The Forgotten Years

Attorney General

Attorney General Controversies:

Attorney General Jerry Brown’s communications director Scott Gerber secretly recorded six phone conversations with five different individuals without the knowledge of the other parties.  This appeared to be in conflict with state law the prohibits such actions.  The Attorney General’s office contended that it was legal for the Attorney General’s office to record phone conversations with news reporters if it was for a public purpose.

In late 2009, the story came to light in an article in the Chronicle over complaints that consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield’s criticisms of revisions to the Title and Summary of an initiative dealing with car insurance rates.

Various newspapers called for an investigation.  AG Brown, the state’s top cop, chose to conduct the investigation with his own staff, rather than have an independent investigation.  Brown’s communications director subsequently resigned.

Brown’s own internal investigation cleared his communications director.

After three weeks of criticism, Brown asked the Democrat Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to conduct the investigation.

While Brown suffered from very bad press over the secret recordings of phone conversation with reporters, the Alameda County DA found no violation of state law.

When Proposition 8 (the initiate that would limit marriage in California to that between a man and a woman) qualified for the November 2008 ballot, proponents of the initiative charged that Attorney General Brown, who prepares the Title and Summary of initiatives that are provided to the voters in their sample ballot material, prepared a biased and anti-Prop. 8 Title and Summary.

A similar charge was raised in 2007 over an initiative to weaken term limits in California.  Democrat legislative leaders sponsored the initiative and opponents charged that the AG’s Title and Summary sounded like the initiative did not weaken term limits in California.

State Senator George Runner charged that the AG’s Title and Summary for his Vote SAFE Now initiative was not only misleading and biased but factually incorrect.  The AG subsequently corrected the Title and Summary.

Alternatively, when Brown prepared the Title for Proposition 1, he provided a title loaded with positives: “Safe, reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.  (Brown has a history of support for high-speed rail projects dating back to his first governorship.)

Attorney General Brown sued San Bernardino County for having a General Plan update that didn’t adequately address greenhouse gas emissions.  The settlement required the County of San Bernardino to spend $321,059 to create a Countywide Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan.

Following the ACORN expose that led to President Obama and Congress to take action to limit ACORN’s contracts with the federal government, the expose in San Diego featured an ACORN employee helping a “pimp” and his “girl” figure out how to run their operation with underage girls from Latin America to work as prostitutes in San Diego.

Attorney General Brown announced an investigation of ACORN in San Diego.

ACORN spokesman, David Lagstein, was caught on tape claiming a whitewash by the Attorney General’s office at a public meeting of the East County Democrat Club in El Cajon.  Lagstein was ACORN’s Chief Organizer in the San Diego area.

Lagstein said that the AG would clear them and find the film makes at fault.  In fact, the Attorney General did investigate the possibility of charging the film makers with violation of state law for recording the meeting without the knowledge of the ACORN employee.  However, when the Attorney General’s own communications director was found to have secretly recorded members of the press without their knowledge Brown abandoned the investigation of those who had prepared the documentary on ACORN.

In January of 2009, Attorney General Brown and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called on the federal court to end the prison receivership of J. Clark Kelsow and his court mandated $8 Billion prison construction plan.  The receivership was ordered by Judge Thelton Henderson of the 9th Circuit in January of 2008.

In August of 2009, Attorney General Brown criticized abusive nonprofit pay and management abuse.

On August 5, 2010, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette dealt Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown a sharp rebuke.  As Attorney General, Brown wrote the legal title and summary of Proposition 25.  This legal but ministerial job is suppose to be performed in a non-political and fair way for the initiative and for the voters of the state of California.   Judge Marlette deleted a sentence that Brown prepared for the title of Prop 25 that said it won’t affect the super-majority vote for  tax increases calling the sentence “misleading.”  Opponents of Prop 25 argued that Attorney General Brown had abused his discretion to write a favorable but misleading title and summary for Prop. 25 which Brown supports.

This rebuke followed a similar rebuke in another case dealing with Proposition 23 which suspends Assembly Bill 32, California’s unique Global Warming Act.  Supports of the initiative claimed that the “the official label, title and summary originally crafted by the Attorney General contained language that was ‘false,’ ‘misleading,’ and ‘prejudicial.'” Supporters say — “the judge reached the following conclusions:

“The judge found that the term ‘polluters’ had negative connotations that would give voters a false impression of entities regulated under AB 32, and ordered regulated parties to be referred to as ‘sources of emissions’ instead. The judge further opined that the term conjured up images of ‘dirty smokestacks’ which did not fairly describe the broad range of the emitters regulated under AB 32.

“The judge found that Prop. 23 would not lead to the ‘abandonment’ of the state’s global warming law, but would indeed merely ‘suspend’ its implementation, and ordered the language be changed to remove reference to ‘abandonment’ and replace it with ‘suspends implementation.’

“Importantly, the judge’s ruling makes clear that Prop. 23 only impacts AB 32-related regulations which apply only to greenhouse gas emissions associated with global warming, not state pollution laws that protect the environment and the public from smog forming emissions and those related to asthma and other health risks.”

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    This is the definitive independent site covering Governor Jerry Brown's time in public office and legacy. His appointments and staff, judicial appointments, statements, and policies and their impact on the State of California jobs, the State's economy and its people.
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