Last year’s lobbying violations by the high-profile California Strategies public-affairs firm have emerged as a point of attack in the increasingly nasty campaign between Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced and his Republican challenger, Jack Mobley.
The California Republican Party – chaired by former Sen. Jim Brulte, who is a California Strategies partner – set its sights on the 21st Assembly District as a potential seat the GOP could snag in the effort to keep Democrats from retaining the two-thirds supermajority they won in 2012. To that end, the state’s Republican Party has poured $553,000 into opposing Gray during the last month, including sending out mailers that link Gray with indicted Democratic Sen. Ron Calderon.
At least two of the GOP mailers describe a “culture of corruption” and call Gray a “lieutenant in the Calderon political machine.” One of them calls Calderon “the teacher” and Gray his “student.” Gray worked for Calderon from 2008 to 2011. Calderon was indicted in February on 24 felony counts including taking bribes from an undercover FBI agent. He has pleaded not guilty. Gray was subpoenaed to testify in the case and has not been charged with any crimes.
Gray fired back with a direct attack on Brulte, tying him to a high-profile ethics settlement his firm reached last year with the Fair Political Practices Commission:
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“Jack Mobley’s entire sleazy half-million-dollar campaign attacking Assemblyman Adam Gray is being directed and funded by a big-shot lobbying firm partner,” says the mailer from Gray’s campaign. “That firm and its lobbyists were fined $40,500 for illegal lobbying. Assemblyman Adam Gray voted against their special interest clients.”
Though Brulte is a California Strategies partner, he was not among those who were fined by the FPPC last year. It was three of the firm’s Democrats who admitted they had not properly registered as lobbyists.
Neither Gray nor Brulte would talk to The Sacramento Bee about the ads. California Republican Party spokeswoman Kaitlyn MacGregor said Gray is “making attacks against the chairman because he can’t defend his own record.”
Call Laurel Rosenhall, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1083. Follow her on Twitter @LaurelRosenhall.
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