with her values system. It turned out that an interest in health care, which came from caring for her diabetic mother, was a good fit.

“It’s that set of values that led me to a profession that would help people. That’s the same set of values that led me to be an activist,” she said. “So the passion that underlines whether I’m working in a hospital or whether I’m attending meetings, it’s the same drive.”

She became a nurse and ultimately a physician’s assistant (PA). It was while a practicing PA and teaching clinical courses in the PA program at the University of Southern California in the late 1980s that she decided to return to school to complete her bachelor’s degree. She chose CSU Dominguez Hills because it had just developed a bachelor’s in health science with a physician’s assistant option in collaboration with USC.

Bass recalls one professor who really had an impact on her, Erma Wells, former chair of the Division of Health Science.

“I worked with her, not only as a professor, but also as an administrator,” she said, explaining that after she finished her degree she taught briefly in the program and Wells had been a mentor to her in both aspects. “She recently passed away, and I wanted to acknowledge that she played an incredible role in my education.”

When Bass graduated from CSU Dominguez Hills in 1990, it was also the year her career and her activism took a new direction. Crack use among the low-income African American communities in Los Angeles was reaching epidemic proportions, and Bass saw too many people affected by it coming through the emergency room.

“A good percentage of what comes in [to the ER], it’s either fights or accidents, domestic violence, but all those, if you look at the root of them, there’s drugs or alcohol,” she said. “So when the crack cocaine epidemic hit that led me to want to figure out how to address it, and so I started Community Coalition. It wound up being a new profession for me.”[7]

Cuba, communists, Venceremos Brigade


In a May 5 2005 exchange on Yahoo group Atzlannet, Los Angeles Communist Party USA organizer Rosalio Munoz revealed his own early connection to Karen Bass, and the of another communist Leroy Parra. He revealed that communists had indeed been [part of Bass's movement, and that she had been a member of the Venceremos Brigade, whose members traveled to Cuba to do agricultural work in support of the Cuban revolution.[8]

Re-opening embassy in Cuba

August 14 2015 Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) released the following statement after joining U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other members of Congress for the official re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba.

“Today I was proud to join Secretary Kerry for the re-opening of the U.S. Embassy here in Cuba. This marks the beginning of a new chapter in U.S.-Cuba relations that leaves the Cold War behind and embraces the power of diplomacy.

“As a witness to this historic step for our two nations, I urge my fellow members of Congress to put politics aside and seize this moment. We should lift the trade embargo with Cuba and build on the progress made here today.

“Normal relations provide us with greater prospects to engage directly with a diverse range of Cuban society. Together, we can create new opportunities for American businesses, increase travel and exchanges, and support efforts in Cuba to advance political and economic reforms and promote human rights.

“I want to thank President Obama and Secretary Kerry for their leadership to help make today possible.

“Today, the U.S. and Cuba are united in saying we are ready to create a better future for our countries and our people. Now is the time for Congress to lead.”

Congressman McGovern has been a leading champion in the push to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations. In December 2014, when President Obama first announced the new U.S.-Cuba policy, Congressman McGovern joined Secretary Kerry to welcome home Alan Gross, the American aid worker who was released from Cuba the same day.

Joining Congressman McGovern for the U.S. embassy opening in Cuba today were Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Karen Bass (D-CA).[9]

History with Cuba

After Karen Bass graduated high school, a classmate who had traveled to Cuba with the first Venceremos Brigade connected her with the program, and she decided to go. She was 19 the first time she landed in Havana, in 1973. She remembers spending her time in Cuba building houses—work she compared to that of Habitat for Humanity.


“We built houses during the day,” Bass said, “and then we had what they called cultural activities and we called parties. There was great music, rum, dancing. And we toured the country.” Going to Cuba was a way to meet other young activists, Bass told me. “Obviously, there were Cubans there doing construction work,” she said. “But it was an opportunity for all of the various activists to get together.” She wasn’t the only future politician to join the Venceremos Brigade: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a longtime friend of hers, also went.

Bass went to see Castro speak in Revolution Square in Havana, joining “about a bazillion people” in the crowd, she said. Although she couldn’t understand him, he was “extremely charismatic.” She said she was aware then that Cuba under Castro wasn’t the utopia that some of her friends believed it to be. “I know that the crowds cheered, but I have no idea what they were cheering about—and I’m not sure if they didn’t cheer, that wouldn’t have been a problem,” she said. That was the contrast she saw between American activists and Cubans at the time. “I didn’t have any illusions that the people in Cuba had the same freedoms I did. I came home and was protesting everything; I knew that the Cuban people didn’t have the ability to do that.” She didn’t buy the Cuban government’s propaganda, she insisted. I asked whether she knew any American activists who had gotten involved in espionage or violence, and she was firm in her response: “Let me say: Hell no. No, I did not know anybody like that.”

Jeff Schatz, who met Bass on that first trip to Cuba and remains a friend, told me that he remembered her mediating between American volunteers who were getting on each other’s nerves. “She just got in there and worked to say ‘Hey, we’re out here to learn stuff. We’re out here to work and work together,” said Schatz, who added that he fell in love with the construction work he did in Cuba and decided to make a career of it. He now runs a business that specializes in building luxury homes in Malibu.

Two years after Bass’s first trip, the head of the Dade County, Florida, bomb squad testified to the Senate Internal Security Committee that interrogations of members of violent organizations in America had led his group to the Venceremos Brigade. In 1977, the FBI produced a report alleging that some members of the Venceremos Brigade received weapons training. Bass told me she has always rejected violence, and didn’t associate with any militant groups.

Bass returned to Cuba without the Brigade in the years that followed, and saw Castro speak several times. She never met him, she said. She was there eight times in the 1970s, and has been back about as many times since. That’s good evidence that she didn’t lead her life focused on building a résumé or trying to rise in politics, she argued. She never hid her association with the Brigade—she gave a “Contemporary Cuban Society” lecture on Valentine’s Day 1977 at UC Santa Barbara (tickets were $1 at the door), for which she was identified as part of the group.

The American government’s interest in the Venceremos Brigade continued for years. In 1982, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing featuring a former member of Cuban intelligence who had defected to the United States. He testified that Cuban intelligence had connected with members of the Brigade while they were in the country, and that some Americans had become sources for the Cubans. Bass says she wasn’t involved in anything like that, either.

But Bass was well enough known as a community activist, with a focus on protesting police brutality, that the local government tried to come after her because of her connections to the organization. In 1983, L.A. police chief Daryl Gates tried to link Bass to a gun-running operation, using police reports that said Bass had “returned from Cuba bringing back propaganda literature.” She told police that she had not received any military training while in Cuba, and told me that the police had fixated on her learning to use a gun for target practice during a Brigade camping trip outside L.A. “I’m angry and I’m shocked that they would use [this allegation] to try to attempt to smear me personally and the brigade,” she told the Associated Press at the time. Bass later learned that the person who taught her to use a gun during that camping trip was an undercover police officer. Looking back, she called her questioning by police “absolutely absurd,” telling me, “I never, ever, ever came near a gun in Cuba, period. Never. And frankly, I think if any of that had been true, they would have brought us all in jail.”

