The SacBee had an article about Jerry Brown’s connection with a growing pension scandal a few days back. The scandal itself could grow to be quite big. Basically, money managers at a couple of firms gave kickbacks to get big accounts from public pension funds.
Brown’s connection to all of this is that he’s accepted a rather large sum of money from two of the targets of these investigations, Gold Bridge Capital and Wetherly Capital, and some of the big shots in those firms. All summed up, he’s received about $48,000 from the family members of Darius Anderson, a lobbyist who runs Gold Bridge Capital, as well as another $4,500 from Daniel Weinstein, a big LA fundraiser who runs Wetherly Capital.
There’s one more issue in all of this: the Attorney General’s Office is now investigating the charges against the two firms, giving Brown the appearance of a conflict. Today, the Bee unleashed an editorial asking Brown to return the money.
This is a fairly hefty chunk of change, so returning it isn’t really a simple decision. Raising that kind of money takes a bit of time, and as of a couple days ago, Brown doesn’t seem so inclined:
Brown spokesman Scott Gerber said the state’s top cop sees no problem accepting the campaign money from people his office is investigating, though he declined to confirm or deny any investigation of the firms.
“We have no plans to return the donations,” Gerber said. “The attorney general makes decisions on whether to pursue an investigation solely based on the merits of the particular case, and after careful consultation with his civil service advisers.” (SacBee 6/5/09)
Honestly, I don’t think this is really that big of a deal. It’s not like Brown is actually investigating the firms, it is his office that is doing so. But, he is the attorney general, and he would have the ability to put the kaibosh on it.
Jerry Brown has gone back and forth on his position on campaign finance restrictions, by championing them in his 1992 presidential campaign, and then bragging about getting part of the 1974 FPPC Act overturned. But in the end, he has been a real leader on trumpeting campaign finance.
As the pressure on this front increases, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.