Remember that TV ad we told you the California Chamber of Commerce just fired at Dem Guv candidate Jerry Brown? Well, it’s ticking off — or at least inspiring questions from — a bunch of folks (like UC President and Chamber board member Mark Yudof). They’re wondering why the Chamber is going all political on them. And some are asking the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate.
To refresh you, check out the ad here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0OoXCUnx2w&feature=player_embedded.
Ordinarily, the Chamber uses its political action committee to act politically. But not here. Key point: Since this missile was conconcted by the Chamber itself, it does not have to reveal which of its members kicked in the cash to fund the reported $1.3 million anti-Brown campaign. And so since we don’t know — and the Chamber ain’t tellin’ — that tars ALL of its members with the same anti-Brown brush.
We contacted several members of the Chamber’s nearly 100-member board of directors Wednesday and found nobody who who had knowledge of the ad — as in they weren’t consulted. But some wish they were.
UC Prez Yudof’s spokesperson Peter King told us: "President Yudof was not aware of this ad and did not participate in its approval. As a leader of a public university, he is non-partisan. He is looking into the circumstances surrounding the advertisement."
A spokesman for California State University chancellor — and Chamber member — Charles Reed said "This is an action that is not related to CSU. CSU does not get involved in political activities." Reed generally just talks about educational issues with the Chamber, his spokesperson said, and knew nothing.
And that is what has everybody from the Brown campaign — which sent out a fundraising pitch, natch, tied to this — to the CA Dem Party upset and crying conspiracy. Their alleged smoking gun: Former GOP Guv Pete Wilson is both a member of the Chamber’s gazillion-member board and chair of the Meg Whitman campaign.
Thus, the CA Dem Party alleges that The Wilson Link means that the Chamber is making an "in-kind contribution" to Whitman’s campaign through this $1 million adfest. Under Proposition 34, such in-kind contributions aren’t supposed to be more than $25,900.
UPDATE: Replied Team Whitman’s Sarah Pompei: "I’m not sure if Governor Wilson was aware of the chamber’s issue advocacy program, but because it’s an issue advocacy program, it wouldn’t matter if he knew about it or not."
We’ve tried several times to get a response from the Chamber — through email, phone and carrier pigeon — but their lips are sealed. No, we can’t remember the last time that somebody from the Chamber of Commerce REFUSED to talk, either. Usually, it’s hard to get them to stop talking.
They did take the trouble to resend us YESTERDAY’S press release, which explained the anti-Brown ad by noting that "California has lost more than 1 million jobs during the last two years and the tax burden on employers has increased 16 percent since 2006."
…which is when a Republican, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was governor, no?