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June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 45

Photo of John Graham

John Graham

No Party Preference
Business Professor/Author
3,817 votes (2.3%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • My top priority is to change how the government works. I provide a nonpartisan choice, someone who will represent only you, not a party or donors. As an Independent candidate I am not controlled by political party money or pressure.
  • Tax policy -- restore deductions for state and local taxes, provide tax credits for granny flats, hike taxes substantially on the "super rich."
  • Health Care -- Expand Medicare to all, tax sugar delivered to food processors at 500%. The latter is the single single step that will have the greatest impact on the public health of the United States.



Profession:Business Professor, UC Irvine
Professor Emeritus of International Business, Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine (1989–current)
Director, UCI Center for Global Leadership — Appointed position (2016–current)
Director, UCI Center for Citizen Peacebuilding — Appointed position (2000–2008)
Associate Professor of International Business, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California (1979–1989)
Lecturer and Research Assistant, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley (1976–1980)
Lieutenant, US Navy UDT/SEAL Teams, active duty and reserves (1970–1979)
Market Analyst, Solar Turbines International, a division of Caterpillar (1975–1976)


UC Berkeley PhD, Marketing and Anthropology (1980)
San Diego State University MBA, Business Administration (1975)
San Jose State Univeristy BA, Chemistry (1970)

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (5)

What financing method(s) would you support to repair or improve roads, rails, ports, airports, the electrical grid and other infrastructure in the U.S.?
Answer from John Graham:

a mix of public and private

What programs or legislation, if any, would you support to help Americans of all ages secure affordable health care?
Answer from John Graham:

Spreading Medicare coverage to all

Describe an immigration policy that you would support if presented to the House.
Answer from John Graham:

Immigration is needed to mitigate the crushing expenses of the babyboomer retirement. Immigration should be open, with clear paths to citizenship without biases of any kind.

What programs or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of Californians and the federal water project infrastructure in California?
Answer from John Graham:

Sustainability is crucial across environmental areas. Legistration and both public and private investement will be required to provide a safe and clean enviornment. We are actively working on building a variety of programs in the areas of sustainability at the Center for Global Leadership where I currently work.

According to a "Civility In America” survey, 75% of Americans believe that the U.S. has a major civility problem. If you are elected what will do to address this?
Answer from John Graham:

One of my specific purpose in running as a no-party, independent candidate is to serve as a bridge/faciliator between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $41,543

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

John Graham

More information about contributions

By State:

California 100.00%

By Size:

Large contributions (100.00%)
Small contributions (0.00%)

By Type:

From organizations (0.00%)
From individuals (100.00%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Tax policy -- restore deductions for state and local taxes, hike taxes on the super rich, .



The burgeoning wealth of this country is not being distributed efficiently or fairly. In 1980 the top one percent of income earners in the United States garnered 12% of the national income, while the bottom fifty percent earned 20%. 








Tax Policy


Problem: There has been no “trickle down” from the Reagan era income tax cuts. None. Indeed, what has transpired since the 1980s in this country is riches have been “gushing up” to the richest people. Now the Republicans are trying to make the “gush up” even more powerful. This has to stop.


The average American’s purchasing power is at historic highs. The only hiccup in the steady growth of this bellwether of our economy was in 2009 during the Great Recession. Even so, in 2016 our average purchasing power reached a record $57,467 according to the World Bank. That’s good.


But, this burgeoning wealth is not being distributed efficiently or fairly. In 1980 the top one percent of income earners in the United States garnered 12% of the national income, while the bottom fifty percent earned 20%. The Reagan tax cuts have flipped that historical relationship with the top one percent now taking the lion’s share. See the exhibit below and an even more telling graphic presentation at  





The one percenters really haven’t noticed the difference, but the rest of us have. Even Warren Buffett argues for higher taxes on the rich:


Proposals: In order to close this dangerous gap in how income is distributed in our country first, we need to raise taxes on the super rich, as Warren Buffett argues. Second we need to have a national minimum wage of $15. Third, we need to repeal past legislation that has weakened the collective bargaining power of union members.


It seems quite reasonable to return to top marginal tax rates common before the Reagan tax cuts to 70%, and this top tax bracket should start at $400,000.


Evidence: Below is a representation of how tax rates have changed over the years.




Health Care


Expand Medicare to all, tax sugar delivered to food processors at 500%.

