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Democratic Party unveils first ad attacking Whitman

May 7, 2010 |  3:59 pm

The California Democratic Party on Friday afternoon unveiled its first commercial in the race for governor, targeting Republican Meg Whitman for what has proved to be the most persistent problem of her campaign: her relationship to Goldman Sachs, the investment bank recently sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud.

"While Washington cracks down on Wall Street and Goldman Sachs, Meg Whitman is silent," the narrator says. "Is it because she was on the board of Goldman Sachs and made millions from insider stock deals?"

The ad also says that Whitman "has millions invested in secretive offshore accounts managed by Goldman Sachs and used by the rich to avoid taxes."

The commercial will run for five days and cost $800,000, according to a Democratic Party spokesman.

Whitman was caught up nearly a decade ago in a controversy over "spinning," the practice of investment banks granting initial public offering shares to directors and big investors, with the shares then sold off at huge profits.

Her campaign began spinning – the political kind – about the arrival of the Democratic ad starting Thursday night, well before it was released, and in a conference call with reporters Friday.

The message: that the Democrats are trying to help Republican Steve Poizner, who has closed Whitman's lead, according to internal polling, and make him the general election candidate against Jerry Brown, the Democratic attorney general.

Whitman's folks are trying to hammer home the point to GOP primary voters that Poizner, who is running to Whitman's right, can't beat Brown in a general election.

"This is the evidence that Steve Poizner is clearly the preferred candidate that unions and Jerry Brown would like to face in November," said Whitman consultant Rob Stutzman.

Poizner's spokesman, Jarrod Agen, had a different take, in substance and style: "The Whitman campaign has become a very expensive Humpty Dumpty and all of the Goldman Sachs money and all the hacks in Sacramento can't put Meg's campaign back together again."

--Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento

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