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Posts Tagged ‘Pete Wilson’



eMeg: $203,767 Per Day; Brown’s Budget Record

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

As Governor Schwarz- muscle and the Legislature grow ever closer to California’s all-time Belated Budget Record, Jerry Brown keeps promising he can do better in getting a state spending plan approved in a timely fashion.

Krusty basically says he’ll jump into the budget briar patch moments after being elected, lock Democrats and Republicans in a room and then just turn on the charm, a strategy that draws cackles of derision from GOP rival Meg Whitman, who says his record on the matter during his first turn as governor belies his promise. As she recently put it:

The best indication of the future is what you have done in the past, and seven out of eight of Jerry Brown’s budgets were late.

Inspired by the fact-checking exploits of Brooks Jackson, we set out to test the veracity of eMeg’s charge; well, to be more precise, we dispatched Calbuzz intern Emily DeRuy, a UC San Diego honors grad, to do the heavy factoid analyzing. Based on data we gathered from the California Department of Finance, Emily filed this report:

The California Legislature is required to pass a budget each year by June 15. The governor then has 12 working days, or until June 30, to approve it. The budget takes effect on July 1, at the start of the new fiscal year. However, the budget is routinely signed well after the deadline. In the last 33 years, the governor has only met the target date nine times, five of those in the mid-1980s. The 2008-2009 budget was the most delayed, at 85 days late. On average, the budget has been signed 20 days after the deadline.*

The P.J. Hackenflack Scale, a scientific measurement of gubernatorial performance which calculates the average number of days before or after the July 1 deadline by which a governor signs the budget, shows:

— Jerry Brown: five budgets on time or early, three late; average = 4.375 days late.
— George Deukmejian: three budgets early, five late; average = 8 days late.
— Gray Davis: two budgets on time or early, three late; average = 25 days late.
— Pete Wilson: one budget on time, seven late; average = 29.75 days late.
— Arnold Schwarzenegger: one budget on time, five late; average = 35 days late (this does NOT include the 2010-2011 budget which is 78 days late and counting as of today, which will drive up Arnold’s average delay if and when the 2010-11 version ever gets signed).

Does Krusty the General rank best because he was a better governor than all the others? Of course not. What the numbers do show is that getting a budget signed by the constitutional deadline has become increasingly unlikely, given the partisan divisions and gridlock in Sacramento.

Also that, once again, Her Megness has her facts wrong. If she wants to smack Brown around for late budgets again, we have no doubt that she’ll take even stronger whacks at Deukmejian and Wilson, her campaign chairman..

*(The Department of Finance chart above does not include Jerry Brown’s first two budgets. When they are included, the final numbers show the budget was signed by the deadline 10 times for an average of 19 days after the deadline).

Fun with numbers: To the surprise of no one, eMeg has already shattered New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s self-funding record for a U.S. political campaign – with seven weeks left to go before the November 2 election.

With her most recent $15 million check to herself, eMeg has now personally forked out $119,075,806.11, according to the ever-punctilious Jack Chang.

Rounding off and discounting the couch change, this means that she has spent an average of $203,767.12 on each and every one of the 584 days since she declared her candidacy.

For those keeping score at home that works out to a 24/7 average of $8490.29 per hour, $141.50 per minute, and $2.36 per second.

Talk about in for a dime, in for a dollar.

Tea Party surge surges: The brilliant Beltway pundits who totally whiffed on forecasting the victory of Palin whack job clone Christine O’Donnell in the Republican Senate primary in Delaware didn’t miss a step in pivoting to educate all of us provincial types about What It All Means.

Our three cents:

1-By essentially taking The First State off the table as a possible Republican pick up of a Democrat seat – even Karl Rove thinks she’s nuts –  O’Donnell’s nomination will likely mean Barbara Boxer’s tough race against Carly Fiorina is going to get even tougher.

Although the GOP is generally loathe to spend on longshots and lost causes in California, Babs’ seat has instantly gone from would-be-nice to must-have in their recalculations for taking control of the Senate. So look for more big money to pour in like the multimillions the U.S. Chamber just started spending to bash Boxer on the airwaves.

