The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has launched what may constitute the first unofficial television salvo against Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative with an ad criticizing California state government.
The 30-second ad says "California is struggling badly" under the weight of "huge deficits," "high taxes" and "overregulation." It later claims that "bureaucrats put $37 billion in hidden, unaudited accounts," a reference to the state's special fund accounts that have drawn greater scrutiny in the wake of the state parks scandal.
The state's 550-plus special fund accounts were never themselves hidden, but the parks department purposely shielded $54 million from state leaders.
Based on Federal Communications Commission documents, the U.S. Chamber spent at least $431,000 in the Los Angeles and Sacramento broadcast markets on ads starting today and lasting through Sept. 6.
The ad never mentions Brown's initiative, Proposition 30, but it uses arguments that opponents are expected to repeat down the campaign stretch. The initiative has a narrow lead in recent polls, and Brown had counted on the absence of a well-financed opposition effort. The powerful California Chamber of Commerce, a separate Sacramento-based group, has remained neutral on his tax measure.
Neither a U.S. Chamber spokesman nor the group's listed California contact, prominent law firm Nielsen Merksamer, immediately returned a request for comment Wednesday.