Jerry Brown

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Edmund Gerald 'Jerry' Brown, Jr.
Jerry Brown 1.jpg
Governor of California
Assumed office
January 3, 2011
Current term ends
Political party Democratic
Profession Politician
Website Official California Governor website
Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown, Jr. (born April 7, 1938, in San Francisco, California) is the current Democratic Governor of California and the former Attorney General for the state of California. In a protracted battle, he edged out Republican Meg Whitman in the 2010 election.

Brown was the Governor once before, from 1975 to 1983. He has also served as California's Secretary of State, as the Mayor of the City of Oakland, and as a 1992 hopeful for the Democratic Presidential nomination.



  • Graduated from St. Ignatius High School
  • Attended Santa Clara University
  • Attended Sacred Heart Novitiate (1958)
  • Bachelor's degree, University of California at Berkeley (1961) in classics
  • Juris Doctorate degree, Yale Law School (1964)

Professional experience

Shortly after receiving his law degree, Brown worked as a law clerk for Justice Matthew Tobriner at the California State Supreme Court. He later went on to study briefly in both Mexico and Latin America. Brown returned to the United States and was admitted to the California State Bar, after having initially failed the bar exam. He joined the Los Angeles private practice law firm of Tuttle & Taylor.

Family life

Brown currently resides near downtown Oakland, at the former Sears Roebuck Building, with his wife, Anne Gust, former chief counsel for Gap Inc.

Political career

Throughout the late-1960s, Brown was active in both state and national politics, organizing migrant workers and anti-Vietnam War groups. In 1969, he ran for his political office position on the then-newly created Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees, which oversaw community colleges in the city. Brown went on to place first in the field of one-hundred twenty-four candidates. The next year, he successfully campaigned to be Secretary of State of California. During his tenure, he brought suits against Standard Oil of California, International Telephone and Telegraph, Gulf Oil, and Mobil for violation of campaign-finance laws, often arguing in person before the California State Supreme Court, and enforcing laws requiring members of the California State Legislature to disclose sources of campaign funds. Brown played a significant role in the drafting and passage of Proposition 9 - The California Fair Political Practices Act, which established the California Fair Political Practices Commission (CFPPC). The mission of the CFPPC is to investigate alleged violations of the Political Reform Act, impose penalties when appropriate, and assist state and local agencies in developing and enforcing conflict-of-interest codes.

Governor of California

Brown was sworn into office as the Governor of California in 1975, succeeding outgoing Republican (and future President of the United States) Ronald Reagan. Strongly opposed to the Vietnam War, Brown rode into the governorship on a broad base of young liberal support. Upon election, he refused many of the privileges and trappings of the office, forgoing the grand Governor of California's Mansion, which he sold off in 1983, and instead rented a modest apartment. Instead of riding as a passenger in chauffeured limousines as previous governors had done, Brown drove himself to work in a compact sedan, a Plymouth Satellite from the state vehicle pool.

Throughout his tenure in office, Brown expressed a strong interest in environmental issues, which were to be highlighted in the state during the course of the decade. Brown's concern for the environment could seen in his appointments to state positions that directly affected it. His selections included J. Baldwin for the then-newly created California Office of Appropriate Technology, Sim Van der Ryn as State Architect, Stewart Brand as Special Advisor, and John Bryson, the CEO of Southern California Electric Company and a founding member of the Natural Resources Defense Council, chairman of the California State Water Board in 1976.

It was also in the course of his governorship that he dissolved the fifteen member California Arts Commission and reorganized it into the California Arts Council (CAC), boosting its state funding by as much as 1300 percent. This became a source of contention during the state's frequent budget crises at the turn of the century, beginning in 2001 when, under Governor Grey Davis, the CAC received $30 million from state coffers. [1] Additionally, Brown, as governor, appointed the first black (Wiley Manuel), woman (Rose Bird), and Latino (Cruz Reynoso) to the California State Supreme Court.

Brown often proposed unorthodox ideas, including the establishment of a state space academy and the purchasing of a satellite that would be launched into orbit to provide emergency communications for the state—a proposal similar to one that would indeed be adopted by the state. In 1978, Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko nicknamed Brown "Governor Moonbeam" because of the latter idea. The nickname quickly became associated with his quirky politics, which were considered eccentric by some in California and the rest of the nation. In 1992, almost 15 years later, Royko would disavow the nickname, proclaiming Brown to be "just as serious" as any other politician. He also obtained the repeal of the depletion allowance for the state's oil industry thanks in large part to the decisive vote cast in the California State Senate by Republican Robert S. Stevens. Stevens was later rewarded with a major judicial appointment, which he had to rescind after he was accused of making salacious telephone calls as a state senator.

Failed presidential campaigns

In the course of serving as Governor of California, Brown twice ran for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. The first time was in 1976 when he entered the race very late in the primary season as the focus of the movement shifted to stop the nomination of former Governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter, who many within the Democratic Party felt was unelectable and lacked the record of success needed to garner popular appeal.

Jerry Brown ran, unsuccessfully, three times for President of the United States - in 1976, 1980, and 1984

Brown touted his record of having supposedly curbed the state's spending and balanced its budget while expanding services in the area of welfare, employment, and consumer and environmental protection, Brown proclaimed his belief that there would soon be a voter backlash against expansive and costly government policies. "This is an era of limits, and we had all better get used to it," he declared. He won major victories in Maryland, Nevada, and his home state of California in the early primary ballot contests. He also garnered the support of a majority of delegates from Louisiana, the only Southern state in the course of the primary campaign to favor either Carter or Governor of Alabama George Wallace. And despite missing the deadline in Oregon, which resulted in him campaigning as a a write-in candidate, he finished a strong third behind both Carter and Senator Frank Church of Idaho. In spite of these successes, he was unable to stall Carter's momentum, and his rival was nominated on the first ballot at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Brown finished a distant third with roughly 300 delegate votes.

