eMeg’s Vote Dodge, Jerry’s $$, Parsky’s Dead Meat


megartWhether or not you think Meg Whitman’s shoddy voting record alone disqualifies her to be governor of California, the more fundamental issue in the controversy is whether she’s telling the truth about it.

As Whitman embarked on a media damage control tour,  including an interview with AP Tuesday and a scheduled appearance with KGO’s Ronn Owens today,  significant questions remained unanswered over her shifting versions of reality about her voting record.

Specifically, why did she make statements, in a speech to the Republican state convention on Feb. 21, 2009,  that were — and there’s no other way to put this — untrue?

In that speech to hundreds of delegates, Whitman a) falsely claimed that she had been registered to vote since 1998 and b)  set forth an elaborate, 81-word explanation for why she chose to register as an independent at that time – in support of her false claim.

“As you may have read, I’ve been a registered “decline to state” voter since 1998. As the CEO of a public company, with an enormous community of users and employees covering every imaginable political persuasion, I purposely made the decision to register DTS. I felt it was the right thing to do given my role at eBay. Once my eBay tenure was coming to an end and I became more involved with (Mitt Romney’s) campaign, I changed my registration back to Republican.

As the world now knows, thanks to Andrew McIntosh’s investigative Sac Bee report, Whitman never registered — as a Decline to State, a Republican or anything else — until 2002.

At a press conference on Saturday, Whitman was asked directly about the discrepancy between the statements in her February speech and the documentary record.

REPORTER: …you were registered in 1998, and there’s no record of that. Are you inferring that you did? The Bee reported after you were not registered at all before 2002.
WHITMAN: So when I came back to California, I registered in 2002, so I don’t know where that came from, but I registered in 2002 when I came back to California, so thank you for that.” (emphasis ours).

You don’t know where it came from? Try checking here, Your Megness.

Whitman managed to slip the punch on that key question, because the press was in full bay and didn’t follow up, although her flack  later tried to reconcile February and the facts by telling a reporter, “She misspoke, and it was wrong.”

But an 81-word passage in the prepared text of a formal speech to a state party convention can’t simply be dismissed as an off-hand misstatement. So why did she say what she said back in February? There are only three  explanations that we can think of:

1. A staff person put the statement in her speech, unbeknownst to her, and she simply read the text as written.

2. She delusionally believed at the time that she did register in 1998 and that she had done so as DTS – even though she had not registered, let alone DTS.

3. She knew it wasn’t true but said it anyway.

We asked press secretary Sarah Pompei again yesterday for an explanation of how Whitman came to make false statements in a major speech at a political convention.The best she could come up with was, “I wasn’t there” and “there was an error.”  We’ll say.

Calbuzz hopes that when eMeg appears on his show today, our old friend Ronn Owens will press her about which of these explanations is true, and not settle for the “I made a mistake” claptrap she’s been peddling since the Bee story broke.

jerryheadshotJerry Puts Toe in Water: To the surprise of no one, Attorney General Jerry Brown announced Tuesday he’s filing paperwork for with the Secretary of State for a “Brown for Governor 2010 Exploratory Committee.” This means that instead of raising funds under the limits that apply to the attorney general — $6,500 per person/per election, Crusty can now raise under limits for governor, which allow $25,900 per person/per election.

Of course, under the old limits, Brown already had stashed about $7 million on hand compared to about $1 million on hand for Prince Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, his Democratic primary foe. Quipped Brown adviser Steve Glazer: “Now we’re operating under the Gavin Newsom limits.”

Giving Brown plenty of room for a eMeg-style “official announcement” tour, Glazer added, “if he decides to run, I don’t expect him to make a decision until next year.”

Brown’s move to form a committee comes a week before Bill Clinton arrives in L.A. to give Newsom his formal blessing and headline a big fundraiser for the San Francisco mayor. Coincidence? You be the judge.


Elephant gives birth to mouse: The Commission on the 21st Century Economy – or what Gov. Schwarzmuscle likes to call the “tax commission” – dropped its recommendations Tuesday, with support from only nine of its 14 members. There were some key players who didn’t sign on, including  Bill Hauck of the California Business Roundtable, renowned tax expert Richard Pomp and  ex-Assembly budget guru Fred Keeley.

Gerald Parsky, the Southern California investor and GOP bigwig who chaired the commission, brought along to a Sacto press conference John Cogan, senior fellow at the right-wing Hoover Institution at Stanford, and Chris Edley, longtime Democrat and dean of the Boalt Hall School of Law. It was easy to see why Cogan was happy with the commission’s report; what was unclear, and went unanswered was this question for Edley: what did the liberals get out of this?