2-It’s not likely Fiorina will get much oomph in California from the alleged national Tea Party wave (just ask Republican nominee Chuck DeVore). The TP’s most ballyhooed wins have come in low-population states – Alaska, Delaware, Nevada and Kentucky – where what they’ve actually accomplished has been to expand the universe of GOP primary voters.

Hurricane Carly has a much bigger problem trying to get back to the political center to attract some coastal moderate and independent voters than she does in pandering further to the three-cornered hat brigade.

3-Former Delaware Governor and current Rep. Mike Castle’s defeat signals that the ancient species known as a “moderate Republican” is now way beyond endangered and is pretty defunct.

Castle, who was close to a mortal lock to capture Joe Biden’s old Senate from the Democrats, is by all accounts a decent, dedicated and effective congressman who knows how to work across the aisle – no more politics as usual! – to get important things done quietly. That his own party turned him out is testament to the blood-lust cannibalism that Fox News has wrought, and his post-election comments add further evidence in support of the Calbuzz Death of Truth theory.

This just in: Jerry Brown is up with a new 30-second positive starting today. It couldn’t be simpler: Brown looks directly into the camera and delivers a little tough love straight talk, Most interesting to us is his reference to “at this stage in my life,” which both addresses the Gandalf issue and offers a subtle contrast with President eMeg’s motivation for running.

Our state is in a real mess. And I’m not going to give you any phony plans or snappy slogans that don’t go anywhere. We have to make some tough decisions. We have to live within our means, we’ve got to take the power from the state capital and move it down to the local level, closer to the people.  And no new taxes without voter approval. We’ve got to pull together not as Republicans or as Democrats, but as Californians first. And at this stage in my life, I’m prepared to do exactly that.

Brown spokeshuman Sterling Clifford says the new ad is joining, not replacing the 15-second Pinocchio spots in rotation. 

PS: After a bit of lawyering, Comcast, at least, is reportedly going to put the California Teachers Association ad attacking Meg Whitman back on the air. Joe Garofoli of the Chron has all the details.

Q: Will Jerry’s Mea Culpa Hose Down Bill? A: Yes

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Update 1:15 pm: In a statement to the LA Times, Bill Clinton today endorsed Jerry Brown for governor saying he and Brown had patched up their differences from the 1992 presidential race and that Meg Whitman’s using his attack on Brown is misleading.

“I strongly support Jerry Brown for governor because I believe he was a fine mayor of Oakland, he’s been a very good attorney general, and he would be an excellent governor at a time when California needs his creativity and fiscal prudence,” Clinton said in a statement to the Times. If Clinton mentioned what he thought of Brown’s previous two terms as governor, it was not reported.

“Clinton agreed that the [Whitman] ad was misleading, and said his claim was based on an erroneous report,” the Times reported. And they quoted Clinton further saying: “Moreover, the tough campaign we fought 18 years ago is not relevant to the choice facing Californians today. Jerry and I put that behind us a long time ago.”

Clinton also endorsed Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor “because of his strong support for Hillary in the 2008 primary season and because of his impressive record of innovation and accomplishment.”

Later on Tuesday, Brown issued the following statement:

“I am deeply honored to have been endorsed by former President Bill Clinton, who, after his accomplishment-rich presidency, continues to demonstrate his commitment to bettering our state, our nation, and our world, each and every day.”

For the record, the headline on this piece, before we saw the Times posting (congrats to Seema Meta who had it up online at 12:27 pm) read: “Will Jerry’s Mea Culpa Be Enough to Hose Down Bill?”

Our report as originally posted:

Calbuzz hears that right up to the moment on Sunday when Jerry Brown lost his marbles and his self control and went negative on Bill Clinton Krusty was really, really, really close to a deal for the  popular former president to do something very helpful for Brown’s campaign for governor.

Despite the bad blood between these two monumental egos, Clinton apparently had been persuaded – likely with assists from California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton and San Francisco Mayor and Lite Gov candidate Gavin Newsom – that defeating Meg Whitman and electing Democrats should be Clinton’s priority.

