Brown spokesman resigns over secret recordings

Chris Rizo Nov. 2, 2009, 3:49pm

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-California Attorney General Jerry Brown's communications director resigned Monday amid a controversy over his secretly recording telephone conversations with journalists.

Gerber was placed on administrative leave Friday after admitting to making the tapes with reporters, including a senior writer from The San Francisco Chronicle. It is unclear whether any of Brown's interviews with Legal Newsline were also recorded.

He resigned today in a letter to Chief Deputy Attorney General James Humes.

"As we have discussed, I recorded a number of phone interviews with reporters without seeking their permission. My purpose wasn't to play gotcha but simply to have an accurate record of official, on-the-record statements on matters of public concern," He wrote. "It is clear now that I made serious errors in judgment. I should have asked reporters for permission to record, and I should have followed the guidance you provided. I suspect that the few reporters involved in the calls I taped would have readily said yes, but nonetheless it was wrong not to ask them first."

He added: "The errors were mine alone -- neither the attorney general nor any other attorneys from our office were aware that I was recording interviews without permission."

Gerber admitted to recording an interview Wednesday with The San Francisco Chronicle's seasoned political reporter Carla Marinucci, who interviewed Brown for a story about criticisms of revisions Brown made to the ballot summary of a proposed measure on car insurance rates.

After the story was published on the newspaper's Web site, the Chronicle reported that Gerber contacted an editor at the newspaper to complain and e-mailed the editor a transcript of the conversation.

California is one of 12 states that require notification of all parties before a phone call is taped.

News of the tapes was widely reported in the state's media and in blogs around the state. The controversy comes as Brown, 71, is considering a run for governor, a post he held from 1975 to 1983.

Since Brown, a Democrat, held office before the state's term limits law was enacted, he may run again. He was the mayor of Oakland, Calif., from 1998 to 2006, before being elected as the state's chief legal officer in 2007.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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