Once Edley bought into the notion that any plan from the Parsky panel had to be “revenue neutral,” he was playing on the conservative’s turf. He had nothing to negotiate, nothing to win, and wound up playing the role of lap dog for the Boskin Wing of the commission. (But maybe if Schwarzenegger gets an opening on the California Supreme Court…)

In the world outside the Capitol press conference room, the plan drew immediate fire from all quarters.

Allan Zremberg of the California Chamber said, “the recommendation today from some members of the Commission on the 21st Century Economy is fatally flawed,” while California Labor Federation chief Art Pulaski called it “a profound disappointment, offering no solutions to better support our state’s middle class” and the California Tax Reform Association chimed in here, calling the report a “failure.” If you really want an eyeful of critique, from a blue chip economist whose bona fides are longer than a Calbuzz rant, read what Richard Pomp had to say about the recommendations.

When Big Bad Dan Walters pointed out to Parsky that both the Chamber and the labor federation were opposed to the commission’s call to flatten the income tax, eliminate the corporate income tax and the state sales tax and establish a value-added type Business Net Receipts Tax, Parsky’s response dripped with condescension:  “Tax policy is very complicated.”

What a wanker.

For all the lip service to bipartisanship and above-the-fray patina of the Parsky panel, its grubby political motives were laid bare by a question from our old friend George Skelton of the ByGodLATimes.

George asked why, when all the other taxes were considered, the panel had not addressed the most obvious one – the property tax – by at least recommending taxing business and industrial property at market rate?

Parsky danced around an answer until Edley finally admitted that the idea was politically a non-starter for conservatives. So much for high-minded, independence and fortitude.

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There are 12 comments for this post

  1. avatar SezMe says:

    Hmmmph. You state that “with support from only nine of its 14 members” in your analysis. “… only…” What the hell does that word mean? Why did you include it? Surely not for unbiased reasons, eh? What about “only 10 members”? Or “eleven” Or “only 14 of its 14 members…”

    • avatar Ave7 says:

      If you’ve been reading the press coverage of the commission you know that the most important story has been Parsky’s heavy-handed my-way-or-the-highway tactics.

      When a commission billed as a cure to our partisan gridlock cannot itself muster anything better than 9 out of 14 votes — that is an important part, perhaps the most important part — of the continuing story, especially since the whole membership was appointed by the village idiot, I mean Governor.

      Chris Edley is another idiot and his presence on the commission was entirely because he could be controlled through right wing intimidation (see Yoo, John).

      Everyone thinks the commission was a failure — from the right and the left. Not in the “hey cool, no one likes it so it must be the cod liver oil we need” kind of way, but in the “seriously? this is what Herr Parsky shoved down everyone’s throats?” way.

      Memo to Parsky: Leave this one off your resume.

  2. I shudder to think that the most the press has to focus on in a candidate is whether or not Meg voted in a general election – probably the most meaningless vote ever to be cast! Where is the substance? You know, the stuff that makes a difference in our State – like her pledge to:

    1) Follow Jeb Bush’s lead in florida WRT schooling – grading public schools (and telling parents those grades) and allowing better run magnet schools to compete with public – so parents at those CRAP schools can go to a better school. This will significantly positively impact our schools.

    2) Cutting the number of public employees on State payrolls and creating a less generous benefit program.

    3) Fixing the Jail system which currently costs 30 percent more per inmate than the national average.

    4) Cutting back regulations which cripple our state economy with the heavy burdens businesses must shoulder for stupid, meaningless regulations.


    • avatar patwater says:

      Let’s not pretend that a 40,000 across the board cut in the number of state workers is serious policy. That’s one (tiny) notch above promising to cut “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

    • avatar Ave7 says:

      That is some serious substance PSB! Who cares if she never voted! These detailed, specific reforms are so innovative, so breathtakingly efficacious, so thoroughly grounded in the realities of our state government that it’s hard to believe Meg has never paid attention to her civic duties until she decided to be Governor.

      We CAN have better schools without spending more money! We CAN improve services with fewer employees! We CAN cut prisons and make our communities safer! We CAN cut regulations without actually reading them! We CAN cut business taxes without raising personal, sales, and property taxes! Yes we CAN!