Bass’s interest in Cuba kept up after she became a member of the California assembly. She went to the country again in 2005, on a trip organized by the California lobbyist Darius Anderson and paid for out of her campaign account, according to campaign-finance records kept by the California secretary of state. She’s returned several times since being elected to the U.S. House in 2010. She visited Alan Gross, the USAID contractor whom Cuba accused of being a spy, during his five years in prison, and joined then–Secretary of State John Kerry when he went to Havana to raise the American flag over the reestablished U.S. embassy in 2015. President Barack Obama invited Bass—by then a key supporter of normalizing relations with Cuba—to join the presidential delegation during his historic trip in 2016. From there, she tweeted a sepia-toned photo of herself from her Venceremos Brigade trip, in sunglasses with a bandanna on her head.

Cuba has been the main issue that people who don’t want Biden to pick Bass have focused on, mostly because of a statement she made after Castro died in 2016, when she referred to him as “comandante en jefe,” which she says was a poor attempt to translate commander in chief. In Cuba, this was a phrase Castro’s government often used to praise him. When I spoke with her in early July about that statement, she told me that she somehow hadn’t fully realized how Cuba and Castro were seen in Florida, as opposed to California. She told me last week that she’s since reached out to congressional colleagues from Florida, and to Cuban American leaders, to further her understanding of the issue.[10]

Backing Isaac Bryan

In his 2021 54th Assembly District race Isaac Bryan boasts proud support from Rep. Karen Bass and the Assemblymember he would be replacing, Sydney Kamlager. In addition, four L.A. City Council members, County Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Holly Mitchell and Culver City Mayor Alex Fisch, the California Teachers Association, SEIU California, and two other unions, BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors and a host of others.

Our Revolution endorsement 2020

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Peace Action

Peace Action endorsed Karen Bass in the 2018 election cycle.[11]

Line of March connections

Karen Bass was heavily involved with the Maoist Line of March.

Call for Conference on Racism and National Oppression


Call for a Conference on Racism and National Oppression was a 1980 call by Marxist-Leninists of The Trend, most of whom were Line of March activists, for a national conference on "Racism and National Oppression" to be held in the summer of 1981 in New York or the Bay Area.

Signers from Los Angeles were;



In a circa 1980 report Karen Bass was named as one of the "forces working directly under the guidance of the rectification line/unity with line", of what would become Los Angeles Line of March.

Others in that category were Alfred Herredia, Maribel Saloman, Gregg Santillan, Alan Constantino, David Kimbrough, Adele Wallace.

Grassroots Fundraiser to elect Karen Bass to Congress

Friday, May 28, 2010 359 S. Westmoreland, Los Angeles, CA;

Help Elect Assembly Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass to Congress. Come join us in an afternoon of music, food and lively discussions on how we can help send Karen Bass to Washington, D.C. This is a grassroots fundraiser - everyone is welcome.

Host Committee: Gerry Villero & Ani Villero, Florante Ibanez & Rose Ibanez, David Kimbrough & Carol Ojeda-Kimbrough, Martha Matsuoka, Khader Hamide, and Robin Potash.

Sponsors: Rosa Arcadia, Prosy DelaCruz, Paul Estuar, Rachel Cometa Estuar, Lee Lipinski, Adrienne Hament, John Mina, Cecile Ochoa, Grace Yao, Dr. Anthony Saidy, and Thomas Szymanek.

AAPIs for Karen Bass Fundraiser

Friday, May 07, 2010, Central American Resource Center (CARECEN), Los Angeles, CA 90005;

Help Send Karen To Congress! She's fought for our communities for over three decades, first as an community organizer and activist in South Los Angeles and then as a California Assemblywoman and the first African American woman Speaker of a State Legislature. Help make sure that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, other communities of color and working people in California will have a strong progressive voice in Washington. Join AAPI progressives, community organizers, labor activists and friends for a night with Karen.

APIs FOR KAREN HOST COMMITTEE: (Organizational affiliation for identification purposes only) Jung Hee Choi (Community Coalition), John Delloro (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance -- National), Joanne Kim (Community Coalition), Martha Matsuoka, Danny Park (KIWA), Raahi Reddy (SEIU 721).[12]

Old comrades


Bob Wing, December 20, 2014;

CoCo Gala Dinner — with Gerald Lenoir, Karen Bass and Aurea Montes-Rodriguez in Los Angeles, California.

Cannon connection

As a member of the Communist Party USA, Oneil Cannon became the education director in the Southern California District, and a member of the Party’s Southern California and National Central Committees.

Cannon was committed to electing Black and Latino representatives at all levels of government. He helped to elect Augustus Hawkins, Tom Bradley, Ed Roybal, Diane Watson, Maxine Waters, and Karen Bass.

Cannon campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008, and wept with joy along with millions of others when he was elected. He died peacefully, wearing one of his Obama T-shirts.[13]

Communist mentor



Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to honor the life and memory of my friend and mentor, Oneil Marion Cannon, who passed away on January 20, days before his 100th birthday....

Oneil was instrumental in supporting my own work as a community organizer early in my life, and without his help my life would have taken a very different path...
I would like to salute Oneil Cannon for his longstanding commitment to serving and uplifting others, and for a century of fighting to make the world a better place.

Black-Korean Alliance

The first time Bong Hwan Kim met Karen Bass, they sat across the table from one another at Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles at Manchester and Main in South-Central Los Angeles. It was January, 1992, more than two months before the riots.

Bass, executive director of the Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment, was getting ready to launch a campaign against 15 liquor stores in South-Central, at least 10 of them Asian-owned. She had heard that Kim, director of the Korean Youth and Community Center, was something of a renegade--independent from his Korean-born elders, who were determined to fend off any effort to infringe on the autonomy of the liquor-store owners. By agreeing to work together, the pair were neutralizing the liquor stores as a racial issue. to blur.

By the first week of May, however, they confronted more than the question of 15 problem stores. Some 200 South-Central businesses selling fortified wine and malt liquor burned to the ground in the aftermath of the Rodney King trial. As the fires raged, Bass and Kim talked by phone. Bass knew the neighborhood would fight the reopening of the liquor stores, and, again, she needed an ally in the Korean community. For Kim, the issue had become more troublesome. Korean-American liquor-store owners had been targeted, and they needed to be compensated. Bass agreed.

The informal alliance between Bass and Kim is an example of what is happening on a small but significant scale across ethnic Los Angeles. A few African-, Asian- and Latino-American leaders are declining to use the race card with one another or with the white minority. Divisive notions like "the new majority" send them into philosophical contortions. "It makes us sound like we're going to be the new oppressors; we want to do something different--to change the paradigm of social interaction," says Arturo Vargas, vice president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and a fellow consensus builder.

Brick by brick, leaders like Bass, Kim and Vargas are knocking down the walls that separate their communities. They get guidance, friendship and mentoring from others such as Ron Wakabayashi, the newly named executive director for the county's Human Relations Commission; Joe Hicks, the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles, and Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.[14]

UOC connection


Karen Bass was interviewed about the LA riots in the Unity Organizing Committee's Unity of June 1992.

