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Whitman, Brown spar over Bell investigation

August 10, 2010 | 11:24 pm

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman and her Democratic rival, Jerry Brown, traded barbs Tuesday over Brown’s expanded investigation into the Bell salary scandal.

In an interview that aired on Fox 11 (KTTV), Whitman reiterated claims she makes in a new radio ad, accusing Brown, the state attorney general, of presiding over his own Bell-style salary scandal when he was mayor of Oakland.

“The hypocrisy that Jerry Brown is exhibiting by grandstanding on Bell is remarkable,” she said. Among other things, Whitman’s ad says that the number of workers making $200,000 a year increased by “700 percent” while Brown was mayor.

In a separate Fox 11 interview, Brown defended his management of Oakland. His campaign has said that the number of workers in that category rose from five to 42, including 31 firefighters. As The Times reported Tuesday, experts say the increases hardly amount to Bell-level excess but raise questions about Brown’s administration in Oakland.

Whitman also accused Brown of being asleep at the wheel as attorney general.

“I think the job of attorney general is to be out in front of these things, not to be chasing the tail,” she said. “So, my view is he should have been on this two or three years ago.”

Brown touted his role in the investigation and fired back at Whitman.

“We’re doing stuff in Bell that is very, very important, which is my job as attorney general, and I’m doing it with the collaboration of the Los Angeles County district attorney,” he said.

“So I hope Ms. Whitman takes a little more interest in the facts of this case than she did in voting most of her life.”

--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

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