Brown ran for president a second time in 1980. Even with the high level of anticipation his candidacy amassed, particularly in light of his re-election victory in the state of California's gubernatorial contest by 1.3 million votes, the largest margin of victory for a candidate in the state's history, his presidential campaign failed to gain any traction. Many believed this was largely due to the more prominent candidacy of Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and the prestige his family name brought to the campaign.

His promise to, in his words, "Protect the Earth, serve the people, and explore the universe," served as his slogan. The three main planks of his presidential campaign platform included a call for a constitutional convention to ratify the Balanced Budget Amendment, a promise to increase federal funds for the space program, and, in the wake of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, opposition to nuclear power. Brown also made a number of unconventional proposals as well, such as calling for a sharp increase of federal funding for solar power research, endorsing the idea of mandatory non-military national service for the nation's youth, and promising to support a market-oriented system of universal health care.

Support for his campaign among average American Democrats quickly eroded as more and more members of the what conservative commentators called "fringe", such as Jane Fonda, Tom Hayden, and Jesse Jackson, among others, joined his cause. Following his disastrous showing in the New Hampshire primary, in which he able to receive ten percent of the vote, he was forced to announce that his candidacy hinged on a good showing in the Wisconsin primary. An ill-timed attempt at filming a live, special effects-filled, thirty-minute commercial, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, was a disaster and ultimately doomed his candidacy. He walked away from the campaign having received just twelve percent of the vote in the Wisconsin primary. Despite having entered the race far earlier then his original attempt at the presidential office, his second effort resulted in him having spent $2 million while winning no primaries and receiving only one delegate at the Democratic National Convention.

Failed Senate campaign

Rather then seek a third term as Governor of California, Brown allotted to run for the United States Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican S. I. Hayakawa. His alleged mishandling of a medfly infestation of the state's fruit farms torpedoed his campaign, resulting in him being defeated by Republican Pete Wilson in the general election by a margin of 51 to 45 percent. Republican George Deukmejian succeeded Brown as governor in 1982. Many considered Brown's political career to be over at this point.

State DNC chairmanship

After briefly studying abroad, Brown returned to California and successfully ran for the chairmanship of the state's Democratic Party in 1989, defeating the less experienced Steve Westly. Even though during his tenure he had greatly expanded the party's donor base and enlarged its coffers, he was criticized for not spending enough money on television advertisements, which many within the state party contributed for close Democratic losses in 1990. Brown abruptly resigned from the chairmanship in early 1991 and announced he would seek the United States Senate seat left open following the retirement of Democratic Senator Alan Cranston. In spite of consistent polls numbers, he abandoned his senatorial campaign in favor of a third attempt at the presidency.

Third presidential campaign

In the wake of his announcement declaring his candidacy for president on the steps of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, many within both the mainstream news outlets and the Democratic Party itself dismissed his campaign as nothing short of an ego-trip with little, if any, chance of gaining legit support worthy of significance in the primary contest. Ignoring his critics, Brown, correctly gauging the anti-establishment viewpoint of many voters that year, joined Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot who all enjoyed surprisingly successful presidential campaigns. He embarked on an ultra-grassroots campaign - declaring that he would only accept individual campaign contributions of $100 or less - the likes of which would not be seen within the Democratic Party until the early days of Governor of Vermont Howard Dean's ultimately unsuccessful presidential bid.

He made a number of populist-based promises in the midst of the campaign, including calls for term limits for members of Congress, living wage laws, and opposition to free-trade agreements such as NAFTA. Brown joined with economist and former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer in drafting his tax proposal, which called for the replacement of the progressive income tax with a flat tax and a value added tax, both at a fixed rate of thirteen percent. Despite criticism from his opponents that his policy was regressive, it received the endorsement of major media outlets such as The New York Times, The New Republic, and Forbes.

Democratic Primary Results: Blue denotes a Clinton win, yellow a Brown win, green a Tsongas win, orange a Kerrey win, and purple a Harkin win

Faced with a relatively shoe-string campaign budget, Brown bucked conventional advertising practices, choosing instead to use an unusual fundraising techniques, such as a toll-free telephone number that adorned all of his campaign material, and a mixture of alternative media that included cable and radio interviews being used in lieu of traditional television commercials in order to get his message out to voters.

In spite of poor showings in the Iowa caucus, in which he received a mere 1.6 percent of the vote, and the New Hampshire primary, which secured him only eight percent, Brown was soon able to manage narrow victories in Maine, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska, and Vermont. Nonetheless, he continued to be considered a long shot for much of the campaign. It was not until shortly after Super Tuesday, when the Democratic primary field had been narrowed to Brown, former Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, and frontrunner Governor Bill Clinton, that Brown began to emerge as a serious contender in the eyes of the mainstream media.

Senator Tsongas was forced out of the race on March 17 after Brown received a strong third-place showing in the Illinois primary and then defeated the senator for second place in the Michigan primary by a significant margin. Within one week, Brown had cemented his position as a major threat to Clinton's candidacy when he eked out a narrow win the bitterly-contested Connecticut primary. This, however, was short lived after Clinton pulled out victories in both Wisconsin and New York on April 7.

Although Brown continued to campaign in a number of other states, he won no further primary contests. Despite this, he had secured a sizable number of convention delegates. A big win in his home state of California he believed would deprive Clinton of sufficient support to guarantee the nomination, which would then result in a brokered convention. After nearly a month of intense campaigning and multiple debates between the two candidates, Clinton managed to defeat Brown in this final primary by a margin of 48% to 41%. At the Democratic National Convention, Brown received the votes of 596 delegates on the first ballot, more than any other candidate save for Clinton.

