Anne Gust Brown, first lady and special counsel to Gov. Jerry Brown, was the focus Wednesday of a She Shares luncheon at Sacramento's Sutter Club. In an interview with Karen Breslau of the Dewey Square Group, she discussed her own career and life with the Democratic governor. Here are the highlights:
On another career she'd like to have: "I wish I could be a singer, and I am completely tone deaf. This whole Linda Ronstadt thing maybe has gotten under my skin. I wish I could stand up and sing like she does, but I can't."
On Brown's preparation for a trip to his ancestral homelands: "He's reading all about Prussia. ... He's regaling me with all these wars I've never heard of."
On her relative anonymity: "It's hard in my household to get any attention, between my husband and the dog."
On someone who inspired her: "Jerry's mother, Bernice, was a first lady. She was really very, very bright, graduated high school at 14, went to Berkeley, then ... sort of had to put most of it aside to raise her family and follow her husband's career. I think she did it with a lot of grace and good humor."
On whether she's responsible for the fact that the Brown administration has women in many senior positions: "I did have the good taste to go track down (chief of staff) Nancy McFadden. I had to sort of twist her arm. She was not interested. So I will take some credit for that."
On how the couple puts aside work and relaxes: "First of all, I have a husband who thinks that his job is like a vacation. He's like, 'What do you mean get away from work? This is like a vacation.' I say, 'Honey, that is so not true.' To come home and talk about it incessantly is just nirvana for him. ... I'm the one who has to find ways to get away from him and the dog ... and go get a massage or do something."
On her "special counsel" title: "That was more Jerry's thought than mine. He just feels that we do work together so closely. ... I may be the first first lady who's a lawyer, and I do operate in that sort of capacity, so I think he wanted to acknowledge that."
On the Democrats' legislative supermajority: "We'll see how super it is. Many of these Democrats who have been elected are not from districts that are highly Democratic. It's not like they're all going to be on the same sheet."
On her ability to "manage" the governor: "He likes to pretend he's managed, but he's not very easily managed. He does what he wants most of the time. (Nancy McFadden and I) do have to corral him sometimes, because he's a man who is really amazing in how much he thinks about things. ... He's always exploring new ideas and new ways. Sometimes we do need to manage him to what we need to decide today. I can be pretty good about that."
With reporters, Gust also discussed whether she was the still-anonymous voice on an answering machine who called Meg Whitman a "whore" during the gubernatorial campaign:
"I listened to that tape, and I couldn't hear the word in question. I couldn't hear it at all. ... I don't know who it was. I'm not saying it couldn't have been me. I thought OK, it probably was me. ... By the eighth time listening to it, I thought it wasn't really worth my time."
PHOTO CREDIT: California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and first lady Anne Gust Brown deliver signatures for a tax measure to the county registrar's office in Sacramento in May 2012. Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee file, 2012