Jerry Brown's Pet Projects Garner Millions

Gubernatorial hopeful shows he can pull in the big bucks from powerful interests

Attorney General Jerry Brown has wrangled $9.65 million from wealthy donors to fund pet projects, including two charter schools he helped found in Oakland.

The contributions, from the Hearst family and its foundation, area casinos, tech giants like AT&T and Cisco and the Pacific Gas and Electric corporation, have raised eyebrows -- since their activities in the state are overseen by the attorney general -- the office Brown currently holds -- and governor -- an office he's held before and hopes to hold again.

"We call it an end run around contributions limits," Bob Stern told the San Francisco Chroncle. Stern, who works for the Center for Governmental Studies, ironically enough helped Brown draft 1974's Political Reform Act to curb cash-for-favor influence peddling in state government.

But it also shows just how successful Brown has been at raising money. Current Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has only raised $7.4 million from donors for his charitable causes in the same time period.

Brown's main challenger for the Democratic nomination in next year's primary, Gavin Newsom, lost his long time fundraiser and campaign finance director, Paige Barry Arata, who resigned.

That's after Newsom lost longtime political svengali Eric Jaye, who cited differences of opinion with new handler Garry South when he quit.

South is known for his ability to tap wealthy donors in order to fuel expensive, and sometimes succesful, campaigns for statewide office.

Jackson West wonders exactly how anyone who plays the cash-for-votes game could be considered a "change" candidate.

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