Even if it meant helping Brown, whose self-important primary challenge was a relentless thorn in Clinton’s  side during the 1992 presidential campaign; the memorable primary battle between the two resurfaced last week, when Team Whitman made Clinton the start of a new ad using an 18-year-old presidential debate clip where Bill says Jerry is a taxer and a liar — based on a CNN report which the original author now admits was wrong.

But something about Clinton seems to turn Brown into a raving lunatic and so on Sunday, in a couple of cheap, throwaway lines, he insulted Clinton as a liar and dredged up the Monica Lewinsky affair by quipping:  “I did not have taxes with this state.” How stupid is that? Anyway – That’s our job!

It’s also worth noting that the Calbuzz archive will prove that we had already warned him that everything is on the record in the 21st Century which he, in his digital dotage, seemed to have forgotten, or maybe never knew.

Recognizing that Brown had stepped in a pile of his own…making, his campaign called a quickie  press conference on Monday to try to clean up the mess. “Bill Clinton was an excellent president. It was wrong for me to joke about an incident from many years ago, and I’m sorry . . . I’ve made my share of mistakes, and my inappropriate joke about President Clinton is one of them. But from me you’ll always get the truth.”*

Whether his mea maxima culpa will be enough to assuage Clinton, we can’t predict. Better, we thought, Brown should have flown to New York, put on a blue dress, assumed the penitential position and . . . begged Clinton for forgiveness.

Brown’s people say he called Clinton and got as far as the senior staffer they’ve been talking to about Clinton’s participation in the California campaign.  Apparently, Brown doesn’t have the juice to get a call through to Clinton himself.  How sad is that? Still, Brown’s peeps say, plans for Clinton to campaign in California (for  Barbara Boxer, for Brown, for the ticket or all of the above, we don’t know) are still a go.

If Clinton does  lift a finger to help Brown it will be because he is, despite everything, a hard-nosed political pragmatist who, for a lot of reasons, doesn’t want a billionaire female Republican governor of California hovering over national politics for the next eight years. (Can you say President Hillary Clinton? Reapportionment? Meet the Press? )

And because he wants to help Boxer, a longtime ally whose daughter Nicole was married to Hillary’s brother Tony Rodham from 1994-2000. Also, Clinton would want to help Newsom, who was a prominent supporter of Hillary’s in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Meanwhile, Team Whitman — gloating over the great reviews their ad is getting —  ignores the fact that Brooks Jackson, the former CNN reporter on whom Clinton was relying when he made his charge against Brown, has since acknowledged he was wrong. Instead, they’re clinging to Jackson’s argument that his report was essentially “valid.”

“As I said then, rising taxes in Brown’s early years helped bring about a tax revolt. It came in the form of Proposition 13” Jackson wrote. But in this context, that’s misleading. Those “rising taxes” were the result of inflation in the housing market – not Brown’s tax policies. By trying now to make it look like his original report had merit, Jackson has given Whitman an excuse to perpetuate her lie.

Yes, Brown vehemently opposed Proposition 13 – as did eMeg campaign chairman Pete Wilson and most other people in public office. And once it was passed, he implemented it with relish and allowed state spending to increase, spending down a big surplus, to make up for billions in funding lost by cities, counties and schools.

Despite that, Brown’s spending as governor – adjusted for inflation and population, as economists do when comparing dollars in and out over time – were actually lower than his predecessor, Ronald Reagan. The Associated Press has a story detailing that fact.

As if any of these facts matter.

*Inquiring Jesuits want to know: Brown’s comments about Clinton on Sunday – and his effort on Monday to wave them off as a joke – got us thinking about Michael Kinsley’s famous formulation that “a ‘gaffe’ is the opposite of a lie – it’s when a politician tells the truth.”

Putting aside the Lewinsky portion of Brown’s bonehead remarks, it seems to us that the more serious part of his statement on Sunday came when he said, “I mean Clinton’s a nice guy, but who ever said he always told the truth?”  Those words call into question the former president’s fundamental honesty.

Brown never directly addressed that comment during his damage control press conference, when he apologized only for his “inappropriate joke.”