      You’ve certainly convinced me big guy. Clearly the problem with Arnold was that he was such an over-thinking, insider creature of the Sacramento political culture. Enough of professional politicians like him with their “difficult choices” and “partisan compromises.” It’s time for an unattached, uninvolved, uncorrupted voice of pure naivete in the Governor’s office!

      Theodore Hesburgh said “Voting is a civic sacrament.” Bring on the sacrilegious!

    • avatar tegrat says:

      perhaps you didn’t read the column?

      “the more fundamental issue in the controversy is whether she’s telling the truth about it”

      repeating a bunch of platitudes about cutting and fixing doesn’t, er, cut it, either.

  3. avatar Silent Sleuth says:

    Ms. Whitman may be setting some kind of a record here in terms of how far ahead of a primary one starts the blatant lying. She didn’t just say “sure I’ve been a registered voter” – she made a formal speech in which she specified how she had registered (NOT!) then justified her nonsense lie.
    I think this failed businesswoman (having never paid any attention to her civic duties) stupidly believed that by claiming “decline to state”, her lack of registration would be invisible to investigative reporters. I think she believed that if you weren’t down as a dem or rep, your name does not appear on any voter lists. And, even if someone else wrote the speech, she still had to read it aloud.
    Would you read a speech in which you said you drove a Chevy when you knew your BMW was parked outside? And then go on to describe why you bought the non-existent Chevy?
    Also, sorry to hear that PSB above thinks that voting in a general election is meaningless…elections do have consequences, sir, as you might be noticing lately on the national level. I guess PSB doesn’t intend to ever run for office since his platform would include encouraging people not to vote.
    As for Parsky: sheer hubris from the outset.

  4. avatar Sac Economist says:

    About the Tax Commission. What a gloriously botched opportunity. Despite the bipartisan appointments, universal good wishes, and unfettered access to all the tax experts and information it could desire, the Tax Commission was essentially hijacked by conservatives and flat-tax proponents. The Report is intellectually dishonest and is nothing more than a sell-job to flatten the income tax and end the corporate tax. Despite all of the testimony and information at the Commission’s disposal, its report does not contain one shred of serious analysis or consideration of any potential drawbacks to its recommendations. The plan has a number of crucial assumptions and fatal flaws that the report doesn’t mention let alone deal with. No hint of the tax-shift consequences. It avoids overall progressivity impacts. There is no real answer to Nexus-Constitutional issues. It is misleading in that it appears to recommend ending the sales tax when it really just recommends reducing it by the state’s portion (a subterfuge that appears to have been swallowed whole by the press). The omission of the role or impact of property taxes, by itself, is blindingly unambiguous evidence of the Commission leadership’s biases and agendas. I wouldn’t even put this report on a shelf for fear of taking up valuable shelf space.

  5. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    Let me count the crap.
    1) How’s that working in Florida? Test scores up? No, of course they’re not.
    2) Like the services you’re getting from the state now? Then clearly you haven’t tried to schedule an appointment at the DMV or get anything out of the EDD lately. Good luck with that.
    3) The jail system is overcrowded and sucks state budget money. That’s because politicians get votes by looking tough on crime. Fix that and I’ll personally give you a medal.
    4) We have cut back on regulations under Governor Musclehead and our state economy has tanked worse than most in the country. So much for that argument.
    5) I own a business in the state of California. And nobody ever cuts my taxes. Chevron gets lots of tax cuts. But I haven’t seen them creating a lot of new jobs.

    Come back when you have some new ideas–or at least some that have worked somewhere–anywhere. These don’t work. We know this because we’ve already tried them in California and elsewhere. Sorry to let reality intrude in your obviously rich fantasy life.

  6. avatar Adelaides Lament says:

    I think you missed the point, Bill. The coincidence is between Brown forming a committee and WJC’s arrival to stump for Newsom.
    And since you’re so on top of it, how many fundraisers has WJC done this cycle?

  7. avatar starstation says:

    Adelaides Lament…quite the cross dresser you are…you are.

    The lame ‘debate challenge’ from your man–I hope he really is a man–Newsom is not going to accomplish anything. It is an absolute snore…zZZZZZ.

    Mr. Whether-you-like-it-or-not has such an atrocious fav/unfav, he should either answer the clarion call of fatherhood and bail out of this race so he lives to fight another day, or find a lower constitutional office to run for and win so he can use it to repair hisself.
    He is going to get killed by Brown and there is nothing WJC can do about it. WJC couldn’t carry Gore…couldn’t carry Hillary…and couldn’t carry Terry McAuliffe in VA.

    Turn out the lights the party’s over…

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