Ed Driscoll

Whom The Gods Destroy, They First Render Nixonian

Nixon-And-Acorn-9-15-09

Earlier this month, we linked to a great piece by Reason managing editor Jesse Walker on “The Five Faces of Jerry Brown.” And as Big Government’s “Publius” notes, Governor / Mayor / State A.G. Moonbeam has entered the latest, Nixonian phase of his long, checkered career: his flacks are secretly recording reporters:

The stunning news that a spokesman for Attorney General Jerry Brown secretly taped a conversation with SF Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci, admitting that this something he did routinely, leaves Brown with one and only option: fire the flack immediately.

The paper reported Friday that Brown press spokesman Scott Gerber acknowledged taping the call, apparently in direct violation of California Penal Code Section 632, which says that conversations may not be taped without notice to all parties.

Dick Nixon must be rolling over in his grave.

That a public official so off-handedly violated state law on such a sensitive subject is unacceptable. That the official works for the chief law enforcement officer of California makes it outrageous. That the call focused on a corporation that both had sensitive business before Brown’s office and had made a major campaign contribution to him puts it beyond the pale.

Brown needs to distance himself from Gerber – and fast. No slap on the wrist and mealy-mouthed comments about Gerber promising to actually obey the law in the future will suffice. Surreptitiously taping a reporter – or any citizen – reeks of sleazy,  John Mitchell-era government threat and intimidation. Brown’s got one play here and he needs to make it soon.

Update: Chris Reed at Politicker just posted an interesting take on this. He interviewed Gerber about the ACORN scandal last month and asked him why Brown was investigating the fake pimp and prostitute who had videotaped employees of the group offering help with their fake business and plans for human smuggling, along with the allegations raised by the tapes:

“Gerber told me the AG was investigating because it is illegal in California to tape someone without their knowledge. Which makes today’s S.F. Chronicle story even more amazing.”

Forget it Jake — it’s Sacramentotown.