Thigpenn connection

Karen Bass is very close to radical activist Anthony Thigpenn;


Rudy Acuna has known Karen Bass, for about 30 years.

I remember Karen in the early '70s as a teenager working as part of a coalition of Blacks, Latinos and Asians. When so-called leaders such as myself represented our own group interests, Karen sought to work for solutions to "community" problems. Bass and her long-time partner Anthony Thigpenn have been organic forces among the poor of the district. [15]

Venceremos/Jobs with Peace

In the 1980s Karen Bass' work with the Venceremos Brigade and Jobs with Peace brought her in contact with activists Gil Cedillo, Anthony Thigpenn, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Antonio Villaraigosa , who were working in the progressive "Black/Brown" movement and were part of Jobs with Peace.[16]

Electoral help

Anthony Thigpenn ran successful field campaigns for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Karen Bass, State Senator Kevin de Leon, and former City Councilmember Martin Ludlow, among others.[17]

Thigpenn's SCOPE played a major role in electing Karen Bass to the California State Assembly.[18]

Endorsed Villaraigosa

Also endorsing Antonio Villaraigosa's 2001 mayoralty bid were Bill Burke, the founder and president of the Los Angeles Marathon; Cynthia McClain-Hill, a member of the California Coastal Commission; Turning Point magazine executive Patricia Means and community organizers including Anthony Thigpenn and Karen Bass.[19]

SCOPE 20th Anniversary

“When we started AGENDA back in 1993, we characterized it as an experiment. Because we kind of knew where we wanted to go, but how to get there was less clear to us. This is still true today as we continue to build the movement for social justice.”

These are the words of Anthony Thigpenn, founder of SCOPE, and one of our respected honorees at a March 2014 celebration of SCOPE’s 20th anniversary. In his address to a room of over 300 allies and friends, Anthony reminded us that we didn’t have all of the answers when we first came together. But for SCOPE, “having the answers” was never the driving force behind our vision for change. Instead, we set out to empower the residents of our community to think for themselves, to design their own solutions, and to speak out on issues that affect the quality of their lives. Our founders believed that our community had the answers to the problems plaguing South LA—and from looking around the room last Thursday, it’s clear that they were right.

Attendees included Manuel Chavez, Gloria Walton, Lynette Steele, Patricia Livingston, Clementina Lopez, Latrece Jackson, Sherri Wallace, Anthony Thigpenn, Jennifer Speck, Chante Harriel, Maria Virginia Otero, Mari Mercado, and Juan Canto, Congress member Karen Bass, Shay Salter, Chris Nixon, Kevin de Leon, Antonio Villaraigosa, Manuel Pastor, Soloman Rivera, Manuel Hernandez, Veronica Carrizales and Maria Elena Durazo.

Many of SCOPE's members standing alongside activists, community organizers, elected officials, union leaders, academics, and educators attended. Proof that South LA’s progressive community is strong, thriving and growing.

The meeting honored Gerry Hudson, Paula Litt and Barry Litt and Anthony Thigpenn.[20]

Mentored by Watson

Diane Watson won her first election as black political power in Los Angeles was on the ascent, and successive generations have called her a mentor, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Karen Bass and newly seated Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), whose first job was in Watson's state Senate office.[21]

Villaraigosa connection


Changing LA

Before her life in office, Karen Bass started her political organizing as a middle school student when she signed up to be a precinct captain for Robert Kennedy in 1968. In 1990, Bass founded and ran Community Coalition, a community-based social justice organization in South Los Angeles to empower residents to get involved in making a difference. In addition to her 14 years as Executive Director for Community Coalition, Bass has a long history as an activist, creating change on both a local and international level.[22]

The daughter of a mail carrier, and a product of public schools, Bass began organizing as a teenager. In college, she was active in the antiwar movement. While working as a nurse and a physicians assistant, and raising her daughter, she continued her political activism as a volunteer.

As many of its factories closed in the 1980s, South LA was hit hard by the loss of decent-paying blue-collar jobs. Unemployment and hopelessness created a vacuum, filled in part by the crack cocaine epidemic and the increasing role of gangs as a way for young people to gain status and income. The community experienced a spiral of drug dealing, violent crime, prostitution and crack houses. Bass's job in the emergency room at LA County's USC Hospital--the nation's largest trauma center--gave her a close-up view of how the epidemic was destroying the lives of many young men, women and children and undermining the social fabric of inner city neighborhoods. In 1990, she founded Community Coalition to find a humane alternative to the "war on drugs"--one of the nation's first grassroots organizations to deal with this problem,

"I wanted to see if I could shift the policy agenda away from law enforcement toward a public health and economic response," she explained. "I thought it was a health and economic issue."[23]

Community Coalition

Under Bass's leadership, the Community Coalition took on other pressing issues, always reaching out to other community groups, churches, labor unions, social service agencies, employers and elected officials to enlarge the circle of collaborative partners. After the 1992 riots, Bass also worked to encourage local foundations, the United Way, businesses and community leaders to invest in grassroots organizing to strengthen community-based groups. As a result, Los Angeles is now ground-zero for successful community organizing around economic and social justice issues.

As a strong executive director, Bass left the Community Coalition on a solid financial footing and with a new generation of community leaders that she'd trained to run the organization. During her tenure, the group's budget increase from slightly over $300,000 to about $3 million, secured from government agencies and more than fifteen private foundations. In her last year, the Community Coalition had about thirty staff members. [24]

Castillo connection

Sylvia Castillo, Program Director of the Praxis Project, was for the last 20 years District Director to the Congress member Karen Bass and former California Assembly Speaker and by being a founding leader of the Community Coalition, a community institution that involves thousands of grassroots activists to create, influence and change public policy.[25]

Southern Africa Support Committee

1980s SASC leaflet

In the 1980s Karen Bass was a leader of the radical Southern Africa Support Committee.

Memorial to Joe Slovo


In April 1995 Karen Bass Community Coalition, Carol Wells Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Wendell Collins Greater Los Angeles Committees of Correspondence supported a memorial for late South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo.

California Assembly

A colorful mosaic of activist groups--among them LA Voice, the Coalition for Economic Survival, Los Angeles Community Action Network, One LA, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, ACORN, the Southern California Association for NonProfit Housing, East Los Angeles Community Coalition, POWER (People Organized for Westside Renewal), Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, SAJE (Strategic Actions for a Just Economy), Esperanza Community Housing, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Coalition LA, South Asian Network, Progressive Jewish Alliance and AGENDA--have forged effective coalitions across racial, economic and geographic boundaries that have improved housing, education, environmental and economic conditions in LA, a city of 4 million people.

