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Barbara Boxer endorses Howard Berman, knocks Brad Sherman mailer

February 21, 2012 | 12:29 pm


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) has decided to endorse Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) in his bruising intraparty fight with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) for a newly drawn San Fernando Valley congressional district seat.

In a letter  to Berman dated Monday, Boxer said she was abandoning her position of neutrality because of a mailer the Sherman campaign sent out which Boxer said "outrageously tries to connect you to the San Bruno tragedy."

The Sherman campaign sent the mailer to call attention to an independent expenditure by a PG&E, which has contributed $10,000 to support Berman.  PG&E is operating as a "super PAC" -- a corporate campaign organization that can spend unlimited amounts for or against candidates so long as they do not coordinate with the candidate they are supporting.  At least one other super PAC has contributed to elect Berman.

Sherman has urged Berman to sign a pledge aimed at neutralizing Super PACs, which Sherman expects to play a big role helping reelect Berman over himself.  Berman so far  has ignored Sherman's entreaty to "sign the pledge."

The mailer refers to 2010's PG&E pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people, injured others and leveled homes.  "Instead of spending money to make their pipelines safer, PG&E is donating to a Super Pac set up to elected Congressman Howard Berman," the mailer says.

It concludes, "Don't let unregulated corporate contributions, from companies like PG&E, decide who will represent you in Congress.  Vote for Brad Sherman."

Parke Skelton, Sherman's campaign consultant, defended the mailer.

"It is completely appropriate  for us to let voters know who is funding Berman's super PAC," Skelton said.

Boxer joins California's senior senator,  Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who endorsed Berman early in the race, as have about two thirds of the state's Democratic congressional delegation.  Sherman won support from the local Democratic clubs in the area.

[For the record, 1:44 p.m., Feb. 21: An earlier version of this post mistakenly said the San Bruno pipeline explosion occurred last year.]


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Photo: Sen. Barbara Boxer.  Credit: Associated Press