Republican Tim Donnelly said Tuesday that his past financial difficulties are evidence he can relate to regular Californians, firing back at Neel Kashkari, his better-funded rival in the governor's race one week before the primary election.
"I'm not a millionaire, I didn't make a killing off the taxpayers by running TARP and bailing out Wall Street," Donnelly said in an interview on KMJ News Talk Radio in Fresno.
Kashkari, who managed the federal government's $700 billion bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, made about $145,000 a year while working at the U.S. Treasury Department, his campaign said.
Donnelly's remarks come after Kashkari portrayed Donnelly in a mailer as financially irresponsible. Kashkari criticized Donnelly for a foreclosure on an investment property in South Carolina in 2012, and for a $2,829 tax lien the state filed against Donnelly's former business, Donnelly Plastic Equipment Inc. San Bernardino County listed the lien as being released in March.
"Hey, I lost a piece of property in the downturn," Donnelly said. "I did everything I could to save it. I put a lot of money into it ... And a balloon payment came due and there was nothing I could do."
Kashkari, appearing immediately after Donnelly on KMJ, said Donnelly's personal finances are part of a less-than-conservative fiscal record.
"It's fiscal conservatism for everyone but him," Kashkari said, "and I think people appreciate knowing the truth."
Gov. Jerry Brown is widely expected to finish first in the primary election, with Donnelly and Kashkari competing for a spot in a runoff election against Brown in the fall. Kashkari has donated $2 million to his own campaign in recent weeks, while Donnelly has reported debts exceeding cash on hand.
Kashkari defended his role managing TARP, as he has previously, saying the program helped avert an economic collapse.
Editor's note: This post was updated at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday to include information from Kashkari's campaign about his pay while working at the U.S. Treasury Department.
PHOTO: Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly speaks with reporters at the California Republican Party's biannual convention in Burlingame on March 15, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders