Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jerry Brown Opens Door for Big Donors

By Robert Gammon
Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 6:51 AM

State Attorney General Jerry Brown has solicited nearly $10 million from big donors on behalf of his two pet charter schools since 2006 — the most that any state elected official has collected in charitable contributions, according to the Chron. Ethics experts say that what Brown did was legal, but raised concerns that the attorney general was offering access to donors in exchange for the huge donations. "It gives them great access," Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angles and former general counsel of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, told the newspaper. "If I said, 'Would you give $50,000 to my favorite charity?' and you do ... and I call you up the next day, I think you'd take my call."

Brown spokesman Scott Gerber defended the contributions and said the attorney general was not offering access to his office in exchange for the donations. Brown collected $9.65 million since 2006 for the Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute — his two favorite causes since he opened the schools during his term as Oakland's mayor earlier this decade. The Chron noted that many of the donors to the schools have no apparent reason to contribute to them, other than to try to curry favor with the attorney general — and the leading candidate for governor in 2010.

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