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Complaint filed over 'issues' ad attacking Jerry Brown

A consumer group has filed a complaint against the California Chamber of Commerce with the state agency that enforces campaign finance law over the business group's television commercial attacking Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, Democratic candidate for governor. The California Democratic Party said it too would file a complaint on the same issue.

Jamie Court, an advocate with Consumer Watchdog, accused the chamber of violating state law by saying the ad is intended to advocate on an "issue" -– taxes and spending -– and not for or against a candidate. Independent groups advocating on an issue are not required to disclose their donors. Court also told the state Fair Political Practices Commission that the chamber was illegally coordinating with Meg Whitman, the Republican front-runner for governor, because her campaign chairman, former Gov. Pete Wilson, is on the group's board.

The state Democratic Party said that it also planned to complain to the FPPC of coordination involving Wilson and that the ad amounted to an illegal campaign contribution to Whitman. The ad portrays Brown as a big spender throughout his political career.

“This sleazy attack ad is obviously being done at the behest of the Meg Whitman campaign,” John Burton, the state Democratic chairman, said in a statement.

Whitman's campaign previously filed a complaint with the FPPC alleging coordination between Brown's campaign and Level the Playing Field, a union-backed independent expenditure committee attacking her. That complaint was dismissed, and Level the Playing Field on Wednesday called for Wilson to resign from Whitman's campaign over the Chamber of Commerce ad.

-- Michael Rothfeld

 
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