One of the byproducts of this growing network has been the election of many LA grassroots activists to public office in City Hall, the state legislature and Congress. Bass had long worked to catapult other community leaders into public office. After years of resisting, Bass was persuaded by a diverse group of supporters to run for the state Assembly. After thirteen years leading the Community Coalition, she was elected in 2004 to represent an economically varied and ethnically polyglot district that has significant numbers of African-Americans, Latinos, Jews, Koreans and Ethiopians. Once she arrived in Sacramento, she was quickly recruited to serve as majority whip, then majority floor leader and was elevated to Speaker by her colleagues in 2008. [26]

A lifelong resident of Los Angeles, Bass was elected to the CA State legislature in 2005 to represent Culver City, West Los Angeles, Westwood, Cheviot Hills, Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, the Crenshaw District, Little Ethiopia and portions of Korea Town and South Los Angeles and the United State Congress representing Culver City, Hollywood, Ladera Heights, Silverlake, Los Feliz, Jefferson Park and Windsor Hills.

Karen Bass made history when the California Assembly elected her to be its 67th Speaker, catapulting her to become the first African American woman in the country to serve in this powerful state legislative role.

While Speaker, Bass delivered change and results to her constituents in Los Angeles and the people of California by jumpstarting infrastructure projects to create new jobs in the state. Bass has also championed efforts to provide quality healthcare to Californians and expand opportunities for California’s youth.

Under Bass’ leadership the Assembly fast-tracked federal economic stimulus legislation that aided Californians who have been affected by the national economic crisis as well as jumpstarted billions of dollars of infrastructure projects.

Former Speaker Bass has proudly authored legislation that expands Healthy Families Insurance coverage to prevent children from going without health care. Bass’s legislation also included bills to reform schools and improve conditions and services for youth. Bass has successfully passed legislation that reduces dropouts by expanding multiple pathways in high school to prepare students for college, career and civic responsibility. Another piece of legislation Bass authored provided LA Unified School District with access to over $600 million in additional school funds.[27]

DSA connections

PDA 2020 endorsement

In 2020 Progressive Democrats of America endorsed Karen Bass's congressional run.[28]

Gang violence article


In October 1988 Karen Bass contributed an article to Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America's Los Angeles Left, on countering gang violence.

Gang violence forum


She participated in a related Democratic Socialists of America forum, with community activist James Simmons.

DSA pressure on Yemen Bill


IE DSA - Inland Empire Democratic Socialists of America July 8 2019.

URGENT: Tomorrow, Tuesday 7/9, the House Rules Committee will consider whether to allow a floor vote on Rep. Ro Khanna's legislation to end US participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen (Amendment 339 to the National Defense Authorization Act.) The DSA International Committee urges members to call their reps in support.

The Congressional switchboard is 202-225-3121. You can say something like:

“I urge you to co-sponsor, speak out for and vote for the Khanna-Schiff amendment to end all U.S. participation in the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen. Yemeni kids' lives are hanging on your vote.”

Key Congress members — If your Rep is on this list, please contact them immediately and urge them to cosponsor Amendment 339:

Pelosi, Hoyer, Engel, Smith, Lieu, Nadler, Lowey, Jim Himes, Ted Deutch, Brad Sherman, Meeks, Bass, Connolly, Susan Davis, Jim McGovern, Langevin, Moulton, Gallego, Houlahan, Cicilline, Slotkin, Mikie Sherrill, Luria, Spanberger, Wild, Malinowski.

Parke Skelton support

According to Harold Meyerson of LA Weekly, it was "L.A.’s liberal operatives who helped put Villaraigosa over the top". Antonio Villaraigosa’s 2005 Mayoral victory is the crowning achievement in the career of Parke Skelton, possibly the most principled political consultant in the business, who has steered to elected office virtually every liberal pol in greater L.A. — among them, Hilda Solis, Eric Garcetti, Jackie Goldberg, Sheila Kuehl, Karen Bass and Martin Ludlow.[29]

Cuban connection

Humanitarian Needs in Cuba letter

December 16 2021 , House Rules Committee Chair James McGovern (D-MA), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Gregory Meeks (D-NY), House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Chair Barbara Lee (D-CA), and House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Energy Chair Bobby Rush (D-IL) led 114 Members of Congress in a letter to President Biden asking him to prioritize the well-being of the Cuban people as they experience the worst economic and humanitarian crisis in recent history...

In the wake of this year’s protests, the members urged the administration to support the Cuban people by suspending U.S. regulations that prevent food, medicine, remittances, and other humanitarian assistance from reaching the Cuban people...

Signatories included Karen Bass.[30]

Cuba 1989


On May 19, 1989 Karen Bass discussed her recent trip to Cuba on "Voices of the Left: A Socialist Perspective", a Democratic Socialists of America radio show on KPFK 90.7 FM. It was advertised in Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America's Los Angeles Left, May 1989, page 2.

Second trip

At a Santa Monica town hall meeting, July 2014, Bass admitted she had traveled to Cuba, both before and since being in Congress, and was for “normalizing relations with Cuba”.[31]

Donna Brazile, Karen Bass, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Jane Harman
Donna Brazile, Karen Bass, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Jane HarmanCuban Foreign Ministry, June 6, 2011

Karen Bass traveled to Havana, Cuba on June 5, 2011, accompanied by Donna Brazile, former Congresswoman Jane Harman, and Sara Stephens of the Center for Democracy in the Americas, in a "Women's Leadership Delegation". The trip was paid for ($2915 for Bass) by the Center for Democracy in the Americas.

The delegates participating in the Cuba fact-finding trip, attended meetings with Cuban academics, policymakers, journalists and NGO representatives, and toured various sites.[32]

Congressmen to Cuba

Dec. 12-Dec. 16, 2014 Reps Michael Burgess (R-TX), Karen Bass, Danny Davis, Diana DeGette, Robin Kelly, Barbara Lee, and Charles Rangel, were part of a group trip to Havana, Cuba sponsored by Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba . "Attended meetings with government officials, health care workers and providers and members of civil society".[33]

Cuban Embassy soiree

It was remarkable how many non-Cubans knew the Cuban national anthem well enough to sing along July 2015 as the flag was raised over the newly re-established embassy on 16th Street NW. Then they joined in the delirious shouts of "Viva Cuba!"

"It's an amazing moment," said Phyllis Bennis, a fellow with the progressive think-tank, Institute for Policy Studies. "In the decades-long effort to normalise relations with Cuba, to stop the US attacks and hostility toward Cuba, we have not had so many victories. Suddenly we have a victory. The flag going up - that's huge."

“Hemingway would be proud,” said Scott Gilbert, an attorney who represented jailed American contractor Alan Gross, by way of compliment to the bartenders mixing the concoctions in a room named after the famed American ex-pat writer. “There’s a feeling today of joy, but also of disbelief,” Gilbert said. “So many people here thought this would never happen.”

Guests included Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.); plus administration types including deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. NBC anchor Andrea Mitchell slipped through the phalanx of protesters, camera crews, and folks celebrating just outside the gates.

“I’m excited,” said Danny Glover, who in addition to his “Lethal Weapon” roles has been part of numerous cultural delegations to Cuba. “This is the beginning of another narrative….What’s happened in the last 54 years is an insult to our intelligence as human beings and [American] citizens.”[34]

2016 Cuba visit

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 16 other House Democrats will join President Barack Obama on his historic trip to Cuba March 20-22.

