Taped Calls, Insurance Fix Haunt Jerry Brown

Newspapers, watchdog group issue requests for documents in wake of spokesperson's resignation over surreptitiously taped calls

By Jackson West
|  Thursday, Nov 5, 2009  |  Updated 5:20 PM PDT
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Taped Calls, Insurance Fix Haunt Jerry Brown

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Jerry Brown can't just stare down allegations of pay-for-play politics and subterfuge of the press.

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The first scandal in Attorney General Jerry Brown's officially unofficial campaign for governor continues to haunt the former Governor Moonbeam, even after the resignation of a spokesperson.

You may remember Scott Gerber, the spokesperson for the Attorney General who tipped his hand that he was recording phone calls with reporters by using a transcript to challenge a story in the San Francisco Chronicle?

After being put on administrative leave, Gerber has since resigned his post. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. California is an "all-party consent" state when it comes to recording phone calls, meaning that everyone on a call must agree to being taped. However, both legal analysts and Brown's own office say that in this case, there was no wrongdoing.

But it doesn't answer the original questions about the wording atop a proposed ballot measure that seemed to benefit state auto insurers like the Mercury Group, which just happens to be a Brown campaign contributor, leading to document disclosure filings from Consumer Watchdog over the affair.

And, of course, it's catnip to Republican opponents happy to carry water for the party looking to defeat the likely Democratic gubernatorial nominee Brown in the upcoming 2010 election. So two Republican legislators have demanded Brown open up an independent investigation.

Finally, the Bay Area News Group has filed its own document disclosure requests, as Gerber admitted to taping calls with other local reporters.

For more on how all three sides -- interest groups, the press and political opponents -- are trying to tear Brown a new one, Calbuzz has a thorough primer.

Jackson West wonders if Newsom might have jumped the gun with his resignation, or if Brown is playing fast and loose with no primary opponent.

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