Radio show host

Beginning in 1995, Brown hosted a daily call-in talk show on the local Pacifica Radio station, KPFA-FM, in Berkeley, California. Both the radio program and Brown's political action organization, based in Oakland, were called We the People. His programs, usually featuring invited guests, generally explored alternative views on a wide range of social and political issues, from education and health care to spirituality and the death penalty. He strongly critiqued both the Democratic and Republican parties, often referring to himself as a "recovering politician."

Mayor of Oakland, Jerry Brown

Mayor of Oakland

In early 1998, Brown announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party and changed his party registration to "Decline To State."He terminated his radio show that same year in order to run for Mayor of Oakland. He won the general election contest in June 1998 and seven months later was sworn into office. Within just a few short weeks, he drew the ire of the far left after he invited the United States Marine Corps to stage their war games, titled Urban Warrior, in the defunct Oakland Army Base and on the closed grounds of the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital after the National Park Service rejected the Marines' request to use Crissy Field in San Francisco. Also during his tenure he was able to get the approval of the electorate to convert Oakland's weak mayor political structure (the mayor as chairman of the city council and official greeter) to a strong mayor structure (the mayor as chief executive over the nonpolitical city manager and thus the various city departments and not a council member). This strong mayor structure in many ways is similar to that of the nearby city of San Francisco. Other efforts including acquiring millions of dollars in state and federal funding to open two charter schools that are now among the top-ranked in Oakland. Brown was re-elected with over 60 percent of the vote in 2002.

In 2003, Brown and fellow Democratic Mayor Jim Hahn of Los Angeles praised Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his decisive actions regarding the suppression of the reinstitution of portions the vehicle license fee (labeled by opponents as the car tax) and some restoration of state funding for city governments, implying that Gray Davis (who had been Governor Brown's Chief of Staff in the 1970s) had acted poorly in this regard.

Attorney general

In early 2004, Brown expressed his interest to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Attorney General of California in the 2006 election. On May 18, 2004, he formally filed the necessary papers to begin his campaign for the nomination, including a sworn declaration with the statement "I meet the statutory and constitutional qualifications for this office (including, but not limited to, citizenship, residency, and party affiliation, if required)."

Brown had an active Democratic primary opponent, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. Delgadillo put most of his money into TV ads attacking Brown and spent $4.1 million on the primary campaign. Regardless, Brown easily defeated Delgadillo, 63% to 37%. [2] In the general election, Brown defeated Republican State Senator Charles Poochigian 56.3% to 38.2%, which was the largest margin of victory in any statewide race except in the United States Senate in which Dianne Feinstein's opponent did not mount a strong challenge. [3]

2010 gubernatorial campaign

See also: California gubernatorial election, 2010

Although he filed official paperwork with the Secretary of State Office in late-September 2009 to start an exploratory committee, usually the first step in launching a formal campaign, Brown had yet to make his entry into the state's 2010 gubernatorial contest official as late as February 2010. [4] And in spite of the passage of California Proposition 140, which, among other things, imposes a lifelong ban against anyone seeking the same office once the limits have been reached, Brown's candidacy is not effected on the basis that the amendment does not apply to former governors who served prior to its passage in 1990.

Jerry Brown 2010 Campaign logo

In January 2010, Brown said that whoever is elected, they face a challenging term in office: ""The state is profoundly screwed up, and anybody who thinks they got an idea, I would say, 'Give me a call, I'd like to listen to it.' Because I can tell you we're in for blood, sweat and tears over the next four years no matter who runs." [5]

A Rasmussen poll published in mid-February 2010 showed that in a head-to-head matchup the California gubernatorial contest in November between Brown and the likely Republican nominee, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, would be a virtual dead heat with each candidate garnering forty-three percent. The survey, however, also points out that six percent of those interviewed selected other primary candidates and eight percent were undecided, leaving plenty of opportunity for either major party candidate to take the lead. [6]

On Tuesday, March 2, 2010, Brown finally announced on his website that he was officially entering the 2010 California gubernatorial election contest. [7] Over a month later, Rasmussen, whose survey two months earlier had shown a virtual dead heat between Whitman and Brown, released polling data that placed the State Attorney General with a six-point margin of victory over his likely Republican challenger. However, nine percent of those interviewed chose a different candidate other then Brown and Whitman while another nine percent remained undecided. [8]



See also: Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Throughout his tenure as Governor of California, Brown repeatedly singled out the embattled liberal political organization, ACORN, for praise, saying, "[I]n this job I spend my time calling on that same network of community organizers that has been there right along…When I talk to people about community programs, I want to talk to the people from ACORN and Fair Share and Mass Advocacy -- all the community groups that I've known over a period of years." [9]

In June 2001, Brown, as mayor of Oakland, worked closely with both ACORN and ACORN Housing on an anti-predatory lending campaign called "Don't Borrow Trouble."

The June 2008 Survey and Scorecard report published by ACORN gave Brown an A letter grade. The report was published to shine the spotlight on state attorneys general "leading the fight to protect homeowners from joining the flood of Americans losing their homes to foreclosure," so says the group. [10] The grade distributed to the individual attorneys general "generally broke down along party lines," with the exception of Louisiana's Buddy Caldwell. [11]

In September 2009, conservative investigative journalists James O'Keefe and Hanna Giles posed as a pimp and a prostitute and secretly videotaped conversations with ACORN employees. Reps in various offices across the country, including the San Diego branch office where Juan Carlos Vera worked, counseled the pair on how to set up a brothel for young girls, barely thirteen years of age, from El Salvador. When asked how such an operation should be reported to the IRS, several individuals supplied the needed information. Following the release of the tapes, Vera was fired. A month later, Brown's office announced it was opening an inquest into both ACORN and the circumstances under which the political action group was videotaped. California Penal Code Section 632 prohibits the recording of 'confidential communications' without consent. California is one of twelve states that require notification of both parties prior to recording. In 1989, a California State appellate court ruled that "this statute applies to the use of hidden video cameras to record conversations as well." [12]

ACORN official David Lagstein, speaking to the East County Democrat club on October 15 about the California Attorney General Jerry Brown's investigation, seemed to suggest the fix was in. [13] He assured supporters, saying, "The attorney general is a political animal, but certainly every bit of the communication we have had with them has suggested that the fault will be found with the people that did the video and not the people with ACORN." [14]

Ballot titles

In October 2009, Brown was accused of re-writing the ballot title for the California Continuous Coverage Auto Insurance Discount Act (2010) in a way that is more advantageous to that initiative after receiving a $13,000 campaign contribution from Mercury Insurance, its main sponsor. [15]

Caryl Chessman

Jerry Brown at the California State Democratic Convention in March 2008

In 1960, Brown personally appealed his father, Edmund G. Brown Sr., then Governor of California, to spare the life of death row inmate Caryl Chessman, known as the Red Light Bandit, and reportedly won him a sixty-day stay of execution. [16]

Chessman had an extensive criminal record prior to his final conviction that garnered him the death penalty, which resulted in him spending most of his adult life behind bars. Shortly after being briefly paroled from prison, Chessman was arrested in Los Angeles and accused of being the "Red Light Bandit", a criminal who would follow people in their cars to secluded areas, flash a red light that tricked them into believing he was a police officer and then rob and, in the case of several women, brutally rape them. "One of those victims remained in a schizophrenic state" for the rest of Chessman's life. [17] He was ultimately convicted in July 1948 of seventeen counts of robbery, kidnapping, and rape and was sentenced to death under the state's version of the Federal Kidnapping Act.

Over the course of ten years, Chessman, acting as his own attorney, filed dozens of appeals, which allocated him eight stays of execution. Throughout both the initial trial and the appeals process, Chessman made a number of accusations while at the same time vigorously asserting his innocence, suggesting that a larger conspiracy seeking to frame him for a crime he did not commit was at stake and even insisting at times that he knew the identity of the real culprit, though he repeatedly refused to name him. In his autobiography, Cell 2455, Death Row, which he wrote in prison, he implied that he had killed a man, though he was never charged nor convicted of the crime. It was during his appeal process that he became a cause célèbre for the movement to ban capital punishment.

CEI rating

In an analysis of state attorneys general published in July 2010, Brown was named "The Nation's Worst Attorney General" by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. Basing their criteria on dubious dealings, fabricating law, usurping legislative power, and predatory practices, the California Attorney General, who at the time of the publication was a gubernatorial candidate, received a letter grade of F in all four categories. CEI accused Brown his responsibility as state attorney general to defend all state laws against constitutional challenges "by picking and choosing which laws to defend, and even seeking to undermine those he disagreed with," such as Proposition 8. [18]

Crime rate in Oakland

The murder rate in Oakland in the first two months of 2006 was triple what it was during the same time period the year before. [19] Two years later, the CQ Press annual report ranked Oakland the fifth-highest crime rate among U.S. cities in 2007. [20] These statistics have led critics to suggest that Brown had failed as mayor to make the city safer. [21]

Cuba trip

Nearly a week after Meg Whitman, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in California, was dealt a political setback with allegations over her dismissal of a maid who was an illegal resident in the United States, State Attorney General Jerry Brown faced a scandal of his own involving the Latino community. According to allegations, a July 2000 political junket that Jerry Brown, who at the time was Mayor of Oakland, and his staff took to Cuba was in violation of America's sanctions against the Communist dictatorship. The purpose of the trip was to formalize Oakland's sister-city status with Santiago de Cuba. [22] While Brown's trip has been a matter of public record for a decade, the fresh attention it is receiving comes from an article, published in The Daily Beast and the San Francisco Chronicle, detailing Brown's movements on the island and reporting snippets of conversation. [23] [24]

Now, reports are saying Brown's entire trip was set up by a former CIA agent who became a double agent for Cuba before defecting to the island. Phillip Agee, a CIA expert on Latin America in the 1960s, divulged the names of hundred of American agents before fleeing the United States in the mid-1970s; many in America's intelligence community believe information he divulged led to at least one murder. [25] MI6, Britain's intelligence agency, also connects the assassinations of two of their agents in Poland to Agee's leaked info. [26] After setting up in Havana, he reinvented himself as a travel agent, and eventually came to count Jerry Brown as a client. [27] Agee was candid about his ambitions for his "Cubalinda" travel agency: "Well, I would like to see people ignore the law, that is to the degree the law doesn't have any meaning anymore." Agee also admitted that he was instructing his American clients to make payments through European accounts to skirt regulations on U.S. travel to Cuba. Of Agee's services, Brown allegedly said, he's "a very good travel everything done...he’s quite a guy.” [23]

At the time of Brown's excursion, Agee's U.S. passport had long been revoked and his travel agency was not on the list of OFAC's approved businesses. OFAC, the Office of Foreign Asset Control, operates under the auspices of the U.S. Treasury, whose approval is legally required before American citizens may travel to Cuba. U.S. Sanctions against Cuba fall under the "Trading with the Enemy Act" and are specifically enumerated in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations, 31 CFR Part 515. According to OFAC guidelines for travel to Cuba, "Unless authorized by a general or specific license, any person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who engages in any Cuba travel-related transaction violates the Regulations." [28]

Elaine Brown

Elaine Brown was placed in charge of both the Black Power Movement and the Black Panther Party when their founder, Huey P. Newton, was indicted for murder and fled for Cuba in 1974. She was implicated in the murder of "Betty Van Patter, a bookkeeper who had been hired to straighten out the ledgers of the Oakland Community Learning Center, an East Oakland ghetto school that was funded and staffed by Panther members and affiliates." [29] After reporting irregularities within the books, Patter disappeared; her body washed up on the shore of the San Francisco Bay five weeks later. It was determined that she had been raped and then bludgeoned to death. In 1976, Elaine served as a delegate for Jerry Brown at the Democratic National Convention. Upon Newton's return to the United States in 1977, she left the Black Panther Party and fled to Paris for short time.