Obama will be the first president to visit Cuba in 88 years, and the trip is a symbolic next chapter in his attempts to normalize relations with the country.

The House members will attend along with several senators who previously announced they will make the trip.

The House delegation includes Reps. Karen Bass, Cheri Bustos, Sam Farr, Rosa DeLauro, Barbara Lee, Charles Rangel, Kathy Castor, David Cicilline, Steve Cohen, Jan Schakowsky, Peter Welch, Alan Lowenthal, Jim McGovern and Lucille Roybal-Allard. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California will also travel to Cuba along with Eliot Engel, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Tom Udall of New Mexico are slated to join the trip. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been a leading advocate for normalizing relations with Cuba, will also attend. Additional House Republicans may also join.

Pelosi previously led the first official House delegation trip to the country after Obama announced the change in U.S. policy toward Cuba in 2014.[35]

2018 trip to Cuba

CUBA: U.S. House of Representatives Delegation Posted on January 28, 2018;

In January 2018, Center for Democracy in the America led a bipartisan delegation of U.S. House Members to Havana to meet with Cuban officials investigating the mysterious symptoms experienced by U.S. diplomats, assess the impact of recent U.S. policies on the Cuban people, and explore areas for future collaboration. The trip included Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13), Karen Bass (CA-37), and Roger Marshall (KS-01). The delegation had the opportunity to speak briefly with Cuban President Raul Castro and met First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel.[36]

Cuban cultural exchange

Center for Democracy in the Americas May 31, 2018 ·


CDA was proud to partner with the Kennedy Center Artes de Cuba Festival to bring Cuban artists to Capitol Hill to celebrate #culturalexchange!! Here we are with female hip hop duo La Reyna y La Real and Congressmember Karen Bass at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. #cuba #artesdecuba.

West Coast Socialist Scholars Conference 1993

Dem. Left March/April 1993, page 13

The West Coast Socialist Scholars Conference 1993, "New Realities, New Identities ; Socialism and Empowerment" was held April 17, 1993 University of California, Los Angeles.[37]

Speakers included;

Co-sponsors were Socialist Community School - Democratic Socialists of America - Committees of Correspondence - Concerned Faculty (UCLA) - CrossRoads Magazine - International Socialist Organization - Socialist Organizing Network - Solidarity - Union for Radical Political Economics[38]

Socialists "challenge for power" in Los Angeles

Trevor email 1 (3).jpg

On March 11, 1998, Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America leader Steve Tarzynski wrote an email to another Los Angeles DSA leader Harold Meyerson.

Tarzynski listed 25 people he thought should be on an "A-list" of "25 or so leaders/activists/intellectuals and/or "eminent persons" who would gather periodically to theorize/strategize about how to rebuild a progressive movement in our metropolitan area that could challenge for power."

Tarzynski listed himself, Harold Meyerson, Karen Bass, Sylvia Castillo, Gary Phillips, Joe Hicks, Richard Rothstein, Steve Cancian, Larry Frank, Torie Osborn, Rudy Acuna, Aris Anagnos, Abby Arnold, Carl Boggs, Blase Bonpane, Rick Brown, Stanley Sheinbaum, Alice Callahan, Jim Conn, Peter Dreier, Maria Elena Durazo, Miguel Contreras, Mike Davis, Bill Gallegos, Bob Gottlieb, Kent Wong, Russell Jacoby, Bong Hwan Kim, Paula Litt (and Barry Litt, with a question mark), Peter Olney, Derek Shearer, Clancy Sigal and Anthony Thigpenn.

Included in a suggested elected officials sub-group were Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gloria Romero, Jackie Goldberg, Gil Cedillo, Tom Hayden, Antonio Villaraigosa, Paul Rosenstein and Congressmen Xavier Becerra, Henry Waxman and Maxine Waters.

Tarzynski went on to write "I think we should limit the group to 25 max, otherwise group dynamics begins to break down....As i said, I would like this to take place in a nice place with good food and drink...it should properly be an all day event."

Progressive Los Angeles Network

Circa 2002 , Karen Bass , Community Coalition, served on the Advisory board of the Democratic Socialists of America dominated Progressive Los Angeles Network.[39]

Woolsey/Sheinbaum fund raiser

Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, the first Member of Congress to call on the President to bring our troops home, was be in Los Angeles on Saturday February 4th 2006, for a 'very exciting but critical fundraiser against the most well-known, well-financed challenger she's ever faced". Woolsey was facing a primary challenge from a termed-out Assemblyman Joe Nation, a moderate Democrat who has been critical of her stand on the war and on bringing home our troops. He is raising money from people who have given money to Tom DeLay and Bush-Cheney and his legislative district covers 60+% of Congresswoman Woolsey's district. Congresswoman Woolsey is a "champion of equal rights, civil liberties, protecting the environment and fighting for single payer healthcare. Congresswoman Woolsey must be re-elected by the same victory margin she has had in the past to send a message to progressives everywhere that's it IS OK to be courageous, and to not back down on issues that matter."

The Host Committee for this fundraiser includes:

Ben Affleck; Ed Asner; Warren Beatty; Jodie Evans; James Cromwell; Matt Damon; Tom Hayden; Wendy Herzog; Mimi Kennedy; Norman Lear; Stephen Rohde; Susie Shannon; Stanley Sheinbaum & Betty Sheinbaum; Lorraine Sheinberg; Kathy Spillar; Gloria A. Totten; Peg Yorkin; Senator Barbara Boxer; Congressman Joe Baca; Congressman Xavier Becerra; Congresswoman Lois Capps; Congresswoman Jane Harman; Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald; Congresswoman Grace Napolitano; Congresswoman; Lucille Roybal-Allard; Congresswoman Linda Sanchez; Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez; Congressman Adam Schiff; Congresswoman Hilda Solis; Congresswoman Maxine Waters; Congresswoman Diane Watson; Senator Sheila Kuehl and Assemblywoman Karen Bass.

The fundraiser was at the Stanley & Betty Sheinbaum residence in Brentwood. Both Sheinbaums have been members of Democratic Socialists of America.[40]

Supporting Sandre Swanson

In 2006, Karen Bass, Majority Whip California State Assembly, was one of many prominent Northern California leftists to serve on State Assembly hopeful Sandre Swanson's Honorary Campaign Committee.[41]

Voting rights press conference

July 13, 2011 WASHINGTON, DC-- Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) made this statement today at the voting rights press conference:

"[In Ohio] We have one of the most draconian voter suppression bills in the United States. If we are going to have a society that involves all of its citizens, we cannot allow for these kinds of bills to be passed by legislature after legislature... Across this country, 11% of all people who are eligible to vote do not have a government issued ID. That's 21 million people. Every time we take one step forward, we take two steps back. And we're not going to allow it to happen. "

Members in attendance:

Rep. Bennie Thompson, Rep. Corrine Brown, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Charles A. Gonzalez, Rep. Tim Ryan, Rep. Gwen Moore, Rep. Betty Sutton, Rep. Hank Johnson, Rep. Donna Christensen, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Steve Cohen, Rep. Karen Bass.

Organizations and leaders in attendance:

Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Tamika Mallory, National Action Network, Barbara Arnwine, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Laura Murphy, American Civil Liberties Union Hilary Shelton, NAACP, Rafael Collazo, National Council of La Raza/Democracia USA, Nichole Austin-Hillery, Brennan Center for Justice, Campus Progress, Center for American Progress, Diallo Brooks, People for the American Way.[42]

Obama"truth squad"

Barack Obama’s campaign in California formed a “truth squad,” announced via conference call, in January 2008, to counter the attacks that Hillary Clinton’s campaign has leveled in recent weeks. On the call were squad members Bay Area Congressman George Miller, LA Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and LA County Labor Federation chief Maria Elena Durazo, now a national co-chair of the Obama campaign. Also on the squad are Silicon Valley Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, LA Congressman Adam Schiff, state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, Assembly Majority Leader Karen Bass, and, San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.

Miller, one of the top congressional Democrats as head of the House Democratic Policy Committee and chairman of the Education & Labor Committee, noted that the truth squad was formed to deal with a threat that may or may not exist any longer. “We don’t know yet,” he said. “The Clinton campaign may have learned its lesson from South Carolina,” where voters mostly rejected the Clinton tactics, as exit polls make clear. Will former President Clinton, historically popular in California, be a problem for Obama in the nation’s largest primary? “I think there is a rethink underway about what he is doing.”[43]

46th Annual ACLU Garden Party

Karen Bass, Laura Chick

Sunday, September 20, 2009, at the home of Stanley Sheinbaum & Betty Sheinbaum Southern California ACLU held its 46th annual Garden Party.

Paying Tribute To These Champions of Civil Liberties:[44]

  • Stanley K. Sheinbaum Award - Ed Asner
  • Legislator of the Year Award - Karen Bass, Speaker of the California Assembly
  • Activist of the Year Award - Laura Chick, California Inspector General
  • Chapter Activist of the Year Award David V. DuFault, Desert Chapter
  • Chapter of the Year Award Pasadena-Foothill Chapter

Liberty Hill Foundation

As at 2009, Karen Bass, Speaker of the House, California State Assembly, was on the Board of Directors of the Liberty Hill Foundation, a Los Angeles based organization seeking to advance movements for social change through a combination of grants, leadership training and alliance-building.[45]

Funding boards

The Liberty Hill Foundation Los Angeles Community Funding Board in 1989 consisted of Members of Liberty Hill's Community Funding Board in 1989, Barbara Metzenbaum, Sharon Delugach, Sylvia Castillo, Fred Mautner, Victor Griego, .Karen Bass, Paula Crisostomo, Enrique Delacruz, Larry Frank, Khader Hamide, Sarah Jacobus, Barbara Becker, Mirta Ocana, Torie Osborn, Sherry Winters, Evelyn Yoshimura and Lori Zimmerman.[46]

Congressional Progressive Caucus

In 2011 Karen Bass was a new member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[47]

Congressional Black Caucus

Karen Bass is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus for the 113th Congress:[48]

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

In 2012, Karen Bass was listed as an associate member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.[49]

Budget cuts protest

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was among the scheduled speakers at a downtown rally march 23, 2011, to protest proposed federal budget cuts, which organizers claim would hurt the city and county governments and attempts by small businesses to avoid layoffs.

Reps. Maxine Waters, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Karen Bass, Laura Richardson and Judy Chu, Councilman Richard Alarcon, actors Tim Robbins and James Cromwell and actress Mimi Kennedy were among the other scheduled speakers for the rally at the Edward Roybal Federal Building, set to begin at 2:30 p.m.[50]

Arab American Institute

Arab American institute offers internships in Washington for Arab American college students and recent graduates interested in public affairs, advocacy and ethnic politics. The program is part of the Arab American Institute Foundation 's commitment to youth leadership, along with scholarships and awards for public and community service.

The Arab American Institute (AAI) was founded in 1985 to nurture and encourage the direct participation of Arab Americans in political and civic life in the United States. AAI provides training and resources for Arab American political effectiveness through participation in party politics, public boards and commissions, city councils and state legislatures, as well as congressional and presidential elections.

Internships during the spring, summer and fall semesters at AAI offer hands-on experience in the workings of a busy non-profit with programs that include research and information, event management, community outreach, and media relations, among others. Applications are reviewed by senior staff to determine departmental assignments based on each student's area of study, extracurricular activities, and interests.

2012 Interns were offered positions at the US Department of State, the office of Congresswoman Karen Bass, the Democratic National Committee, the Institute for Policy Studies, Churches for Middle East Peace, and others.[51]


“I commend the Council on its efforts to empower Muslim Americans to participate in both local and national politics as well as striving to encourage dialogue that presents a comprehensive and accurate understanding of Islam.”- Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) (September 2014).[52]

By protecting and defending the constitutional rights of American Muslims, CAIR has built coalitions among a diverse collection of community leaders, scholars and activists…” (October 2017).[53] Karen Bass wrote a letter of support to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on the occasion of their 24th anniversary in September 2018.[54]

IPS Africa event


In September 21 2012, Karen Bass and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, addressed the Africa Braintrust. Institute for Policy Studies' Director of Foreign Policy in Focus Emira Woods, featured on a panel about "Emerging Threats to Political Stability," in Africa. The day featured a distinguished keynote address, cultural performances, and other workshops with policymakers, academics, advocates and industry experts.

Other panelists included: Ambassador Johnnie Carson Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Amina Salum Ali Ambassador of African Union to the U.S. and the IPS's Dr. Clarence Lusane Professor, American University.[55]

Lifting travel ban on Cuba

A May 03, 2013 Press release from the radical controlled and Institute for Policy Studies affiliated Latin America Working Group's Cuba Team stated:

Due to your action/emails/phone calls we have 59 signatures from House representatives urging President Obama to support travel to Cuba by granting general licenses for ALL current categories of travel.
By eliminating the laborious license application process, especially for people-to-people groups, that is managed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the majority of the bureaucratic red tape that holds up licensable travel to Cuba would disappear and actually facilitate what the President wanted to see in 2011, liberalized travel regulations.

Signatories included Rep. Karen Bass.[56]

Introducing student bill

In 2013, "frustrated by the enormity of the debt problem", United States Student Association leaders took the matter into their own hands, helping to write the Student Loan Fairness Act. This bill tied student income with debt repayment and forgiveness after a decade of payment. A student who pays 10 percent of their income for 10 years toward their student debt would subsequently have their remaining debt forgiven.

Sophia Zaman, USSA vice-president, said, "We basically drafted the bill, and our strong ally, Congresswoman Karen Bass, D-Calif., introduced it."[57]


2008, Ms. Liliana Perez, Statewide Liaison to the LGBT Communities, Office of the Speaker of the CA Assembly Karen Bass (Los Angeles, CA).

PowerPac+ connection

PowerPAC+ Board of Directors, as of 2014 included Solomon Rivera - Los Angeles, CA Deputy Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Karen Bass.[58]

Cookie Parker connection

Cookie Parker is a political activist who served on President Obama’s National Finance Committee for both the 2008 and 2012 campaigns; was a National Co-Chair for Technology for Obama (T4O); was on the original finance team for Common Purpose Project; and was a DNC Presidential Partner. Parker is the Finance Chair for Congresswoman Karen Bass’ re-election, and helps raise for funds for progressive Presidential, House and Senatorial candidates.[59]

Endorsing Torie Osborn

In 2012 Torie Osborn, was a candidate for California's new vacant 50th Assembly District.[60]


Honoring Dymally

The late Mervyn Dymally, a far left Los Angeles-based lawmaker for decades, was honored at a Dec. 12, 2012, memorial service in Washington DC.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) hosted the event, at the House Visitors Center, Room 215.

Among those slated to speak were Democratic Reps. Maxine Waters and Karen Bass of Los Angeles and Janice Hahn of San Pedro. [62]

PDA contact

In 2013 Progressive Democrats of America assigned activists to deliver their material to almost every US Congressman and Senator, Joseph Hancock, was signed as the contact for Rep. Bass.[63]

ARA endorsement

Alliance for Retired Americans endorsed Karen Bass in 2012.[64]

Parke Skelton support

Parke Skelton is one of California’s preeminent political campaign consultants. His firm, SG&A Campaigns, has run campaigns for scores of progressive Democratic candidates including Controller John Chiang, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Congressmembers Karen Bass, Julia Brownley, Judy Chu, Alan Lowenthal, Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman and Hilda Solis, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and District Attorney Jackie Lacey.[65]

Fred Ross award campaign

In early 2013, mainly Democratic Socialists of America aligned activists, together with many elected officials across the United States came together to urge President Barack Obama to award posthumously the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the legendary organizer, Fred Ross, Sr.. The Saul Alinsky trained radical was the first to organize people through house meetings, a mentor to both Cesar Chavez and DSAer Dolores Huerta, and a pioneer in Latino voter outreach since 1949 when he helped elect Communist Party USA affiliate Ed Roybal as Los Angeles’s first Latino council member, "Ross’ influence on social change movements remains strong two decades after his death in 1992".

Congressional endorsers of the proposal included Karen Bass.[66]

Nelson Mandela's funeral

In December 2013, the following Democratic legislators traveled to South Africa to attended Nelson Mandela's funeral Democrats Dels. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) and Donna Christensen (V.I.); and Democratic Reps. Marcia Fudge, John Conyers (Mich.), Charles Rangel (N.Y.), John Lewis, Jim McDermott (Wash.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Mel Watt (N.C.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (Tex.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Gene Green (Tex.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio) and Terri Sewell (Ala.).[67]

Venezuelan connection

According to data the Venezuelan delegation to Washington filed with the Foreign Agents Registration of the US, Venezuelan officials had 82 contacts with personalities in the United States. The list includes meetings with lawmakers, NGOs, and representatives of US actor Danny Glover's office.

The website of the US Government's Foreign Agents Registration published a report by Olivia Goumbri, who identifies herself as the Venezuelan Embassy's Social Outreach Counselor. The document elaborates on the Venezuelan officials' contacts with US political, cultural, and academic leaders.

Pursuant to the US law, foreign government agents in the United States have to report such activities to the NSD.

The document includes a questionnaire in which Goumbri was asked whether her foreign principal (the Embassy of Venezuela) had engaged in any political activity in the US. Goumbri's response was Yes.

Several congressional representatives, a pro-Cuban organization, religious leaders, social organizations, and actor Danny Glover's office are among the 82 registered contacts between Venezuelan diplomats and US-based individuals or organizations. Such activities took place from November 2012 to April 30, 2013.

Barbara Lee, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Yvette Clarke, Gregory Meeks, Karen Bass and Jose Serrano - an admirer of late President Hugo Chávez- are some of the members of the House of Representatives who were contacted by the Venezuelan diplomatic mission through their parliamentary offices .[68]

Congressional Letter on 2014 Salvadoran Elections

On Monday December 16, 2014 Reps. Juan Vargas (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) sent a letter to Sec. of State John Kerry – signed by 51 Members of Congress – calling for a public statement of neutrality by the State Department before the first round of El Salvador’s presidential elections on February 2, 2014.

The letter, , highlighted several “important steps” that the current government has taken to “strengthen its democratic system and expand the right to vote to all citizens,” including those living outside of the country, who will be voting by absentee ballot for the first time in February. Since the election of Mauricio Funes, the first President from the Marxist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, the government has increased the number of polling places four-fold to increase accessibility, especially in rural areas.

“We’re glad to see so many Members of Congress expressing respect for the right of the Salvadoran people to determine their own future. That’s an attitude that’s sorely lacking in much of the US’ policy in Central America, especially with regard to economic policy,” said Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director for the pro-communist Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), in Washington, DC, which has observed every post-war election in El Salvador, starting in 1994.

Signatories included Rep. Bass .[69].

Congressmembers - Obama rescind Venezuela sanctions

May 15, 2015, Sixteen Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter calling on President Obama to withdraw sanctions on seven Venezuelan government officials, and also to withdraw the language of an executive order justifying the sanctions.

The sanctions to which the letter refers were based on legislation voted by Congress in December and signed by the president on Dec. 18. On Mar. 9, after the arrest of several Venezuelan political figures whom Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro accused of plotting a coup, President Obama issued an executive order declaring an "emergency" on the basis of a supposed "unusual and extraordinary threat" to the United States and its interests by Venezuela, and imposed the sanctions, mostly on mid-level security personnel.

The sanctions prevent them from traveling to the United States and freeze any assets they might have in this country.

The congresspersons who signed the letter were: Hank Johnson, John Conyers, Barbara Lee, Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Jose Serrano, Sam Farr, Karen Bass, Jan Schakowsky, Jim McDermott, Bobby Rush, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Mike Capuano, Charles Rangel, Chellie Pingree, and Earl Blumenauer.[70]


After an emotional meeting between a dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus and activists in Ferguson, Mo., the CBC pledges action to keep the movement going.

After a dinner meeting with 10 young activists in Ferguson, Mo., members of the Congressional Black Caucus are looking for ways to empower the Ferguson activist community. Eleven members of the caucus met with the activists Jan. 17, 2015 including leaders from the Organization for Black Struggle and activists Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie.

“That dinner meeting was powerful. They [the members] heard it. They got an earful from those young people about how bad it is. They spoke on how they felt that the civil rights movement had failed them and talked on the abuse they are still taking from the criminal-justice system,” Rep. William Lacy Clay, Jr. (D-Mo.) told The Root days after the CBC visit to his district.

“The next step is for the Congressional Black Caucus Institute to get behind a massive effort to educate the voters of Ferguson. It’s a community of 21,000 people, 67 percent African American; we have the numbers, and the map works for them having a voice in local government,” Clay added.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), who attended the Ferguson dinner, stressed during an interview with The Root, “We can’t tell them what to do” but “we can help them with what they want to do.”