Instead, Brown simply concluded by saying, “But from me you’ll always get the truth.”

Which raises the question: Was Brown “always” telling the truth on Sunday, when he said that Clinton had problems telling the truth? Or was that just a gaffe?

Fishwrap: This Just In from Krusty, eMeg & Babs

Friday, July 9th, 2010

We wish we’d said that: Calbuzz felt verdant with envy at reading the nice perceptual scoop that Christiana Bellantoni posted on Talking Points Memo, which drew a parallel between the strategy and tactics of Meg Whitman’s zillion dollar campaign for governor and Barack Obama’s technologically groundbreaking operation in 2008.

Yeah, yeah, we know eMeg ain’t exactly in Obama’s class when it comes to public speaking, much preferring a crisp three-bullet Power Point approach when it comes to world class oratory; nor do we see too many folks fainting or leaping from their chairs to shout “Fired up – ready to go” when Her Megness hits the closing chords of the eight millionth delivery of her somnolent stump speech.

But Bellantoni’s yarn (graphic stolen shamelessly from TPM) —  “Meg Whitman Copies ‘Obama Playbook’ in Pursuit of her California Dreams” — did a swell job of finding a story hiding in plain sight. She drew together strands of reporting about the mechanics of the Whitman operation that have been produced, variously, by Ken McLaughlin, Jack Chang and, uh, us into an analysis of the race that casts eMeg as the high-tech candidate of change and Jerry Brown as, well, John McCain.

The Democratic take on Whitman being a 2010 version of Barack Obama? “In her dreams,” they say. And of course, much of Obama’s success had to do with the candidate’s own popularity and appeal. Obama was a young, African-American senator who represented generational change and used technology to mass finance much of his campaign. Whitman is a middle-aged former tech CEO who’s already self-financed her campaign to the tune of almost $100 million. But plenty of the building blocks and strategies of the Obama ’08 effort can be copied. And Whitman seems to be trying to duplicate pretty much all of them.

Krusty McCain: Her Obama-McCain take, while flawed, certainly resonated on Thursday, when Team Whitman rolled out a big new Spanish language outdoor advertising program to keep pressing her aggressive bid for Latino voters, while Brown responded by surrounding himself with a bunch of Hispanic pols and hacks who complained that she’s shading the truth about her stance on illegal immigration.

Sample remark, from U.S. Rep Xavier Becerra: “Jerry Brown broke bread with Cesar Chavez.  His opponent breaks bread with Pete Wilson [aka in Mexico City 1999 “Hijo de Puta”]

“Leaders are quite chagrined and shocked at the way the Whitman campaign can say one thing in English which is very hostile to the Latino community and then take out billboards and ads and make it sound like she was fighting Pete Wilson and Prop. 187 when in truth she wasn’t even here in the state of California,” Brown said.

Brown does have a point about eMeg’s claim that she opposed Prop. 187, seeing as how she lived in Massachusetts when the measure was on the ballot, wasn’t even a voter and has since agreed with fundamental aspects of it, to wit: Illegal immigrants should not expect benefits from the state of California. No driver’s license and no admission to state-funded institutions of higher education.

But hey, despite her casual relationship with true facts, at least she’s reaching out to Latinos. We’re still waiting to see Brown actually break a sweat in search of Latino votes.

He hit me, he hit me: Since the start of the World Cup, Slate has been running a terrific feature called “Dive of the Day,” which presents video of the top flop by a player who falls to the ground in fake distress,  taking the slightest hint of contact as an opportunity to roll around, grab his limbs and contort his face in horror, all in an  effort to convince the ref he’s been fouled. (Good examples are herehere and here ).

As Dave Eggers wonderfully described it, diving is:

…essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging, and cheating, and these four behaviors make for an unappealing mix. The sheer theatricality of flopping is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds….Go and do the grocery shopping and perhaps open a new money-market account at the bank, and when you return, our flopper will still be on the ground, holding his shin, his head thrown back in mock-agony. It’s disgusting, all of it, particularly because, just as all of this fakery takes a good deal of time and melodrama to put over, the next step is so fast that special cameras are needed to capture it. Once the referees have decided either to issue a penalty or not to our Fakey McChumpland, he will jump up, suddenly and spectacularly uninjured—excelsior!—and will kick the ball over to his teammate and move on.

