The Legislature’s leading backer of a ballot initiative that would suspend California’s global warning law has criticized an attack by one of his key campaign allies on the Schwarzenegger administration.
Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Chico, said he disagreed with a decision by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to file several Public Records Act (PRA) requests with the administration and to notify the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) about a disputed email sent out by a member of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state staff.
The Jarvis group contends the email represented improper political activity by a state employee.
Logue and the Jarvis group, both of whom often espouse politically conservative causes, are leading the effort to repeal AB 32, the 2006 law that curbs climate-changing greenhouse gases.
Logue wrote the November ballot initiative, which would stop implementation of AB 32 until the state unemployment rate dropped below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters.
But he was critical of the Jarvis group’s actions against the administration, which he described as “a diversion.”
“I did not know about it and I never would have supported it,” Logue said. “I don’t play that way. I campaign on the issues.”
On May 12, the Jarvis Association sent letters to the administration, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board requesting emails and travel records relating to any activities concerning the “California Jobs Initiative.” The group contends 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 the November initiative.
The formal request came in response to an email from a Schwarzenegger staffer seeking endorsements for Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs, the main group opposing the initiative.
Lisa Kalustian, chief deputy director for the administration, sent the 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?”
“Nearly a million California voters just signed the petition to get this measure on the November ballot,” said Jarvis spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns. “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 quickly acknowledged that the email shouldn’t have 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.
Meanwhile, opponents of the repeal were critical of Logue.
Steve Maviglio, a spokesman Clear Energy Group, said Logue had engaged in similar activities. He noted that Logue has taken numerous actions on behalf of the initiative using state time and resources.
On Monday, for instance, Logue sent an email to recipients including Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, and Tom Tanton, a former senior research fellow at the conservative Pacific Research Institute.
Logue wrote, “Here it is on ca going it alone on a b 32.” He attached a May 13 letter from the Legislative Analyst’s Office which found, in response to a request from Logue himself, that “California’s economy at large will likely be adversely affected in the near term by implementing climate-related policies that are not adopted elsewhere.” He also appeared on the KCRW radio show “Which Way LA” on April 29 and KPCC on March 8, with both segments recorded during business hours.
Logue denied an impropriety. The email and others he has sent out concerning the initiative where written from a private email address. He also said they were written on his personal laptop, which he said he carries everywhere. In fact, Logue said, he never even turns on his state-issued computer, in order to avoid any conflict of interest.
Logue confirmed he did the radio interviews from his office, but said that he has checked with the Assembly Ethics Committee and was told his actions were acceptable. He noted that the initiative is nearly identical to his bill, AB 118, which he is allowed to talk about. While Logue wrote the initiative, he also noted that he is not on the board for the campaign or working for it directly in any way. He also said Maviglio was “grasping at straws.”
“I can talk about suspending AB 32 anytime I want, just like the governor can, because I am an elected official,” Logue said. He added, “I’m not going to try to throw his [Schwarzenegger’s] staff under the bus just because we disagree.”
Jarvis president Jon Coupal said that he’d talked to Logue, who he called “one of our favorite guys,” and sought to smooth over the disagreement .
Coupal said the administration crossed a line when it went from criticizing the idea of suspe
nding AB 32 — as he could have legally done by speaking out against AB 118 — to using his office to seek endorsements for one side of “something people are actually going to vote on.”
“Because Dan is an elected Assemblyman and has to work with the governor, I can understand that position,” Coupal said. “But from a taxpayers’ perspective, there’s a reason we go after this. There is misuse of public funds.”