Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown slammed the CalChamber’s attack ads targeting him Thursday, saying they’re evidence that Chamber board member Pete Wilson — the former governor who chairs Meg Whitman’s campaign — "carries a real grudge, and he’s very much in this battle.
"I don’t know what he did on the Chamber, but he certainly has a lot of friends there,” the State Attorney General said of Wilson and the CalChamber on KGO radio today. "And they cooked this thing up in a small little group — and the rest of the board members are pretty angry about it."
Brown said that Wilson’s involvement at the Chamber is one of many lingering questions that have been raised about the campaign for which the CalChamber reportedly has spent $1.3 million to date.
"You got the chairman of Whitman’s campaign… and many people on the Chamber didn’t even know about it,” he said. "I’m hoping they’ll take it down."
Brown’s comments come in the wake of a new CalChamber ad campaign titled "Enough is Enough,” which slams Brown as being a tax-and-spend two term governor; the non-profit group contends the effort is not political, but "issue advocacy."
But both Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog and the California Democratic Party have filed complaints with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission charging that the effort is a violation of election laws because they say it represents a pure campaign attack against Brown, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Critics have also questioned its independence, noting that Wilson, the chair of Republican gubernatorial candidate Whitman’s campaign, is one of the CalChamber’s 90 board members.
Late yesterday, four CalChamber board members fired off a letter to Chamber president Allan Zaremberg demanding that the ads be pulled, arguing that the effort was made without their knowledge and "undermines the Chamber’s credibility."
"We participate in the Chamber to promote a healthy business climate, not to exacerbate unhealthy partisanship," the four said in their letter. "This is not the kind of ‘education’ approach with which we believe the Chamber should be associated."
As we reported yesterday, UC President Mark Yudof, also a CalChamber board member, indicated he knew nothing about the ad campaign — and he’s making no secret he isn’t happy about it. "I want to make absolutely clear that I was not aware of this ad. I did not and do not approve of it,” he said in a comment posted on his Facebook page.
Wilson, meanwhile, told the Sac Bee that he knew nothing about the ads also — though he said he had no problem with it. "My guess is this is issue advocacy that is permitted," he told the Bee.
Brown’s campaign manager Steve Glazer, meanwhile, has sent out a fundraising letter in the wake of the campaign, saying that Democrats needs to weigh in on the "false and sleazy attack ad" by the Chamber.
We haven’t heard the last of this one. Stay tuned.