AG Brown pokes fun at Clinton, apologizes

Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 14, 2010, 10:00am


SACRAMENTO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, in the wake of a controversial television ad from his opponent Meg Whitman, is now criticizing former President Bill Clinton.

Brown assailed the former Democratic president to a crowd at an East Los Angeles event Sunday by referring to Clinton's dalliance with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"Meg Whitman. She stops at nothing. She's even got Clinton lying about me. That's right. No, did you see that? Where he said I raised taxes. It's a lie," he told the crowd.

"I mean Clinton's a nice guy but whoever said he always told the truth? You remember, right? There's that whole story there about did he or didn't he. OK, I did... I did not have taxes with this state."

The last line was a play on Clinton's defense in the 1998 scandal that he had a relationship with the intern. At the time, Clinton said, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

Clinton subsequently admitted to an improper relationship with Lewinsky and faced impeachment proceedings.

As the Los Angeles Times' PolitiCal blog later reported on Monday, Brown apologized for his comments at the Sunday event.

"Bill Clinton was an excellent president. It was wrong for me to joke about an incident from many years ago, and I'm sorry," Brown said.

Then, referring to the former eBay CEO Whitman, he said, "She hasn't told the truth about my record as governor. She hasn't told the truth about my record as mayor. She hasn't even told the truth about her own record.

"I've made my share of mistakes, and my inappropriate joke about President Clinton is one of them. But from me you'll always get the truth."

Clinton came to the center of the heated gubernatorial race last week, when Whitman's campaign launched a new 30-second commercial that features the former president attacking her now opponent, Brown.

The ad uses a clip of Clinton attacking Brown for his tax record during a 1992 presidential primary debate.

The commercial features the former two-term president accusing Whitman's Democratic opponent of lying about cutting taxes during his previous stint as the state's governor.

"CNN. Not me, CNN says his assertion about his tax record was, quote, 'just plain wrong.' Jerry Brown went out there and took credit for the fact that the people of California voted for Proposition 13, which lowered taxes, which he opposed. And now he's going around taking credit for it," Clinton says in the April 1992 C-SPAN clip.

"He raised taxes as governor of California. He had a surplus when he took office and a deficit when he left. He doesn't tell the people the truth."

The former CNN journalist who originally reported that taxes went up during Brown's previous tenure -- along with the California Department of Finance -- have recently said that claim is false.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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