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Claim about Brown and taxes in Whitman ad is false, according to source

September 11, 2010 |  2:59 pm

The source cited in a Meg Whitman advertisement said Saturday that his claim that taxes were higher after Jerry Brown’s two terms as governor was inaccurate.

“… I was wrong when I said that ‘state taxes were still higher’ during his last year than when he began. In fact, they were a bit lower,” Brooks Jackson, whose 1992 CNN report has been cited by the Whitman campaign, wrote in a post on FactCheck.org. Jackson, who founded the organization after leaving CNN, said he used the wrong year as a baseline in his calculations.

The CNN report was raised in a Whitman television ad that features 1992 footage of then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton slamming Brown's claim that he lowered taxes as governor. The video came from a Democratic primary debate that featured both men.

"CNN. Not me, CNN says his assertion about his tax record was, quote, just plain wrong," Clinton says in the ad. "He raised taxes as governor of California.... He doesn't tell the people the truth."

When the ad debuted Thursday, the Brown campaign protested that taxes were lower after he finished his second term in 1983 compared to when he took office in 1975, and on Friday, the state Department of Finances confirmed that to be true.

Sterling Clifford, a spokesman for Brown, renewed his call Saturday for Whitman to take down the ad.

“For Meg Whitman to continue running an ad she knows is false is intentional dishonesty, and voters should expect better from a candidate for governor,” he said.

The Whitman campaign stood by the ad, saying the average state tax burden over Brown’s eight-year tenure is greater than when he took office.

“CNN is a lot less relevant than the indisputable fact that Bill Clinton, not me, said that Jerry Brown turned a $6-billion surplus into a  $1-billion deficit, opposed Proposition 13 and ‘doesn’t tell people’ the truth," said spokesman Tucker Bounds.

-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles

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