The melodramatic element of diving, in particular, came to mind when we received a communiqué from Her Megness, complaining that Jerry Brown and his allies were spending too much money on TV ads that are unkind to her.

Whitman media buyer Kyle Roberts sent a memo to campaign reporters whining about the sheer unfairness of it all:

Jerry Brown Incorporated continues its spending on attack ads against the Meg Whitman for Governor Campaign. To date, Jerry Brown Inc. which consists of union backed California Working Families, Level the Playing Field, the California Democratic Party and Jerry Brown 2010 have spent $6.6 million in advertising on broadcast, cable TV and radio. Of the $6.6 million, approximately $1 million has been spent on positive (pro-Jerry Brown ads) leaving $5.6 million in negative attack ads.

…it is quite clear that if Jerry Brown Inc. continues to double its spending and attack Meg Whitman at this level, it will be necessary for Meg Whitman to continue to defend herself from these attacks in order to ensure a competitive position for the General Election.

The mind boggles.

Putting aside the facts that 1) eMEg spends $5.6 million before lunch and 2) she went on the air for about 12 seconds with a positive spot before starting to air an anti-Brown ad portraying him as a cross between Jerry Rubin and Jerry Garcia, the sheer audacity of a) Team eMeg unctuously complaining about someone else’s spending on TV ads and b) gussying up their complaint to justify even more – “Well, I guess we have no choice but to throw another $100 million in the pot, Mike” – would be breathtaking, if it wasn’t so hilarious.

The refs say: No foul. Get up and keep playin’, Meg.

And don’t call me chief! Senator Barbara Boxer has been beaten up for over a year for the infamous You Tube moment when she upbraided Brigadier General Michael Walsh in the course of a hearing before her Environment and Public Works Committee for addressing her as “ma’am” rather than as “Senator.”

By now, Boxer’s huffy snit of petty arrogance has become an iconic image for her legions of political enemies, who find in the brief exchange with General Walsh personification of all the condescending,  Chardonnay liberal elitist values which they can’t abide.

Given that we’ve mentioned the episode, oh, once or twice, we thought it only sporting that, given a chance to talk to her the other night, we should ask her the key question that’s so long troubled us about the matter: WTF was that all about ?

Our query came at the end of a long  campaign day for Boxer and, when we raised it, she shot a hard look, as if calculating how quickly she could kick open the door of the van and push us out, somersaulting along the highway at a high rate of speed. To her credit, she quickly suppressed any sign of crankiness and offered this explanation:

I really wasn’t trying to make a point. We were going back and forth in the hearing, and I was calling him “General” and he was calling me “ma’am” and I just thought we should both use our formal titles.

For the record, Boxer also said she called Walsh after the hearing to check in and he told her, no worries. So there you have it, exclusive to Calbuzz.

Today’s sign the end of civilization is near: Lindsay Lohan channels Clarence Darrow.

Wannabe Gov eMeg: No Truth, No Consequences

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Meg Whitman’s shape shifting versions of exactly what happened when she angrily forced a subordinate out of a conference room at eBay in 2007 reflects an increasingly clear and familiar pattern in her bid for governor: she just can’t keep her stories straight.

Time and again, usually on the rare occasions when she ventures outside her costly campaign bubble, eMeg enmeshes herself in thickets of conflicting statements, contradictions and clarifications as she tries and fails to explain not only her position on policy issues but, more troubling, events in her personal history.

The latest example followed the New York Times June 14 disclosure that as eBay’s CEO, Whitman “forcefully pushed” out of an executive conference room communications staffer Young Mi Kim, with whose performance she was unhappy. eBay stockholders later paid for a secret legal settlement in the matter worth about $200,000, according to the story.

Responding to the report, Team Whitman described the incident as a commonplace workplace disagreement: “A verbal dispute in a high-pressure working environment isn’t out of the ordinary,” her press secretary said.

eMeg herself used virtually the same characterization during a radio interview a few days later which, as we reported , challenged the fundamental accuracy of the Times account.

But last week, when Whitman had one of her infrequent question and answer sessions with reporters at a campaign event, she changed her story: from a not “out of the ordinary” conflict, the episode became, in her own words, an “anomaly,” an outlier act at sharp odds with her normal demeanor and behavior. Moreover, after 10 days in which she and her handlers insisted it was a “verbal dispute,” eMeg admitted for the first time that she had “physically escorted” the employee out of the room.

As a practical matter, there’s a big difference between a cranky boss who raises her voice and one who manhandles a staff member, just as there is between a business executive for whom such behavior is typical and an anomaly: say about a $200,000 difference.

Still, as a political matter, eMeg’s multiple explanations for the Young Mi Kim episode might represent little more than a minor blip – except for the fact that it’s one of more than a half-dozen examples of the candidate providing shaded, even kaleidoscopic versions of the truth, which for Whitman at times seems less a factually-based fixed point than an amalgam of easily evolving explanations and excuses.

Routinely hidden behind the extraordinarily expensive marketing campaign that masks her private self and crafts her public image, Whitman to date has paid scant political price for this behavior. But the central meme being pushed by Democratic rival Jerry Brown – his authenticity vs. her artifice – seeks to define the campaign as largely being about trust.

In the effort to frame the contest, look for the Brown camp to point to  other examples of eMeg’s veracity-challenged statements and positions:

When did she vote and when did she know it? Whitman’s biggest stumble to date came during a two-week stretch last year when she tried to simply account for, let alone explain, her dismal record of not voting.

The lowlight came during her now-infamous embarrassing performance during a press conference at the Republican state convention  and, while the issue has since subsided, Whitman has still not provided satisfactory answers to some lingering questions about the matter.

When did she live here and when did she know it? In her very first campaign ad, Whitman broadcast a glaring factual error about what would seem to be a rather simple fact: how long she has lived in the state she plans now to govern. It wasn’t until the SacBee blew the whistle that her campaign hurriedly changed the text of the spot.

What’s in her ads and when did she know it? In the home stretch of her successful campaign for the Republican nomination, Whitman tried to soft peddle the cynical turn to the right she’d taken on the illegal immigration issue, brazenly and falsely insisting to a Politico reporter that she had never – never! – used an inflammatory image of the fence at the Mexico-U.S. border, when anyone with eyes knew she had.

The dust-up over the ad reflected a broader effort on Whitman’s part to talk out of both sides of her mouth on the immigration issue: she first used Prop. 187 sponsor Pete Wilson to provide cred for being tough in the primary (after she’d earlier voiced support for a path to citizenship for undocumented workers) then completed the triple somersault after the nomination was hers with new ads wooing Latinos by stating her purported opposition to Prop. 187.

Goldman Sachs — The two faces of eMeg: Whitman’s close financial, personal and political connections to the scandal-tainted investment bank Goldman Sachs have been the focus of much dissembling.

Among a series of misleading statements, she repeatedly claimed that she left the Goldman Sachs board – or “fired them,” as she likes to say – because she “didn’t like the culture (and) the management”; in fact, she quit the board the very day the SEC announced a settlement with banks outlawing the conflict of interest practice of stock spinning, from which eMeg reaped rich profits.

Waiting for Godot – and eMeg’s tax returns: Whitman, whose $1 billion personal wealth includes reams of complex investments, including offshore funds, has given a moving target series of statements about when, if and how she would release her personal tax returns.

At the GOP state convention in March, she said she would release 25 years worth, a position she changed a few days later when she said she would only release summaries; not long after that, she said she would only release hers when Brown released his, but after Brown promised to do so in a proposed agreement put forth by the Mercury News, eMeg has produced nothing but excuses for not doing the same.

Drill, baby, drill – or not: As with other matters, Whitman has serially switched her position on drilling for oil off the coast of California. When she stumped for John McCain in the 2008 presidential race, she backed his call for more drilling because advanced technology allegedly made it safe, a stance she repeated in the early months of her campaign for governor; after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, she told Calbuzz she had changed her mind and now opposes offshore drilling, then insisted to other reporters that she has always opposed the policy.