Health Care


PROBLEMS: Yes, health care is a matter of security. We really have two problems here. First, circa 2018 the American health care system is mediocre compared to other developed countries. But we are paying twice as much for the same quality of care. Second, while overpaying is a serious problem that affects Americans’ prosperity, it is nothing compared to the coming complete failure of our system. Crushed by the 75 million aging baby boomers, our much overtaxed health care system will become a risk to our personal and national security.


With respect to the outrageous costs, the pharmaceutical and insurance companies and some providers are combining to double our costs compared to those in other industrialized countries. Please see the excellent portrayal of the problem from National Geographic:



For a more recent analyses see The extra four or five thousand dollars we are spending is going to the shareholders of the large companies. My comments regarding Empowering People are relevant here.


PROPOSAL: Despite all the machinations on Capitol Hill over the repeal of Obama Care, the only answer that best serves Americans’ security and prosperity is a move in the direction of universal coverage probably using a single-payer approach. Home care and extended-family interdependence will also be aspects of getting through the next two decades. There will be bureaucratic chaos and unfortunate deaths along the way. But circa 2030 universal care will deliver universal security in this vital area.

 Problem:Drug/alcohol overdoses, or poisonings, resulted in over 5,500 hospitalizations and nearly 700 deaths among Orange County residents each year.” See for details. This is the more publicized, but less important part of the problem.

Proposals:  We must legalize, label, educate, and tax all psychoactive substances including the biggest killer of all, sugar, to reduce consumption and abuse of these addictive products.

Evidence: A wealth of evidence is provided on this topic just below as Chapters 14 and 12 of my new book, Spiced: The Global Marketing of Psychoactive Substances.


The people should be served by both government and companies.


While the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution specifically say both the government and corporations must serve the people, currently in the US these relationships are reversed. Company donations control the Congress, and the Congress limits our personal freedoms.

Empowering People

 Problem: Very large companies and super-rich individuals control the country. Through their huge donations to both political parties, they literally dictate to your representatives in Washington. If you are merely an employee or a consumer, this system works directly against your wellbeing. Moreover, this system is not what our Revolutionary War forefathers described in the The Declaration of Independence and The U.S. Constitution:

 “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” from The Declaration of Independence

“The Congress shall have the Power…To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes” from The Constitution

 So the intended pecking order implied in the most fundamental documents of the country is:

  people control government which in turn controls companies.

 Despite the warnings of Presidents like Washington and Eisenhower, the pecking order has now been reversed, “We the People” are on the bottom:                                

companies (and the super rich) control government which in turn controls people. 

Our individual freedom is frighteningly reduced accordingly.

 Remedies: There are four that come immediately to mind. (1) Strengthen anti-trust legislation and enforcement; (2) amend the Constitution to dismiss the notion of the “corporate personhood;” (3) campaign finance reform; and (4) elect nonpartisan representatives.

 Anti-Trust Renewal. The so-called Robber Barons of the 19th Century were brought to bear by Teddy Roosevelt’s trust busting and the consequent enactment and enforcement of anti-trust legislation. One hundred years later we are due for another dose of this medicine.

Amending the Constitution. Because the 14th Amendment and precedents in related U.S. case law grant personhood to corporations, there are few limits on their freedom to donate to political campaigns. And, boy, do the give. Only about 10% of campaign finances come from small individual contributors, the rest from corporations (through PACs) and the super rich.

Campaign Finance Reform. One most actionable approach is to elect candidates like me that accept no donations. I will be paying my own costs of electronic and social media and perhaps a few yard signs. I am depending on volunteers to schedule discussions with their friends and world of mouth testimonials. There is no reason that Congressional campaigns cannot be won on the cheap like this. Indeed, we should all thank Donald Trump for changing the game of elections in the United States.

 There is good reason too interrupt the river of money corrupting political campaigns in this country. Consider the argument with respect to Big Tobacco donations to local and national candidates. Indeed, Altria, the American tobacco giant, is one of Mimi Walters’ biggest donors. You should ask her if those donations influence her votes on relevant legislation. She will immediately answer, “Of course not, that would be illegal.” Almost every sitting politician in the country will give the same answer. This is where the culture of lying in Washington DC emanates. This is the biggest whopper fed the American people.

 Evidence: Big Tobacco is just the tip of the iceberg on the bribery of Congress, some call it lobbying. Your typical Congressional incumbent around the country spends more than half her time, sometimes 6-8 hours per day, raising money (see And then she spends about eighty percent of that on mass media advertising in the last few weeks of her campaign. Little of that advertising regards actual information on issues. We’ve all seen and heard the attack ads the flood the air waves. If she has a safe seat, she may dole out some of her campaign war chest to her fellow party members who are facing tougher opponents. Then she’s buying power within her own party. As of one year out, Mimi Walters has already raised more than $700,000. 