In the final weeks leading up to the State Attorney General election in 2006, Brown's eligibility as a candidate was questioned by his Republican challenger, Contra Costa County Republican Central Committee chairman and state GOP vice-chair candidate Tom Del Beccaro. Citing California Government Code §12503, which states that "no person shall be eligible to the office of Attorney General unless he shall have been admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the state for a period of at least five years immediately preceding his election or appointment to such office," Republican plantiffs in the case argued that Brown did not meet these basic requirements. [30] Since passing the bar exam in June 1965, "Brown on several occasions over the past four decades failed to renew his membership and was rendered inactive," renewing it just three years prior to entering the state attorney general contest. [31] The case was eventually thrown out after the court acknowledged that although he was ineligible to practice law because of his voluntary 'inactive status' in the State Bar of California from January 1, 1997 to May 1, 2003, he was nevertheless still "admitted to practice." [32]

Fairness Doctrine

Speaking with conservative talk-radio host Michael Savage in an interview conducted in mid-February 2009, Brown, who at that point had yet to declare his candidacy in the state's gubernatorial race, that he favored the reintroduction of the Fairness Doctrine in order to present a "balanced" view on controversial political issues. The Fairness Doctrine, first instated by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949, requires holders of broadcast licenses to both present key political issues essential to the public's understanding and to do so in a manner that - in the opinion of the Commission - is honest, equitable, and balanced. Conservatives and Libertarians alike have been sharply critical of this policy as they deem it to be an infringement on freedom of the press as stated in the First Amendment. Furthermore, critics argue, the Fairness Doctrine can be wielded as a political weapon by either the executive or legislative branch of the federal government, whether it is Democratic or Republican, to silence dissent and quash opposition to the policies of the party in power. Brown likely did not do his future gubernatorial campaign any favors in swaying wayward conservative voters to his side when he remarked that ""a little state control wouldn't hurt anybody." [33]

Frugality claim

Brown has frequently boasted about his frugality when he first became Governor of California; he has spun this narrative not just during the course of his latest attempt at the state governorship, but also during other campaigns as well. He reminds California voters, whose state faced a $19 billion budget deficit, that he chose to live in a rented apartment rather then the governor's mansion. Since that time, however, Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, have purchased "a custom-designed, $1.8 million house in one of the San Francisco Bay area's most prestigious neighborhoods," Oak Hills; the original price was listed at $2.68 million. [34] Political strategists warn that Brown, who has made the fortune of his Republican gubernatorial opponent, Meg Whitman, an issue so far in the campaign, is in danger of being misleading.

Goebbels remark

In an chance interview with KCBS reporter Doug Sovern prior to the June 8, 2010 statewide primary, having completed a jog in Oakland, Brown was questioned about how he planned to compete financial with Meg Whitman, former CEO and president of eBay, once she had officially locked up the Republican nomination for governor. The California Attorney General remarked that he over $2 million in the bank to spend on his campaign, having spent barely $200,000 during the course of his brief and relatively unambitious primary race. Sovern noted that Whitman had spent $71 million of her own money on the primary contest and was more then willing to shell out $80 million more to combat Brown's efforts. In response, Brown awkwardly stated that "“You know, by the time she’s done with me, two months from now, I’ll be a child-molesting…”, only to trail off. He then chastised Whitman's political ambitions, comparing her to Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, arguing, "he took control of the whole world. She wants to be president. That’s her ambition, the first woman president. That’s what this is all about.” [35] [36]

The day after these remarks were made, Whitman's gubernatorial campaign called Brown out for reneging on his campaign promise not to engage in political mudslinging. Though admitting the conversation did take place, Brown's campaign asserted that the Democratic gubernatorial candidate's comments were taken out of context. [37]

Jesse Jackson

At a time when the former-Governor of California appeared ahead in the polls for both the New York and Wisconsin contests in the midst of the 2002 Democratic Presidential Primary campaign, Brown committed what some consider to be a significant gaffe, one that might well have cost him the party nomination. He announced to an audience of various leaders of New York City's Jewish community that, if nominated, he would consider the Reverend Jesse Jackson as his vice-presidential candidate. During the course of his campaign for president in 1984, Jackson made a pair of anti-Semitic remarks in which he "referred to Jews as 'Hymies' and to New York City as 'Hymietown'." [38] On April 7, Brown lost narrowly to Bill Clinton in Wisconsin (37-34), and dramatically to the former-Governor of Arkansas in New York (41-26).


Brown also had a long friendship with Lorenzo Jacques Barzaghi, his aide-de-camp, whom he met in the early 1970s and put on his payroll. Barzaghi lived with Brown in the warehouse in Jack London Square, and was brought into Oakland city government upon Brown's election as mayor, where Barzaghi first acted as the mayor's armed bodyguard. Brown later awarded Barzaghi with city jobs, including "Arts Director." Brown dismissed Barzaghi in July 2004.

