Jerry Brown is nothing if not unpredictable. But even the one-of-a-kind attorney general had to raise a few eyebrows when he allowed tort reformers to throw a fund-raiser for him this week.
Californians for Civil Justice Reform, the political action committee operated by the Civil Justice Association of California, hosted the shindig Wednesday evening at the tony Firehouse restaurant in Old Sacramento.
CJAC President John Sullivan downplayed the event as a simple gathering, no different than other fund-raisers the PAC has held for legislative leaders. “It’s just a chance to get together with them and hear what they have to say,” Sullivan said.
And what did Brown have to say?
“He’s always mentioning future plans of all shapes and kinds and sizes,” Sullivan said.
Like maybe a run for governor in 2010?
“I didn’t hear that, no,” Sullivan said.
No word yet on how much dough was raised for Brown’s campaign account, though the CJAC president said the event attracted “a pretty good turnout.” But Brown’s future campaign disclosures should reveal some pretty interesting donors. Californians for Civil Justice Reform’s most recent filings show big contributions from Chevron (you know, the oil company that’s tussled (.pdf) with Brown over its Richmond refinery), Philip Morris, Dow Chemical Co. and a host of insurers.
With the possible exception of his environmental litigation, Brown has never walked in the footsteps of more activist-AG Democrats like Bill Lockyer or Eliot Spitzer. He signed MICRA into law while governor and continues to accept campaign funding from groups opposed to easing California’s medical malpractice cap.
But by hooking up with CJAC for a fund-raiser, Brown seems to have thumbed trial lawyers right in the eye. Maybe with his name recognition he figures they’d have no one else to support in a Democratic primary for governor. Maybe he doesn’t care; Brown had $1.7 million in his bank account at the end of June, according to filings with the state. And the contributions, particularly from labor unions, keep rolling in.
— Cheryl Miller