Here’s some detail about how Big Tobacco operates from Spiced, my newest book:

 While the other marketers of the legal hedonic compounds (salt, sugar, coffee, and alcohol) spend millions on public relations, the tobacco companies have been the champion customers of the PR industry. While British Petroleum and the auto makers fight expensive PR battles with their critics, the tobacco companies have been engaged in a centuries-long war with consumer groups and potential regulators. There is no better book on this war in the last century than Allan Brandt’s The Cigarette Century. He documents the weapons used by the American tobacco moguls – the PR expenditures, the political contributions, the “research” sponsored by the industry, and the lies.

          The big tobacco firms’ conviction of price fixing in 1941 made them wary of top-level meetings among the firms. But on December 14, 1953 they took the risk to meet at the Plaza Hotel in New York to consider strategies to manage the threat of the evolving cancer research. The next day they hired the largest PR firm in the country, Hill & Knowlton (HK). HK is still one of the largest PR firms, but its doings are now obscured by WPP (the largest advertising, PR, and communications company in the world) corporate control. Professor Brandt best articulates what happened next:

Hill [that is, John W. Hill, HK’s president] and his colleagues set to work to review a full range of approaches open to them. Dismissing as shortsighted the idea of mounting personal attacks on researchers or simply issuing blanket assurances of safety, they concluded instead that seizing control of the science of tobacco and health would be as important as seizing control of the media. It would be crucial to identify scientists who expressed skepticism about the link between cigarettes and cancer, those critical of statistical methods, and especially those who had offered alternative hypotheses for the cause of cancer. Hill set his staff to identify the most vocal and visible skeptics. These people would be central to the development of an industry scientific program in step with its larger public relations goals. Hill understood that simply denying the harms of smoking would alienate the public. His strategy for ending the “hysteria” was to insist that there were “two sides.” …so Hill would engineer “controversy.” This strategy – invented by Hill in the context of his work for the tobacco industry – would ultimately become the cornerstone of a large range of efforts to distort scientific process in the second half of the twentieth century.[i]

Does all this sound familiar?

          A story for another book is the huge power American industry exerts over government through campaign donations. While the U.S. Constitution specifies that Congress is “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States…”, it often seems that the companies are controlling the Congress. In 2010 Altria Group/Philip Morris USA spent over $10 million on its lobbying efforts in the US. Big Tobacco spends at least $1 million on Democratic Party candidates in each two-year federal election cycle and in the last two decades has spent four times that on Republican candidates. In the 1996 campaign the tobacco interests donated $8.6 million to Republicans vs. $2.0 million to Democrats. Earlier that year President Clinton had ordered huge restrictions on cigarette advertising directed at children

Elect Nonpartisans. There are three reasons to believe political parties do damage to American democracy.

First, our first President warned us about them (read the details at


The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit

 of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. 

George Washington’s Farwell Address, 1796


Second is gerrymandering, that is, collusion between Republicans and Democrats to strengthen their incumbencies by drawing party-favorable Congressional districts. Incumbency naturally limits new both ideas coming to the fore and the power of voters.


Third, the best policies and laws will be developed by Congress through what we call inventive negotiation. This process will involve Democrats, Republicans, and third party and independent representatives working together in creative ways. While deadlock is disaster, compromise isn’t really much of an improvement. The best decisions will entail thinking outside the partisan box.


Evidence: We report an outstanding example in Chapter 7 of Inventive Negotiation, excerpted here. 

          When the US Congress shut down the government in the fall of 2013, it was diversity that got it up and running again. According to Time Magazine’s cover story, Women Are the Only Adults Left in Washington: “At one of the darkest moments of the government shutdown, with markets dipping and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue hurling icy recriminations, Maine Republican Susan Collins went to the Senate floor to do two things that none of her colleagues had yet attempted. She refrained from partisan blame and proposed a plan to end the crisis.”

Other women senators stood behind her. Indeed, most of the 20 women in the Senate had met informally the night before over pizza, salad, and wine in the Senate offices, and they had discussed several ways to compromise. None of the old cigars and poker chips there. No bluster or bluffing, just respectful positive discourse. Ultimately, Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell were shamed into better behavior, and that different sort of discourse among the women had led directly to more inventive options.

[i] Allan M. Brandt, The Cigarette Century (New York: Basic Books, 2007), 167.

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