Jerry Brown urges unions to 'attack'
"We're going to attack whenever we can, but I'd rather have you attack," Brown said at a gathering of the California delegation of the Laborers' International Union of North America in Sacramento. "I'd rather be the nice guy in this race. We'll leave [the attacks] to ... the Democratic Party and others."
Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for GOP candidate Meg Whitman, said Brown's pitch was unseemly and perhaps even illegal.
"I think this is pretty clear evidence that Jerry Brown is actively seeking independent support to prop up his campaign from the unions attacking Meg Whitman," Bounds said. "And more importantly, I think, it's Jerry Brown in his own words laying out a very cynical campaign strategy that's playing fast and loose with the campaign rules in California."
Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford noted Brown singled out the Democratic Party in his speech and "pretty clearly was not talking about" giving money to other groups. Brown has been aggressively urging unions and other groups to donate money to help offset the millions of dollars that Whitman and rival GOP candidate Steve Poizner have committed to spend on the campaign.
"Meg Whitman's claims are completely false and without any basis in fact," Clifford said. "Not content to buy the airwaves and bully her primary opponent, Whitman and her attack-dog consultants are trying to shut out the voices of working Californians."
Many of the Laborers' International local unions have donated directly to Brown's campaign. In his speech, Brown thanked them for being "very generous, but we've got to keep it coming."
No contributions from the labor group have appeared in the coffers of any independent committees attacking Whitman, according to the official campaign finance database at the California secretary of state's office. But state campaign laws do not require disclosure of such contributions until later this month.
California election law states contributions to independent expenditure committees may not be "made in concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, the candidate on whose behalf, or for whose benefit, the expenditure is made, or any controlled committee or any agent of the candidate."
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-- Anthony York