Jerry Brown's Use of State-Owned Planes Explained

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP

    California Attorney General Jerry Brown has used a state-owned plane on 15 days since he took office in 2007, including at least two trips to attend gatherings of lobbyists and donors, according to documents released by Brown's office.

    The attorney general's office said previously that its aircraft -- two airplanes and a helicopter -- are used only for law enforcement purposes and only when it is less expensive than flying commercial.

    The Associated Press previously reported on Brown's occasional use of a state-owned plane because it appeared to be at odds with remarks he has made as he runs for governor.
         
    The Democratic candidate has promoted his elimination of the governor's airplane when he last held the office from 1975-83 and has said the state should do away with perks as a way to save money.
         
    He also has criticized his opponent, Republican Meg Whitman, for chartering private jets for her campaign.
         
    Most of Brown's trips were related to public meetings of law enforcement officers and funerals, and the vast majority of Brown's air travel has been by commercial airlines.
         
    In 2007, Brown used the plane to speak on two occasions to influential groups meeting at upscale California resorts, according to the records, which were released late Monday to the AP under the California Public Records Act.
         
    On one trip, he stayed overnight in Pebble Beach while the state-owned plane, a Beechcraft Super King Air 200 turboprop, flew back to Sacramento and then returned to pick him up the next day.
         
    Brown attended a reception at the exclusive Lodge at Pebble Beach for the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business-Fisher Center for Real Estate on April 19, 2007. The event was to honor real estate magnate and Democratic donor Gerson Bakar, who has given Brown's campaigns $16,300 since 2004, according to secretary of state records. Brown addressed the group the following morning.
         
    Mary Corley, executive director of the group that sponsored the Pebble Beach function, said the group paid $651 for Brown's room at the Pebble Beach Lodge, which is located on the 18th hole of the world-renowned golf course.
         
    Brown did not have to list the gift on the public disclosure statement he filed that year because regulations in effect at the time "exempted necessary lodging and subsistence provided directly to an official in connection with an event at which the official gave a speech," said Christine Gasparac, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.
         
    That same month, Brown used the state plane to fly from Oakland to Fresno to meet with the Central Valley Hispanic Leadership group, then flew to a meeting on judicial appointments in Santa Monica, where he stayed overnight before flying the next day to a meeting of the California Hospital Association at the La Costa Resort and Spa near San Diego, according to the records.
         
    Gasparac said both the speech to the hospital association and the real estate group were related to law enforcement but declined to be more specific about the link between the groups and the attorney general's job.
       
     "The attorney general is the chief law officer of the state," Gasparac said in an e-mail. "All of his official duties relate to furthering justice by enforcing the law, both civil and criminal."
       
     The AP sought additional details about those trips by asking for Brown's calendars for the days surrounding his speeches, but the AG's office did not immediately release them. Gasparac said the office would provide them later Tuesday.
         
    The records show Brown also has used the plane for travel to Palm Springs for a speech at a crime victims event and to attend the funerals of two law enforcement officers.
         
    The AP previously reported that Brown has used the plane three times in 2010 -- for a California Highway Patrol officer's funeral, a gang takedown and news conference in Salinas and to attend a meeting with local sheriffs in Truckee.
         
    Only Department of Justice personnel were on board the plane for all events, except for a CHP official who accompanied him to one of the funerals, according to the department. The records show no flights by Brown on the department's plane in 2008 or 2009.
         
    He has flown commercial airlines for 139 round-trip flights since he took office in 2007, the attorney general's office said.
         
    The department reported it also owns a 1977 six-seater Aerostar 601 turboprop plane and a 1968 Bell UH-1 "Huey" military helicopter, as well as other aircraft it uses for undercover law enforcement activities.