A 60-second radio ad opposing Assembly candidate Andy Pugno is airing in the Sacramento area this week through the California Tribal Business Alliance, which spent $25,000 for it. The ad is a fictional interview with Pugno, running against fellow Republican Beth Gaines for the 6th District seat in Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Below is the ad and analysis by The Bee's Jim Sanders:
Narrator: OK, who's next? Mr. Pugno? Andy Pugno?
Pugno: Yeah, I'm Andy Pugno.
Narrator: Thanks for coming in to interview with us. I understand that you're running for state Assembly again. Your résumé says you're a small business owner, but you're really a lawyer and campaign consultant, right?
Pugno: Well, I ...
Narrator: I see you have a history of filing frivolous lawsuits that get thrown out of court. You violated state laws by misusing taxpayer money on a political campaign.
Pugno: Well ...
Narrator: And tried to strong-arm campaign cash from small business owners.
Pugno: True, but ...
Narrator: The press called it blackmail. That's quite a record, Mr. Pugno.
Pugno: Uh ...
Narrator: One newspaper called your brand of politics "divisive." Another said you tried to hide from reporters and hide your beliefs.
Pugno: Well, uh ...
Narrator: Sounds like a typical politician. But the truth is, Andy Pugno, we don't really need any more politicians like you in the state Assembly."
The ad rips Pugno, author of Proposition 8, for accusations leveled against him or the campaign to bar gay marriage. It is untrue to say Pugno "violated state laws" because he never was charged with wrongdoing or found to be at fault.
The Courage Campaign, a fierce opponent of Proposition 8, filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission in 2010 accusing Pugno of illegally using Senate stationery and equipment to send a 1998 memo regarding an earlier initiative to bar gay marriage that his then-boss, GOP Sen. Pete Knight, was contemplating. Pugno denied the allegation. The FPPC did not intervene and the matter died.
The ad's claim that Pugno tried to "strong-arm" donations stems from a solicitation by the Yes on 8 campaign. The group contacted numerous companies in 2008 that had donated to No on 8 and said it would publish their names unless they gave equally to help pass the initiative. To say "the press" called the tactic "blackmail" is a stretch the only reference to that term came from a left-wing blog. No complaint was ever filed on the incident.
Pugno's "filing of frivolous lawsuits" refers to his challenging Gaines' ballot title of "small business owner." Such suits are common, and even though Pugno lost in court, his suit was not ridiculed by the judge or tossed out as frivolous.