CalChamber board members irked by anti-Brown ad

By Chris Rizo | Apr 8, 2010

Jerry Brown (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Four members of the California Chamber of Commerce's board are crying foul over a political ad the business group is airing against Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jerry Brown.

A letter from the offended board members -- George Kieffer, Kevin Ratner, Robert Simonds and Cindy Starrett -- asks the president of CalChamber to remove the ad from the airwaves.

The short TV spot attacks the attorney general's record on taxes and spending for the time he was California governor nearly three decades ago and the mayor of Oakland, Calif., from 1998 to 2006.

"While we understand that the Chamber staff is justifying these ads as 'issue ads' pursuant to a board decision to conduct issue-oriented education efforts, to any reasonably minded person this is nothing more than a typical political attack ad," the letter said. "It undermines the Chamber's credibility to justify it as anything other than that."

The April 7 letter noted that the 90-plus-member CalChamber board had not authorized attacks on political candidates.

"We, as members of the CalChamber Board of Directors, did not authorize the funding of attack ads on individual candidate and, frankly, do not want the CalChamber to be using our member dues for these kinds of actions," the letter said.

The Chamber's ad, which is running statewide, highlights Brown's original opposition to a 1978 ballot measure, Proposition 13, which restricted property taxes and required a two-thirds vote for new taxes to be approved either by the public or the state Legislature.

"California has lost 1 million jobs, we're $200 billion in debt and Jerry Brown has a 35-year record of higher spending and taxes," the 33-second spot says. The ad notes that under his gubernatorial administration, state spending increased 163 percent. During his time as mayor, city spending in Oakland increased 60 percent and taxes increased.

"We want to ensure that we integrate the issues that are critically important to our members and Californians into the election debate," CalChamber President Allan Zaremberg said in a statement announcing the ads. "The goal of these ads is to press the candidates to articulate how their views about taxing and spending are likely to impact our job climate in the future."

Brown is seeking to succeed Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Golden State's chief executive. Brown, who was governor from 1975 to 1983, may seek another two terms because he held office before the state's term limits were enacted.

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