Gov. Jerry Brown abruptly booted a doctor from a state advisory panel after she appeared in industry-funded television ads slamming a proposed tobacco tax to fund cancer research.
Elk Grove physician La Donna Porter starred in a recent spot for the No on Proposition 29 campaign in which she warned viewers that the anti-smoking measure would create a huge new bureaucracy that could send tax dollars out of state.
Porter joined the faculty of the San Joaquin General Hospital's Family Practice Residency program more than a year ago.
The June ballot measure championed by cycling legend and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong would add a $1 tax on each pack of cigarette to raise money for cancer research projects, smoking-reduction programs and tobacco law enforcement.
It also could mean major losses for tobacco companies, which are bankrolling the campaign against Proposition 29.
The Democratic governor decided Thursday to remove Porter and five other appointees to the committee that identifies toxicants, all of whom were appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican.
Health advocates had raised concerns about Porter's position on a panel meant to identify chemicals known to cause developmental or reproductive harm, given that she also appeared in anti-tobacco tax campaign ads in 2006, and in ads opposing regulation of the water pollutant perchlorate.
Brown spokesman Evan Westrup did not immediately offer an explanation for the governor's decision, other than to say Brown decided to make his own appointments to the California Proposition 65 Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee. Brown has not taken a public stand on Proposition 29.
A person who answered the phone at Porter's home Friday said the doctor declined to comment.
In a statement previously provided by the campaign, however, Porter said she had not been paid to appear in the latest industry-funded ad and got involved in the campaign as an unpaid volunteer.
"My views on Prop. 29 are no different than many others — including those in the medical profession — who have read the initiative and have come to the same conclusions that the measure is flawed," she said.
Armstrong, whose Livestrong Foundation has contributed $1.5 million to support the initiative in California, was set to appear Friday at a Los Angeles hospital with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and representatives from the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Heart Association to promote the measure.