It doesn’t matter what you say about the other guys: Whitman has consistently misrepresented the records of her opponents on spending and tax issues.

During the primary, she frequently accused Poizner of sharply increasing spending at the Department of Insurance, even after the Bee debunked it after examining the claim in depth and detail; in her race against Brown, she routinely accuses him of supporting higher taxes, a charge for which she has produced no evidence, while also accusing Brown of massive tax increases during his first term as governor, a charge shot down by Joe Mathews, among others.

Perhaps the most graphic and revealing incident about Whitman’s relationship to the truth came on March 10, when she staged a Potemkin “Town Hall” meeting which was purportedly an open and public exchange with interested voters, but was in fact a phony set-up featuring planted questions, a pre-screened audience, the exclusion of video cameras and several participants re-asking questions so the candidate could revise her answers, a shameful spectacle that a Poizner press aide accurately described at the time as “the actions of an out-of-touch billionaire trying to buy the election and fool voters.”

As Calbuzz used to say back in the day when we covered races for the Roman Senate:  caveat emptor.

Shady Sam’s Sham Oil Stance Meets Mariachi Meg

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Sam Blakeslee, the San Luis oilman Californians just can’t trust, is trying to steal a victory in a state senate special election next week by posing as a moderate Republican environmentalist who loves sea otters even more than snowy plovers.

The blunt truth of the matter, however, may be found in 1) the lavish oil industry contributions shoveled into committees that have forked out more than $1 million to back Blakeslee’s play in the 15th State Senate district and 2)  the photograph posted at the top of this story, which shows exactly where the San Luis Obispo GOP assemblyman stood on offshore oil drilling in California – before that whole Gulf of Mexico thing made it really, really unfashionable.

The ex-Republican assembly leader is locked in a fierce battle with former Democratic assemblyman John Laird for the seat representing a vast, coastal district that was held until recently by Lite Governor Abel Maldonado. It’s up for grabs in a special next Tuesday that Governor Schwarzmuscle carefully scheduled to benefit Blakeslee.

Laird just now is getting his brains beat in on TV, as BP, Chevron and other oil companies have rushed to finance pro-Blakeslee independent expenditure committees that are paying for a barrage of ads portraying the Democrat as a crazed socialist considerably to the left of Hugo Chavez.

As we predicted a year ago hardliner Blakeslee now is falsely positioning himself as a pro-green centrist, in an effort to capture a majority vote in the June 22 primary, which would make a scheduled August run-off unnecessary.

“I have been an environmental Republican throughout my service,” Blakeslee told Paul Rogers of the Mercury News. “I’ve never wavered on my protection of the coast.”

Excuse us while we build a tower big enough to hold our laughter.

In claiming he’s against offshore oil, Blakeslee tries to hide behind the skirts of a group of Santa Barbara environmentalists, who pitched the controversial Tranquillon Ridge offshore project, just off the coast of the southern end of the 15th SD, as a way to trade new drilling now for less in the future (for those who’ve been hanging out on Uranus for the last year, our primer on T-Ridge is here).

In truth, Blakeslee’s history on the issue is strongly at odds with the greens who originally co-sponsored the plan with the Houston-based oil company PXP; his record shows a drill-baby-drill determination to ram through the offshore project via a series of backdoor legislative schemes intended to overrun the opposition of the State Lands Commission, which rejected T-Ridge and which, oh yeah, for decades happens to have had sole jurisdiction over state oil leases.

After the lands commission turned down the project in 2009 – saying its promise to end future drilling was unenforceable because the power to do so ultimately resided with the scandal-ridden federal Minerals  Management Service, Blakeslee plotted with fellow knuckledragger assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Orange County to end run the commission, a move that the enviros who originally backed the proposal categorically opposed.

First, the dynamic duo tried to pass AB23*, a DeVore bill that was gutted in the Senate and amended to approve PXP’s T-Ridge project by creating a special exemption and removing it from the jurisdiction of the lands commission.

