SAN MATEO Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday downplayed a Los Angeles television station's report of Caltrans employees using state rental trucks for personal purposes, saying "only God" can watch over every one of the state's hundreds of thousands of public employees.
"Caltrans has been looking at it. I would be glad to look into it," the Democratic governor said after a speech to the California state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "If somebody took some time off to do something, we'll find it, but, you know, to blow it up like it's some major thing there are 300,000 employees in the state of California, and I'd like to watch over all of them, but I think only God can accomplish that."
The report, by CBS 2 in Los Angeles, included video surveillance it said showed state workers using rental vehicles to run personal errands during business hours.
One of the Caltrans employees named in the story quit Friday.
Sumner Baker, a supervisor in the department's Colton field office, was identified as driving a state-rented Dodge Ram four-door truck during work hours to buy alcohol.
"The employee shown buying liquor has resigned," Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said in a press statement.
The department has launched "a full investigation" into the use of its vehicles, Dougherty said. "Any other employees who are found to have violated laws or department policies will be disciplined."
The report included video of a confrontation between Brown and reporter David Goldstein in which Brown said Goldstein is "like a thug."
Asked about that remark Friday afternoon, Brown said, "I think jumping in your face at the funeral of (former Lt. Gov.) Mervyn Dymally and only wanting to know about something that's in his cellphone that he forces me to look at while he puts a camera in my face and a microphone, I don't think that is the civility and the gentility that I expect from the old CBS network."
Video by CBS appeared to show Brown taking Goldstein's cellphone briefly, before giving it back.
The report comes as Brown campaigns for Proposition 30, his Nov. 6 ballot measure to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners. Opponents, who seized earlier this year on a state parks scandal and pay raises for legislative employees to criticize the measure, released an online-only ad Friday including video from the CBS report.