Category Archives: AG Wins

California, Meet Your Once and Current Governor

This past June, I decided to do something crazy.

I’d been following the California Governor’s race religiously since San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom decided to drop out last October, and found myself instantly fascinated by this Moonbeam fellow. Not only did everyone I asked about him have something positive to say, but the little I knew of Jerry Brown – a past governorship and some Buddhist retreats through Asia – piqued my curiosity.

Having wanted to get involved in California politics since watching the 2008 revelry from the sidelines, I made it my mission to join the Brown campaign’s roster of part-time volunteers. So I stopped by the Oakland headquarters one morning in early summer to drop off my resume.

By the end of the day, I had quit my job and fully committed myself to spending the next five months getting Jerry elected.

Last night, surrounded by coworkers, volunteers, loyal politicos, friends, and fans at Oakland’s Fox Theater, I watched in awe as my efforts came to fruition. Jerry Brown, 54; Meg Whitman, 41. Californians had officially chosen their next Governor.

It was a feat only a man as authentic and eccentric as Jerry could pull off. At odds with the most expensive non-presidential campaign and largest self-funded candidate in our nation’s history, our scrappy office of thirty-some (mostly unpaid) staffers battled a behemoth advertising blitz that began the day Whitman seized the Republican primary and didn’t cease until yesterday.

All the while, Jerry remained in good spirits, relentlessly crisscrossing California as he spread his message, peppering his speeches with those quirky asides his supporters know and love (“I’m the best pension deal our state can buy!”), reassuring voters they had the option to choose a human candidate and not just a product of a corporate campaign consultancy.

I’m confident Jerry will lead our state towards a brighter future–after all, it takes both a solid vision and years of experience to navigate the complex labyrinth of Sacramento politics.

There’s no disputing his experience. The son of California hall-of-famer and beloved former Governor Pat Brown, Jerry has been breathing state politics since he was five years old. His resume runs the gamut of elected offices: Secretary of State (1971-1975), two terms as Governor (1975-1983), chairman of the California Democratic Party (1989-1991), Mayor of Oakland (1999-2007), and Attorney General, a position he’s held since 2007.

In between, he traveled the world, broadening his experience and deepening his knowledge. The former Jesuit Seminary pupil studied under leading Zen practitioners in Japan and ministered to the sick at one of Mother Theresa’s hospices in India.

Throughout his four-decade career as a public servant, Jerry has championed progressive policies, from pioneering environmental laws to landmark legislation protecting equal rights. As Governor, he created 1.9 million new jobs and selected more women and minorities for his cabinet than ever before, including the first woman and first Latino to be appointed to the state Supreme Court.

And his vision is equally inspiring. My personal political philosophies lead me to believe in the importance of the three e’s: education, the economy, and the environment. Jerry has presented comprehensive plans for all three, including a groundbreaking clean energy proposal slated to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector.

These past five months have been an amazing adventure, complete with early mornings, late nights, media firestorms, and tireless conversations with angry and enthusiastic voters alike. I’m proud of my team for guiding Jerry towards victory, but I’m even more proud of my fellow Californians for making the right choice on Election Day.


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How Jerry Brown Has Defended Equality For Decades

In honor of GLBT History Month, here’s a little GLBT history for you, courtesy of Mike McQuinn. Mike, a second-year law student at University of San Francisco, works on Jerry Brown’s GLBT outreach efforts.

You’ve probably heard about how Jerry Brown refused to defend Proposition 8 (the so-called California Marriage Protection Act) as our Attorney General.

But what you probably didn’t know is that Jerry Brown has been standing up for equality for decades.

Shortly after becoming governor in 1975, Jerry successfully repealed the law which made consensual sex between gay men a felony. The anti-sodomy law was an oppressive bludgeon designed to keep gays and lesbians underground and in the closet by criminalizing us as human beings. This law ran up against an ideal that many Americans take for granted today, namely that the government has no business injecting itself into the most intimate aspects of our lives.

The measure was incredibly controversial at the time. In fact, Jerry’s Lieutenant Governor broke the tied vote in the State Senate. Controversy notwithstanding, when the repeal bill got to his desk, Jerry unflinchingly signed it.

Fast forward a few years to 1978. While Jerry’s re-election was on the ballot in the November election, so was an incredibly divisive proposition that, had it passed, would have given school boards the power to fire gay and lesbian teachers solely because of their sexual orientation.

Along with the likes of Supervisor Harvey Milk and President Jimmy Carter, Jerry campaigned against The Briggs Initiative because – like the anti-sodomy law –the kind of government intrusion that these laws represented is antithetical to the sort of free society that he’s been striving for since his first day in public office.

Running for re-election, a typical politician at the time (and maybe even now) would have ducked the issue and focused his energies on his own campaign. But just like with the anti-sodomy law, Jerry showed us that he’s not a typical politician. Instead, he made a bold and public stand against discrimination. Subsequently, the initiative went down in defeat at the polls, while he coasted to victory.

But Jerry wasn’t satisfied with the progress already made on his watch.

After his re-election, Jerry sounded the call for legislation barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation because, as he said, “[t]he diversity of our people can be a cause of hatred and anxiety or the source of strength and continued achievement. The choice is ours.”