Members of the CBC pledged to sponsor several young activists from Ferguson for the next CBC Political and Education Leadership Institute Boot Camp. The CBC Institute, started in 2002, has an annual political-leadership boot camp that focuses on leadership development, political campaigns and issue advocacy. In July, 55 young people graduated from the boot camp. Members can sponsor boot camp students with their campaign funds.

“Rep. Joyce Beatty [D-Ohio] agreed to sponsor one of the activists who attended the dinner at the CBC Institute boot camp. We’re gonna have about 15 of these young people in our boot camp from Ferguson,” Clay said.

Clay said the dinner meeting “was very positive, and it wasn’t really slamming the police, but it’s letting them know: OK, we’re watching you. We’re gonna take direct action legislatively to correct some of these gross inequities in the administration of justice.”

CBC member Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), currently the top fundraiser of the 46-member caucus, brought a check to the dinner meeting for each City Council candidate at the gathering. A more detailed fundraising plan is being thought out.

“We have filled the candidates in those seats, and we will be going out in each of the three wards in Ferguson, educating the voters on the importance of them having a voice in their local government,” said Clay.

CBC Chairman G.K. Butterfield told The Root on the night of the State of the Union that the caucus will soon unveil a detailed criminal-justice legislative plan.


The delegation also included reps Karen Bass, D-Calif.; Andre Carson, D-Ind.; Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City; Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio; Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas; Donald Payne, Jr., D-N.J.[72]

Voting Rights Forum

Friday, May 20 @ 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.: Voting Rights Forum in Los Angeles. CAPAC Chair Judy Chu, along with CHC Chair Linda Sanchez, and Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Karen Bass will be hosting a voting rights forum in Los Angeles on May 20th from 10 am - 12 pm, at the East Los Angeles College. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Stewart Kwoh from Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA will also be participating in the event.[73]

Leftist women


Kamala Harris GOTV with Sydney Kamlager, Holly Mitchell, Karen Bass, Yvonne Burke, Diane Watson.

2016 Spirit of Courage Awards

On November 17, 2016, Courage Campaign hosted the Sixth Annual Spirit of Courage Awards at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, to honor two courageous champions and inspiring leaders -- State Senator Holly Mitchell and author and activist Steve Phillips.

From live mariachi in the courtyard to rousing speeches and lively conversation, the evening brought together hundreds of Courage Campaign members, partners and friends, reminding us all that the shock of the election would not diminish our courage and commitment to fight for a more progressive California and country.

Senator Mitchell, whose 30th Senate District stretches from Culver City to South Los Angeles, was celebrated for her skill and determination as a legislator, and her unparalleled record fighting for policies that alleviate poverty, roll back the War on Drugs, and bring justice for the most vulnerable Californians. The award was presented by her constituents, with a special video greeting from Congresswoman Karen Bass.

Steve Phillips was honored for his visionary and innovative leadership as the founder of PowerPAC+ and Democracy in Color, and New York TImes-bestselling author of Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created A New American Majority. His award was presented by Jane Kim, who currently serves on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and was the first Korean-American elected official in San Francisco. [74]

Korean connection

KC Choi connection


Women Cross DMZ connection


NAKASEC staffer

Eun Sook Lee is the former senior deputy for Congressmember Karen Bass, executive director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), executive director of Korean American Women In Need, and Station Manager of CKLN Public Radio in Toronto, Canada.[75]

AAPI Immigrant Rights Organizing Table

Close to 150 immigrants and advocates from Black and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities came together in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 5 2017, for a day of action on immigration. Together, the two groups, often unheard in the debate about immigration policy, joined forces to call for a clean DREAM Act and a permanent solution for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

Led by UndocuBlack and the AAPI Immigrant Rights Organizing Table, the day featured a news conference with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Rep. Judy Chu, (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky, (D-Ill.), and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.)

“As an undocumented immigrant, woman of color, and a DREAMer, I can attest to the fact that this bill will determine the future of 11 million human lives,” said Angie Kim, who participated in the news conference on behalf of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum. “This bill is not just a policy. This bill is not an amnesty. This bill is about true American value, American history, humanity, and justice.”

“DACA changed my life. It allowed me to go to and finish school, get a good job and support my family. A clean DREAM Act must pass before Christmas,” said Jung Woo Kim speaking on behalf of the Korean Resource Center and NAKASEC. “We, young immigrant Americans, are an important part of the future of this nation. What kind of government would throw away its young people?”[76]

HR 109 endorser

By February 20 2019 endorsers of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's HR 109 (Green New Deal) included Karen Bass.

Medicare for All Act

In February 2019 Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced H.R.1384 - Medicare for All Act of 2019. By May 29 she had 110 co-sponsors including Rep. Karen Bass.

Trip to Ethiopia and Eritrea

March 5, 2019 , Representative Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, and Representatives Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) returned from a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) to Ethiopia and Eritrea. The goal of the visit was to support regional peace and security in the Horn of Africa and to encourage countries to place human rights at the center of the reforms.

“It was important our first Congressional Delegation trip of this Congress be to the Horn of Africa because of the change the region is going through following the historic peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea that ended 20 years of conflict,” said Representative Bass. “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came into office with a serious reform agenda aimed at ending political repression. Since coming into office, the Prime Minister has freed thousands of political prisoners, opened the media, and appointed women to half of the cabinet posts. I was in Ethiopia shortly after the Prime Minister took office and looked forward to an update on his progress. Our delegation was fortunate to meet with the President of Ethiopia and several of the new female cabinet members.

“In addition to wanting to send the signal that we support Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform agenda, our delegation was also meant to encourage the new peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The last U.S. Congressional Delegation to visit the country was in 2005, when my predecessor on the Subcommittee, the late Congressman Donald Payne of New Jersey, traveled to Eritrea. Our delegation had a number of productive conversations with Eritrean government officials. We discussed the need for transformation and urged officials to be vigilant about human rights abuses in Eritrea and to implement respect for civil liberties. We also discussed Eritrea’s unlimited national service requirement, which is one of the main reasons why thousands have fled the country. The government officials we met with informed us that the policy is under review now that the security situation in Eritrea has improved. We also met with young Eritreans and were able to hear about their daily lives and their hope for the future.

“This Congressional Delegation to the Horn of Africa was critical because it signals to the region as a whole that we are supportive of positive reforms.”

“I echo Chairwoman Bass’ statement, and appreciated the opportunity to join her on this diplomatic CODEL trip to Ethiopia and Eritrea,” said Representative Neguse. “I look forward to further discussions with my colleagues and the State Department on how to further promote peace, security, human rights, and democratic reforms in the region.”

“I was impressed with the regional thaw in East Africa after Eritrea and Ethiopia made peace,” said Representative Omar. “As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, my focus has been on peace and human rights and shifting our focus on humanitarian aid to developmental aid. It was a great honor to join Chairwoman Bass for the first official CODEL to the Horn of Africa. America has been supportive of Prime Minister Abiy’s reform agenda, and I believe we must use this opportunity to foster prosperity in the region and make investments that will fundamentally transform our relationship with the region.”[77]


  1. Official bio, accessed April 15, 2011
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