Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown tore into Republican rival Meg Whitman on Thursday morning, accusing the billionaire of having a major conflict of interest concerning her proposal to eliminate state taxes on capital gains.
“Her so-called jobs plan, which is as phony as a three-dollar bill, is to give tax breaks to herself in one of grossest conflicts of interest I’ve ever seen in a campaign,” Brown said during his weekly interview on KGO radio in San Francisco.
Whitman has said previously that several other states do not tax capital gains and that such a move would spur investment and spending.
Brown on Thursday countered that the proposal would rip a $5-billion hole in the state’s already troubled finances and that, instead of providing tax relief for ordinary Californians, it would only benefit the wealthiest who have investment income.
“It’s a gigantic ripoff,” Brown said.
[Updated at 9:34 a.m. The Whitman campaign said her proposal will spur job growth. "Jerry Brown's nonsensical statements are further proof that he will do anything to protect the status quo and appease the unions who have raised and spent $18 million in support of his campaign. Millions of middle-class Americans and retirees pay the capital gains tax every year," said spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera. "Meg's plan encourages people to invest their money so more jobs can be created -- something this economy desperately needs."]
Pressed for how he would revive the economy, Brown pointed to his green-jobs plan, which he said would create 500,000 jobs over the next decade.
He criticized reports that attorneys general from four other states are preparing a legal challenge to AB 32, the state’s landmark global-warming law, if it is not put on hold by voters in November. He said the law would reduce dependence on oil, which would be good for the environment, the economy, national security and public health.
“Those four AGs, those states, they are either unwilling dupes or conscious allies of not only oil companies from Texas, but oil companies from Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela, all the people who enjoy grabbing our dollars because of our oil addiction,” Brown said.
Brown, the state’s attorney general and a supporter of same-sex marriage, also defended his decision not to appeal a legal ruling that found Proposition 8, which denies gay couples the right to marry, unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court declined on Wednesday to force Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to defend the proposition, which was passed by voters in 2008.
Brown said he took an oath to uphold state and federal law, including the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says that no person shall be denied equal protection of the law.
“The federal law is supreme and takes precedence over state law,” Brown said.
Whitman has said that if she were elected governor, she will appeal the ruling. The former EBay chief supports civil unions for same-sex couples, but opposes gay marriage.
-- Seema Mehta in Los Angeles