He also appointed five openly LGBT judges to the bench, including two firsts: the first openly gay and openly lesbian judges in United States history.

Unfortunately, nearly 20 years and two Republican governors went by before both another LGBT judge was appointed to the bench and the employment protections envisioned by Jerry became state law.

In Jerry, we have a candidate with more than a 35-year track record of taking principled and sometimes difficult stands for equality. Meanwhile, his opponent Meg Whitman has repeatedly voiced her support for Prop 8.

Jerry’s long and consistent record of standing up for equality makes him the only candidate who can get this state working again. For everyone.

Jerry with Kamala Harris at the Alice B. Toklas Breakfast in June, courtesy of Bill Wilson Photography.

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Seriously, Don’t Forget His Day Job

The Attorney General’s office made headlines last week when Jerry announced a state suit against tiny Bell, after a lengthy investigation that revealed obscenely high salaries and benefits for city officials.

The suit calls for the officials, including former City Manager Robert Rizzo, return the hundreds of thousands of dollars they siphoned from the city (population 40,000) in the form of exorbitant pay rates. Rizzo, who collected nearly $800,000 a year, made nearly double the salary of President Obama and quadruple what Governor Schwarzenegger would make if he took a salary. Members of the Bell city council, a job that pays around $4,800 in cities of a similar size, took home nearly six figures a year.

Alongside the suit, Jerry said his office will be taking similar actions to ensure city officials throughout the rest of the state are paid fairly, starting with a subpoena of compensation records for nearby Vernon, which claims a mere 100 residents.

Chalk this up to the long list of reasons I think Jerry’s the guy to lead our state – given his employment history, he understands how to combat such absurd levels of greed among public employees, and knows how to take the right action to ensure our public compensation system is not abused.

Need proof? Check out his detailed plan for pension reform. Highlights include renegotiating retirement benefits for new employees, ending retroactive application of benefit enhancements, and establishing independent oversight of pension funds.

The events that recently unfolded in Bell exemplifies just one instance in which Jerry has taken the right measures to promote fair and just compensation for public employees.

Based on these recent events, ask yourself this, voters: Do you want a corporate mega-billionaire addressing salary abuses and reforming California’s complicated pension system?

Or do you want a frugal candidate with a proven history of successfully dealing with situations like the one we just witnessed in Bell?

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Don’t Forget His Day Job, Chapter Four

It’s been a couple weeks since I released a roundup of attorney general accomplishments, and much has happened in my absence of posting. My amazement at what Jerry can achieve still has yet to cease. I’m especially impressed that recent measures focus on safety for children and seniors. Here are some highlights:

  • He reached a settlement with one of the country’s largest electronic cigarette companies, in an effort to prevent targeting the product to minors and claims that it’s a safer alternative to smoking.
  • He arrested six nursing home employees who participated in a cruel prank against their elderly residents.
  • In the wake of the Bell city salary scandal, he established a toll-free telephone hotline for citizens to report potential illegal election conduct.
  • Following a three-year investigation, he arrested fifteen individuals charged with tobacco smuggling and tax evasion schemes that diverted $34 million away from state funds.
  • He filed a law suit against several manufacturers of children’s bounce houses due to unsafe amounts of lead within the inflatable structures.
  • He exposed a fake nursing school and forced its operator to pay $500,000 in settlement fees to students cheated by the organization.
  • He unveiled an innovative computer program designed to help gambling addicts recover by excluding themselves from certain establishments.

What do you think of the AG office’s successes as of late? Please leave your comments below.

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It’s official. After twenty minutes of staring at my computer screen and refreshing my Twitter feed until I felt like my eyes were melting, the federal court filing system confirmed that the motion to extend the stay on Proposition 8 has been denied (effective August 18).

This is a landmark victory for gay rights, and based on the cheers resonating from Ned‘s CBS courthouse coverage live stream, a plethora of fellow Californians share my excitement. We still have a ways to go, but every decision like Justice Walker’s brings us closer to equality. I’m more proud each day to work for a candidate willing to defend the rights of my fellow citizens.

Now, go forth and marry the person you love, if you so choose!

Photo by kuchingboy‘s Flickr stream.

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A Great Day For California

Justice Walker’s decision to deem Prop 8 unconstitutional really hits home for me – my uncles, who have pretty much acted as my adoptive parents since I moved to the Bay Area, officially tied the knot during the five months gay marriage was legal in California. It was a beautiful wedding that moved me to tears.

My heart broke after the 2008 election when Prop 8 passed. My disappointment even clouded my excitement over the Obama victory. I didn’t understand why Californians could vote to blatantly take away the rights of a minority, especially rights exercised by two of my closest family members. All my uncles ever wanted was a chance to live together and love each other under the same benefits heterosexual married people enjoy.

That’s just one of the reasons why I’m so excited to be a part of Jerry Brown’s campaign. As attorney general, Jerry argued against Prop 8 in state court, because he, too, believes it unconstitutional. I’m proud to work for someone who is willing to go out on a limb for people like my uncles, who are discriminated against unfairly and unnecessarily.

A happy day for Californians, indeed!

My uncles and me at their wedding


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Don’t Forget His Day Job, Third Installment

I’m amazed at what the man can achieve given everything on his plate. Herewith, the most recent attorney general success stories:

All in a hard week’s work!


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