On July 24, 2009, the measure was heatedly debated in the Assembly and defeated with only 30 of the house’s 80 members supporting the drilling plan.

Within hours, however, the official record of that vote was expunged, in what appeared to be a Blakeslee maneuver to remove his fingerprints from the pro-drilling bill. Despite the insistence of Blakeslee flacks  that he had nothing to do with erasing the vote, the reliable Anthony York of Capitol Weekly shortly after the deal went down cited sources who traced the move to the then-Republican Assembly leader.

For those still pondering the mystery of that expunged vote, Calbuzz is pleased to provide an historic photo of it, which clearly shows Blakeslee among the small minority of those who backed the special interest legislation to expand drilling off the coast.

Two months later, Blakeslee was back at it, this time gutting one of his own bills in an effort have his way on behalf of the oil industry, which would have liked nothing more than to use T-Ridge as a foot in the door to overcome California’s four decade opposition to any new leases authorizing more drilling in state water.

It’s instructive that when Laird kicked off the 15th SD special election campaign by whacking Blakeslee on offshore drilling,  the Republican a) began trying to finesse the issue by touting his purported environmental credentials and b) changed the subject, unloading a barrage of ads assailing Laird as a menace to society on fiscal issues.

Among other crimes, it seems, Laird accepted pay raises that, um, Blakeslee also took (Jon Coupal, the doctrinaire Howard Jarvis acolyte who’s plugging Blakeslee in the IE ads, might want to check out some of Sam’s squishier statements on tax increases here and here).

Then again, if Shady Sam is willing to masquerade his environmental record to get elected, why should anyone be surprised that he’d gussy  himself up on other issues as well?

eMeg proves she has no shame: Guess who’s nowhere to be found on Meg Whitman’s new website Latinos for Meg or in her new Spanish language TV commercials? Former Gov. Pete Wilson, her campaign chairman and iconic diablo among Hispanics in California.

Gone is the “tough-as-nails” Meg Whitman who sternly warned “No amnesty. No exceptions” as she vowed to send the National Guard to the border, crack down on sanctuary cities and generally lower the boom on illegal immigrants.

As Calbuzz predicted a couple of weeks ago: Whitman, now desperate to capture Latino voters she didn’t give a rat’s ass about in the Republican primary, suddenly is all about jobs and opportunity, sunshine and inclusiveness. Oh puhleeeese. What a fraud.

The only uncertainty, as we noted before: “…we don’t know whether, by spending untold sums on campaign propaganda, Whitman will be able to obliterate the collective memory voters might otherwise have of her lurch to the right.”

Oh, and Meg dropped another $20 million into her war chest this week, bringing her personal “investment” to $91 million.

Now, Mariachi Meg is emphasizing that she was never for Proposition 187 (although its chief advocate is her campaign chairman) and she opposes Arizona’s check-their-status law. Maybe – after spending serious money to make the point that she opposes amnesty – she’ll go back to arguing for a guest worker program where people “stand at the back of the line and pay a fine.”

So far no one is up on TV countering Whitman’s hypocritical drive to round up Latino voters. But the Democratic Governor’s Association did create a 90-second video in Spanish called “Send Pete Packing.”

As Tenoch Flores, on behalf of the California Democratic Party,  argued:

“Apparently Meg Whitman forgot that we live in the age of ‘the internets’ – ironic for someone who touts her eBay experience. She sincerely believes a Spanish language advertising buy is going to gloss over the fact that together with her mentor Pete Wilson, and her rival Steve Poizner, she engaged in the greatest Republican Party anti-immigrant hate-fest this side of the California-Arizona border.”

The CDP also reprised Meg’s “Tough as Nails” radio ad and even offered up a Spanish translation. Said Flores:

“Latino voters in California haven’t forgotten about Pete Wilson’s anti-immigrant crusade, and that was over ten years ago. They certainly won’t forget that Whitman used them as foil to get herself through the GOP primary less than a month ago.”

Unless Whitman’s beyond standard quantum limit spending can wipe away all memory.

* In an earlier version of this post we had a typo that labeled AB23 as AB32 — a super mix-up since AB32 is the famous climate-change bill.