Carla Marinucci, a political reporter for the Chronicle, had a piece in today’s paper about the $9.65 million that Jerry Brown, California Attorney General and likely candidate for governor, has raised for his favorite educational causes since 2006.
The Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute – two independently run, publicly funded charter schools that Brown started while mayor of Oakland – received the contributions, according to the news report.
That’s probably not a surprise to anyone who follows the local schools closely. Remember in April, when Brown got Oscar-winner Sean Penn to show up for a benefit at the arts school? Brown told me then that he had received more than $1 million in donations for that one event.
Marinucci’s piece questions the ethics of these donations, made on Brown’s behalf. Here’s an exerpt from today’s Chron story:
Brown’s spokesman, Scott Gerber, defended the contributions Tuesday, saying the attorney general is duly proud of his leading role in supporting the two inner-city schools, “which over nine years have served thousands of deserving and talented students.”
“They are outstanding institutions of learning” whose supporters include U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ex-Secretary of State George Shultz, actors Clint Eastwood and Sean Penn and “outstanding citizens, companies and foundations,” Gerber said.
“Only a warped mind would deny these young people this golden opportunity, particularly at a time when the state is making draconian cuts to our public schools,” Gerber added.
Still, state records show that many of Brown’s gift donors have no apparent connection to the cause, while they have interests and businesses that are subject to the attorney general’s oversight.