The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 9, 2010
Union, pension politics fuel Brown campaign's 'whore' remark

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100720 Jerry Brown.JPGThe Jerry Brown campaign's "whore" whodunit has received a lot of attention the last few days for it's language, but the recording at the core of the controversy also is an unvarnished, behind-the-scenes look at how union and pension politics are playing out in this year's gubernatorial race.

As recounted by The Bee's Jack Chang in this story, an unidentified campaign advisor to the Democratic candidate and current attorney general used the word to describe GOP rival Meg Whitman.

The remark ended up on the voice mail of the director of the Los Angeles Police Protective League when Brown failed to hang up the phone after he left a message on Sept. 7.

Thumbnail image for 100908 Alan Barcelona.pngBrown had called league Director Scott Rate shortly after the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association endorsed Whitman, as this blog reported last month.

Seeking to downplay CSLEA's decision, Brown told Rate on the voice mail that former CCPOA president Don Novey, who now advises CSLEA, had "some poll or focus group and he said we didn't have the money and we couldn't overcome it, so they were jumping on the winner. I don't know, that's second hand."

Brown refuted that he can't compete, noting that the race was tight, he had $30 million in his campaign war chest and was just starting to launch ads. Then he read from the CSLEA letter that explains its Whitman endorsement.

"By the way, what I'm looking at is an open letter to CSLEA members ..." Brown says in the recorded message. 'We don't know what Jerry Brown we'll have for the next four years. We can't afford the risk.'"

His assessment of CSLEA President Alan Barcelona:

"So this is Barcelona. Not one of our stalwart officers, if you want my opinion."

Brown put down the phone and then, as Jack's story today recounts:

On the scratchy recording, Brown slams Whitman for allegedly agreeing not to touch public safety pensions to win the endorsement of the police unions.

"Do we want to put an ad out?" Brown asks. "That I have been warned if I crack down on pensions ... that they'll go to Whitman, and that's where they'll go because they know Whitman will give 'em, will cut them a deal, but I won't."

Brown then says, "What about saying," and a female voice finishes, "she's a whore?"

Click here to listen to the voice mail.

PHOTOS: Jerry Brown (top) / July 2010 Sacrmento Bee file; Alan Barcelona / courtesy

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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