A business organization backing Meg Whitman has launched a new "issue" ad attacking Democrat Jerry Brown's record on job creation and spending.
"Two million Californians out of work, and Attorney General Jerry Brown makes it harder to create jobs," says the narrator in the beginning of the 30-second spot, which will air across the state.
The ad from the Small Business Action Committee takes the same tone as many of the Whitman campaign's attacks against Brown, including casting his decades-long career in politics as a record of high spending and debt. But because the advertisement does not explicitly refer to Brown's gubernatorial candidacy, it qualifies as "issue advocacy" and is not subject to campaign disclosure requirements for independent expenditures.
Political blog CalBuzz reported that the television buy was $1.6 million. SBAC spokeswoman Jennifer Dudikoff said she could not confirm or deny the price of the ad and would only say it was funded by both small and large businesses.
"We've complied with all reporting requirements as far as issue advocacy goes," Dudikoff said. "In the ad we don't ask for a vote, and we don't have a call for action in asking anyone to support or not support Brown."
Brown campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford dismissed the ad as "just the same debunked distortions of Jerry Brown's record."
"(SBAC President) Joel Fox sold out to Meg Whitman and is trying to sell lies and distortions to California voters," he said in a statement.
He criticized SBAC leader James Lacy for his ties to the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group that has supported so-called "birther movement" lawsuits challenging President Barack Obama's citizenship based on his birth certificate.
Whitman campaign spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera said of the ad: "It's no surprise that business leaders in the state are running an issue advocacy campaign because they are concerned about what Jerry Brown' s failed policies would mean for the future business climate in California."
The ad launch comes just days after the Fair Political Practices Commission decided to hold off on voting to crack down on political ads that circumvent disclosure requirements through carefully crafted issue-advocacy campaigns.
FPPC attorneys recommended that commissioners direct enforcement staff to effectively broaden the scope of its "express advocacy" definition, considering more than "magic words" such as "vote for" and "reject" in assessing whether political ads are subject to express advocacy reporting requirements.
Political attorneys of all stripes opposed the proposed staff directive, arguing that changing the rules just months before the election is unmerited and unfair. Instead of approving the proposed change, the commission decided Thursday to ask staff to draft a new regulation to take effect after the Nov. 2 election.