The kerfuffle last week over the California Chamber of Commerce attack ad on Jerry Brown was not only an opening salvo in the expected race for governor between Attorney General Brown and eBay founder Meg Whitman, it also underscores concerns over campaign funding and financing in general.
The ad, paid for by the Chamber of Commerce through a front group called Enough Spending, attacked Brown for opposing Prop 13 when it was on the ballot, and for increasing spending. However, virtually all politicians then including Pete Wilson opposed Prop 13 as did most corporations – and the Chamber of Commerce themselves. That’s right; they attacked Brown for supporting something they themselves also supported at the time.
The Whitman campaign counter-attacked, saying Brown and his wife threatened companies who are chamber members with regulatory action unless the ad was pulled. Jerry Brown found it “remarkable” the ad was produced out-of-state when Whitman makes a big deal about wanting more jobs here. Both sides emphatically deny all charges and accuse the other side of scurrilous behavior. All of this makes for rousing political theater but really, is anything accomplished by this, or anyone’s views changed?
Instead of genuine ideas on how to fix this mess, we get arguments between the candidates over how money can be spent on campaigns. The general election for governor will probably be a mudslinger’s paradise, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.