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Level the Playing Field 2010 -- one of the three independent expenditure committees targeting Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman -- plans to spend at least $200,000 a month on ads, with its first TV ad debuting in two weeks, committee leaders said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Sacramento.

The group has raised $1 million from nurses, college faculty and painters unions so far, said campaign manager Sean Clegg, and plans to raise at least $20 million in all. The committee began running its first radio ad yesterday, mainly in the Bay Area, and started running a second radio ad statewide today.

Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, a former Clinton administration spokesman, said the ad campaign will tie the former eBay CEO to what he says is public distrust of corporations and criticize Whitman for supposedly earning millions of dollars while laying off eBay employees.

"In this atmosphere where people are very suspicious of corporate America and people have a lot of questions about how corporate America has rigged the system for them," Lehane said, "we have a candidate who's running for governor who not only rigged the system when she was in corporate America, but is now trying to use the money she made in corporate America to rig the democratic process, and we're just not going to stand for that."

The committee also includes Averell "Ace" Smith, who ran undeclared Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown's 2006 attorney general campaign, and Democratic strategist Jason Kinney.

Whitman spokesman Sarah Pompei responded by e-mail to the second radio ad: "Predictably, Team Brown launches its campaign by trying to meddle in a Republican primary using preposterous and ridiculous accusations. This ad only serves as a contrast that highlights Jerry Brown's biggest liability: he's a job killer. The fact is Meg Whitman's record is creating 15,000 jobs at eBay while Jerry Brown has spent decades pursuing big government policies that have stymied job growth."


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