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Whitman says personal gain from eliminating tax outweighed by her $140-million stake in campaign

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman mocked rival Jerry Brown’s contention that she would benefit financially if she can enact a key plank of her economic proposal, saying Monday that any potential savings would be offset many times by the massive amount of her personal wealth that she is spending on her campaign.

Whitman said she did not know if Brown’s estimate that she would save $15 million annually is accurate but said the reasoning behind her rival’s line of inquiry was “crazy.”

“What person in their right mind would spend $140 million to run for governor to save $15 million? I mean it just shows Jerry Brown does not understand math,” Whitman told reporters after speaking to employees at a Garden Grove facility that makes environmentally friendly cleaning products. “The fact that I would run for governor to enrich myself is ridiculous -- all you have to do is look at how much money I have spent versus how much money I would save. He is so off-base on this. It’s a political stunt. It’s class warfare.”

Whitman and Brown have been sparring over the Republican candidate’s proposal to eliminate the state tax on capital gains. Whitman argues that this would make California more competitive with other states and would spur job creation; Brown says such a move would cost the state billions and that it would largely benefit millionaires and billionaires such as Whitman, the former head of EBay.

In recent days, Brown has demanded that Whitman publicly disclose how much she would have saved in past years if the tax had been eliminated and has estimated that it could be $15 million. On Monday, after accepting the endorsement of Asian and Pacific Islander leaders in San Francisco, Brown repeated his challenge for Whitman to release information that should be itemized on her tax return.

“Let her release that information. She knows what it is,” Brown told reporters at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. “When she says, ‘I don’t know what my capital gains tax is,’ that’s not true. She may not know the future but she knows for this year and every year that she filed a tax return.”

Brown said Whitman’s economic plan, with its focus on tax cuts, illustrates a difference in the candidates’ values.

“The share of the economic American pie is increasingly going to a very small number, the top 1%, and that’s coming away from people in the middle and people at the bottom,” he said. “That tax break exacerbates the very problem that’s causing so much stress in this country. And I have only been very sympathetic with the less powerful.”

Whitman, who repeated that she did not know how much she would have saved in past years, said Brown's statements show that he is incapable of fixing the economy.

“Jerry Brown doesn’t know how to create jobs. He doesn’t understand how the economy works,” she said.

Such a move is necessary for California to remain competitive, she said.

“We don’t live in a vacuum,” Whitman said. “Other states don’t have a capital gains tax. It’s a tax on jobs, it’s a tax on job creators, it’s a tax on innovation, it’s a tax on investments. That’s what we need in California. It is completely the right thing to do. It just shows he doesn’t understand how the economy works because he has been in the business of politics.”

-- Seema Mehta in Garden Grove and Michael J. Mishak in San Francisco

 
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