Office Taped A Call About Handling of Mercury Insurance Initiative; AG Angry, Demeaning When Questioned By Reporters
Santa Monica, CA — Consumer Watchdog has posted the transcripts of secretly taped conversations between journalists and Attorney General Jerry Brown or members of his staff. One transcript involves the attempt by the Attorney General’s office to alter a San Francisco Chronicle story reporting how the Attorney General had rewritten its description of an insurance company ballot measure to make it appear as if the initiative would only lower premiums. Transcripts from that interview and other surreptitious recordings made by the Attorney General’s staff were provided last night by the Attorney General’s office in response to Public Records Act requests by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Consumer Watchdog and several news agencies.
The transcripts can be downloaded from our website, or viewed directly online here.
The internal investigation into the recordings can be downloaded here.
Consumer Watchdog sought the documents after the Attorney General’s office admitted that its spokesman (who has since resigned) taped conversations between San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci and high level Department lawyers last week in an effort to kill or alter the Mercury Insurance story. Also included in the public record is a series of e-mail exchanges related to the call with Ms. Marinucci in which the AG’s spokesman pressed a San Francisco Chronicle editor to include a statement from the Attorney General’s deputy "right up front" to rebut Consumer Watchdog’s criticism of the AG’s decision to change the Title and Summary of a ballot measure sponsored by a Brown donor, Mercury Insurance Company.
Some of the other recorded conversations were with the Attorney General directly, including:
· an interview with Los Angeles Times reporter Shane Goldmacher, who was interviewing Brown about the large contributions he has solicited on behalf of two charities in Oakland from donors with significant interest before the state and Attorney General;
· an interview with AP reporter Bob Jablon about questions related to the AG’s decision to pursue a case related to the death of Anna Nicole Smith;
· an interview with AP reporter Beth Fouhy in which AG Brown discusses running for Governor, including how he distinguishes himself from Hilary Clinton and other politicans; and
· an interview with AP reporter Don Thompson related to California budget cuts.
Consumer Watchdog noted that several of the recorded calls involved interviews that addressed sensitive issues for which the Attorney General faced some criticism.
Consumer Watchdog understands that the Attorney General’s office released the documents after the tape-recorded journalists were informed of the recordings and each released the Department of Justice to reveal the transcripts.
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Consumer Watchdog is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. For more information, visit: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org