Howard Jarvis group claims administration breaks rules to protect AB 32

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association contends that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office is improperly using administration staff for political purposes to oppose an initiative campaign.  The group cited an email that had been sent out by an administration official that appeared to reflect an effort to build opposition against the ballot measure.

The anti-tax group said Thursday that it has filed a Public Records Act request with various administration offices and notified the Fair Political Practices Commission of its allegation, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns. The group says that administration staff members have been using the governor’s office phones, email accounts and staff time in order to get prominent individuals and groups to fight a November initiative that would suspend AB 32, the state’s 2006 law designed to fight global warming emissions.

“Nearly a million California voters just signed the petition to get this measure on the November ballot,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Jarvis. “They deserve a fair, honest campaign, instead of the Governor or his public agencies misusing taxpayer funds and using the power of their Offices to twist arms to help them politically.”

The administration denied any impropriety, although it acknowledged that an email had been sent.

“The Governor’s office absolutely has the right to educate Californians on the benefits of AB 32 such as job creation and the consequences of dirty Texas oil companies killing California’s energy policies. An email went out with campaign materials that shouldn’t have and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Aaron McLear, a spokesman for the governor.

The group produced an email that appears to show Lisa Kalustian, chief deputy director for the administration, sent out an email from her administration account at 11:09 a.m. on March 30 to an unknown recipient. The email included a fact sheet created to oppose the initiative and ended with the question: “Would be interested in your thoughts as to what your position may be, or if you’ll be getting involved at all?”

On May 12, the Jarvis Association filed a Public Records Act  request to the Governor’s Office, the Air Resources Board and the California Environmental Protection Agency requesting all emails, printed materials, travel and expense records relating to “The California Jobs Initiative,” the Jarvis-supported proposition that would suspend AB 32 until unemployment fell back to 2006 levels.

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