Norman Hsu affair

In addition to receiving a $3,000 political contribution from an associate of Norman Hsu, a lawsuit filed against Hsu by an Orange County investment company alleged that Brown had praised Hsu at a 2006 Democratic Party event. [39] Brown's spokesman denied the accusation. He argued that while Brown may have stopped briefly at the event, he did not, however, praise Hsu "or in any way vouch for him." [40]

California Attorney General Brown's office played a critical role in events surrounding prominent Democratic Party fundraiser Norman Hsu in 2007. Hsu had voluntarily returned to California in response to a 1992 warrant for failing to appear for sentencing in a fraud conviction. [41] Brown's office negotiated a fifty-percent reduction in bail with Hsu's attorneys, but the court roundly rejected the agreement and imposed the full $2 million bail specified in the arrest warrant. [42] Additionally, Brown's office did not challenge releasing Hsu on bail without turning in his passport. Shortly after being released on bail, Hsu fled the state with his passport. [43] Hsu was quickly apprehended by federal authorities at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado. [44]

Proposition 8

See also: California Proposition 8 (2008)

Though the attorney general of a state normally argues in support of laws that have been passed by the electorate, Brown has taken the unusual, and extremely controversial, step of declining to defend Proposition 8, a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution that banned same-sex marriage. Filing his own legal challenge against the amendment, Brown came to the conclusion that Proposition 8 "deprives people of the right to marry, an aspect of liberty that the Supreme Court has concluded is guaranteed by the California Constitution." [45] [46]

On May 26, 2009, the California State Supreme Court surprisingly voted 6-1 to uphold Proposition 8 on state constitutional grounds.

In spite of this ruling, however, Brown continues to oppose defending the law, arguing in front of a federal court that the initiative "violates federal due process and equal protection guarantees" promised in the Fourteenth Amendment. [47]

Proposition 13

See also: California Proposition 13 (1978)

Critics argue that Brown's administration as Governor of California bares partial responsibility for the creation of the economic conditions that prompted state voters to heavily favor the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978. Specifically, he is said to have amassed a large surplus in state coffers instead of cutting taxes, leading to the state's infamous tax rebellion, the Jarvis Gann initiative (Proposition 13) which halted increases in property taxes for both homeowners and corporations that held onto their property. [48] However, even with the passage of Proposition 13, "state spending increased by nearly 120 percent during the Brown years after" it became state law. [49]

State public employee pension

Brown stole the California political spotlight in late-July 2010 when he laid into the governmental employees of Bell, a city located outside Los Angeles that is one of the poorest in the state, after the Los Angeles Times "reported that the city manager makes almost $800K a year and stands to receive a pension worth $30 million." [50] He called the outlandish salaries "shocking and beyond belief" and called for a full scale investigation into the matter. [51] As a state public employee himself, however, local political watchdog groups question whether Brown's words and actions in this regard are a bit hypocritical.

Overseen by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, also known as CalPERS, the Legislators' Retirement System (LRS), established in 1947, operates as a special pension program for elected constitutional officers, legislative statutory officers, and members of the state legislature prior to November 7, 1990. The LRS operated in relative obscurity until the passage of Proposition 140 in 1990, which limited the number of terms that California state senators and representatives can stay in office and, perhaps most importantly in regards to this issue, eliminated pensions for state lawmakers. As a result, only thirteen working public officials are members of the independent pension program. Still, even in light of this attempt at local governmental reform, the law "prevents" either CalPERS or LRS from answering questions pertaining to specific members.

In spite of this obstacle, the Orange County Watchdog combed through the LRS actuarial statements and found an individual who matches Jerry Brown's age and salary. If this is indeed Jerry Brown, there appears to be a discrepancy in the records according to the Watchdog. The LRS has this person listed as having served twenty-five to twenty-nine years in public office; again, if this is Brown, he should only have sixteen years of service. Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for the Brown gubernatorial campaign, claims that neither he nor the attorney general's office know what is going on here. He did, however, note that Brown "started receiving an annual pension of about $20,000 when he turned 60 in 1998 and pocketed it every year until he assumed the attorney general’s office, when it was suspended." [52] What is at issue here is tens of thousands of state taxpayer dollars - if he served sixteen years, Brown's annual LRS pension salary would come to $73,720; if, however, it was twenty-five years or more, as LRS actuarial statements appear to suggest, it would be $110,580. This comes to a difference of $36,860.

Whore comment

A private conversation that was inadvertently recorded via a voicemail message machine shows Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown supposedly willing to slander his Republican opponent, Meg Whitman, as a "whore" after she announced she would "exempt public safety officials from key parts of her pension reform plan," something the State Attorney General has refused to do. [53] The controversial comment came after Brown telephoned the Los Angeles Police Protective League and left a voicemail message requesting their endorsement in the gubernatorial contest. Brown, believing he had hung up the phone, then engaged in a conversation with his campaign aides, venting his frustration that his refusal to concede to an exemption for police officers in his state pension reform proposal could cost him their endorsements. When the repartee turned to the discussion of releasing an advertisement blasting Whitman for this compromise, an aide interjects by asking if they should say that she is a whore. Brown, in response, said, "Whore. Well, I am going to use that." [54] While acknowledging the conversation took place, a spokesman for the Brown campaign argued that the gubernatorial candidate "was responding to the notion of accusing Whitman of cutting a deal to gain endorsements, not to the use of the word ‘whore,’" though the tape itself seems to suggest otherwise. [55]

William Bonin

Between August 5, 1979 and June 2, 1980, William George Bonin, also known as The Freeway Killer, tortured, raped and killed a minimum of twenty-one teenage boys, and is suspected of having committed a further fifteen. Following a tip from an acquaintance of Bonin's, he was placed under surveillance by the police on June 2, 1980, and was in turn arrested nine days later in the midst of assaulting a fifteen-year-old named Harold T. While in police custody, Bonin confessed to to abducting, raping, and killing at least twenty-one young boys and named Vernon Butts as his primary accomplice in six of those murders. Bonin expressed no remorse for his crimes and admitted to a reporter that if he were still at large "I'd still be killing, I couldn't stop killing. It got easier each time." On January 11, 1982, Bonin was convicted on ten counts of murder and given the death penalty. Nearly sixteen years after he was finally apprehended, Bonin was executed via lethal injection at San Quentin State Prison on February 23, 1996.

Brown remarked on his radio program that it was "not okay even to kill guilty people." He used the example of William Bonin to accuse "Californians of engaging in a 'Nazi-style' execution" and believed that the practice of capital punishment would transform California into "Hitler's Germany." [56]

Political issues


Sen. Tony Strickland blasted Democrats in June 2011 for not committing the recently discovered $6.6 billion additional state tax revenues to public safety and education. Public safety and education groups are the two in the state claiming to be hit the hardest with cuts. Strickland said it does not appear the money was spent wisely.

“Democrats would like to claim that this budget is about public safety and education,” Strickland said. “Let’s be clear: You can make no mistake that this budget is not about protecting public safety or education. If you extend these taxes, it’s going to mean more people out of work at a time when people can least afford it. If you vote for this, it will actually be a full year of tax increases even if people in September vote it down.”

In 2011, Republicans blocked the passage of a tax bill requiring a two-thirds vote (AB X1 18).

Immediately following the failed tax vote, Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg brought up a bill (SB 1X 23) that housed his local taxation bill (SB 653) and would allow local governments to bring local tax opportunities to a vote.

“I believe that it is another club to use over Republicans and our constituencies, saying, if you don’t do this bridge tax, if you don’t raise the taxes of people that have already said no, then we are going to have all these different taxes,” said Republican Sen. Bob Huff.

However Steinberg and other Democrats said they planned to allow local governments to fund their own public programs, especially if Republicans and voters rejected the tax extensions in 2011. Senate Bill 653 was a bargaining tool to get Republicans to go along with Jerry Brown’s tax extensions.

Under SB 653, local governments could pass local taxes increases on not just goods and services, but also on income taxes. In the course of the 2011 session, Democrats said they would create a local car tax, additional business taxes, property taxes and many different excise taxes on cigarettes, liquor, soda and even locally sold medical marijuana.[57]

Campaign contributions

2006 Race for Attorney General - Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $8,268,057
Total Raised by Primary Opponent $4,958,614
Total Raised by Gen. Election Opponent $5,587,587
Top 5 Contributors California DNC $62,721 (0.76% of Total)
AT&T $27,300 (0.33%)
Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 467/UA $22,200 (0.27%)
California Faculty Association $22,200 (0.27%)
California State Council of Service Employees/SEIU $22,200 (0.27%)
Individuals v. Institutions $4,363,724 (52.8%)
$3,351,235 (40.5%)
In v. Outside State $6,840,811 (87.4%)
$985,596 (12.6%)



2006 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary [2]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Jerry Brown 63.3%
     Democratic Party Rocky Delgadillo 36.7%
Total Votes 2,456,498
2006 Race for Attorney General - General Election [3]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Jerry Brown 56.3%
     Republican Party Chuck Poochigian 38.2%
     Green Party Michael S. Wyman 2.3%
     Libertarian Party Kenneth A. Weissman 2.1%
     Peace and Freedom Party Jack Harrison 1.1%
Total Votes 8,450,009


See also: California gubernatorial election, 2010

For several months after filing official paperwork with the Secretary of State's Office to establish an exploratory committee in late-September 2009, Brown refused to formally commit to a third gubernatorial campaign. [58] [4] However, on Tuesday, March 2, 2010, Brown finally announced on his website that he was officially entering the 2010 California gubernatorial election contest. [7]

2010 Race for Governor - Democratic Primary [59]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Jerry Brown 84.4%
     Democratic Party Richard William Aguirre 4.0%
     Democratic Party Charles "Chuck" Pineda, Jr. 4.0%
     Democratic Party Vibert Greene 2.3%
     Democratic Party Joe Symmon 2.3%
     Democratic Party Lowell Darling 1.6%
     Democratic Party Peter Schurman 1.4%
Total Votes 2,395,287
2010 Race for Governor - General Election
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Jerry Brown 53.4%
     Republican Party Meg Whitman 41.5%
     American Independent Party Chelene Nightengale 1.6%
     Libertarian Party Dale Ogden 1.5%
     Green Party Laura Wells 1.2%
     Peace and Freedom Party Carlos Alvarez 0.8%
Total Votes 8,085,908

See also

External links


  1. Los Angeles Times "California is last in arts funding — as usual" 12 Feb. 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 CA Secretary of State: Vote 2006 - Primary Election Results
  3. 3.0 3.1 CA Secretary of State: Vote 2006 - General Election Results
  4. 4.0 4.1 Huffington Post "Jerry Brown Governor's Run: California Attorney General Files Exploratory Papers" 29 Sept. 2009
  5. Sacramento Bee "Jerry Brown takes off gloves, dings Gavin Newsom" 28 Jan. 2010
  6. Rasmussen Reports "California Governor: Brown 43%, Whitman 43%" 16 Feb. 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 YouTube "Jerry Brown Announcement Video" 2 March, 2010
  8. Rasmussen Reports "California Governor: Brown 44%, Whitman 38%" 21 April, 2010
  9. The American Spectator "ACORN's Moonbeam" 19 Nov. 2009
  10. ACORN "Attorneys General Take Action: Real Leadership in Fighting Foreclosures" June 2008
  11. Majority in Mississippi "Jim Hood Received An “A” From ACORN In 2008" 17 Sept. 2009
  12. Citizen Media Law Project - California Recording Law
  13. Big Government "Exclusive: Audio From ACORN Claims Jerry Brown Will Whitewash Investigation" 10 Nov. 2009
  14. Maggie's Notebook "Jerry Brown ACORN: Jerry Brown David Lagstein ACORN Organizer: AG Jerry Brown Find Fault with Videographers?" 10 Nov. 2009
  15. San Francisco Chronicle "Jerry Brown accused of caving in to donor" 29 Oct. 2009
  16. New York Times "He Was Their Last Resort" 20 Aug. 1989
  17. Sultan Knish "Caryl Chessman and the Triumph of Evil" 8 April, 2007
  18. Competitive Enterprise Institute "Issue Analysis: The Nation’s Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General" 12 July, 2010
  19. ABC7 (KGO-TV) "Oakland's Murder Rate Is Soaring" 11 July, 2006
  20. Free Republic "Survey: Oakland has fifth-highest crime rate in country" 25 Nov. 2008
  21. San Francisco Chronicle "Killings take big toll on Oakland" 25 Nov. 2002
  22. San Francisco Chronicle "Jerry Brown Dines With Castro" 29 July, 2000
  23. 23.0 23.1 The Daily Beast "Jerry Brown's Castro Trouble" 5 Oct. 2010
  24. San Francisco Chronicle "Jerry Brown Broke the Law on Visit with Fidel" 5 Oct. 2010
  25. Washington Post "Philip Agee, 72; Agent Who Turned Against CIA" 10 Jan. 2008
  26. The Guardian "The spy who stayed out in the cold" 10 Jan. 2007
  27. CNN "Former CIA agent attempts to draw U.S. tourists to Cuba over Internet" 25 June, 2000
  28. U.S Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control "An Overview of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations" last updated September 3, 2009, accessed October 6, 2010
  29. Discover the Networks - Elaine Brown
  30. Law and Legal Research - California Government Code Section 12503
  31. Los Angeles Times "Suit Challenges Brown's Eligibility for Top Law Job" 20 Oct. 2006
  32. Metropolitan News-Enterprise "Editorial: GOP Volunteers Disgrace Party by Opposition to Kennard, Suit Against Brown" 23 Oct. 2006
  33. World Net Daily "Top Democrat spills beans on revival of 'Fairness Doctrine'" 14 Feb. 2009
  34. Breitbart "Brown's tale of frugality omits $1.8 million home" 22 June, 2010
  35. Sovern Nation: The Blog "Run Jerry Run" 9 June, 2010
  36. Hot Air "Brown: Whitman is like Goebbels for having political ambitions, or something" 11 June, 2010
  37. Sovern Nation: The Blog "Statements From Whitman and Brown Campaigns" 10 June, 2010
  38. Washington Post "Jesse Jackson's 'Hymietown' Remark – 1984" Nov. 1998
  39. Follow the Money - Contributions to Brown, Jerry From Paw, Winkle
  40. Los Angeles Times "O.C. suit accuses fundraiser Hsu of $23-million fraud" 22 Sept. 2007
  41. Los Angeles Times "Democratic fundraiser is a fugitive in plain sight" 29 Aug. 2007
  42. Associated Press "Top Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu in custody after turning himself in" 31 Aug. 2007
  43. Los Angeles Times "Democratic donor skips day in court" 6 Sept. 2007
  44. Hot Air "Breaking: Norman Hsu captured in Colorado; Update: Hospitalized after falling ill on train; Update: “Delirious”" 7 Sept. 2007
  45. Los Angeles Times "AG Jerry Brown, Prop. 8 defender. now seeks ban on same same-sex marriage ban" 19 Dec. 2008
  46. Time Magazine "Jerry Brown Reverses Course on Gay Marriage" 23 Dec. 2008
  47. Los Angeles Times "Jerry Brown again says Prop. 8 should be struck down" 13 June, 2009
  48. YouTube "Enough is Enough!" 5 April, 2010
  49. Fact Check "Jerry Brown: ‘A Legacy of Failure?’" 1 July, 2010
  50. CalWatchDog "Bell tolls for greedy officials" 26 July, 2010
  51. The Orange County Register "Attorney general, CalPERS to probe public salaries, pensions" 23 July, 2010
  52. The Orange County Register "The mystery of Jerry Brown’s pension" 13 Aug. 2010
  53. Los Angeles Times "An associate of Jerry Brown calls Meg Whitman a "whore" over pension reform (AUDIO)" 7 Oct. 2010
  54. Real Clear Politics "Jerry Brown Agrees Whitman A "Whore" Over Pension Battle?" 7 Oct. 2010
  55. FOX News "Recording Captures Brown Camp Calling Whitman a 'Whore'" 8 Oct. 2010
  56. California Chronicle "Remarks by Senator Chuck Poochigan at the California Republican Party Convention" 21 Aug. 2006
  57. "Bridge Tax Fails; Local Tax Passes," June 13, 2010
  58. CNN "Schneider: Jerry Brown for California governor?" 18 April, 2009
  59. California Secretary of State - 2010 Statewide Primary Election Results
Political offices
Preceded by
H.P. Sullivan
California Secretary of State
Succeeded by
March Fong Eu
Preceded by
Ronald Reagan
Governor of California
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George Deukmejian
Preceded by
Elihu Harris
Mayor of Oakland, California
Succeeded by
Ronald V. Dellums
Preceded by
Bill Lockyer
California Attorney General
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Kamala Harris
Preceded by
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Governor of California
Succeeded by