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Records show Brown travels in state airplane

Hopeful hit foe for use of charters

- Associated Press - Thursday, August 5, 2010

SACRAMENTO, Calif. | California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown travels occasionally in a turboprop airplane operated by the state attorney general's office, despite promoting his use of commercial flights and his criticism of Republican rival Meg Whitman for traveling in chartered jets.

Records reviewed Thursday by the Associated Press show the plane has been used in at least 20 flights in nine days over the last year. Some of the Beechcraft Super King Air 200's flights coincide with the locations of official events Mr. Brown attended as attorney general.

Christine Gasparac, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, said Mr. Brown mostly flies Southwest Airlines.

"He uses it very rarely and only for official business," she said of the taxpayer-funded airplane.

Miss Gasparac could not immediately say how much the turboprop, which seats between eight to 12 people, costs the state to operate and maintain or whether other state agencies use it. The AP filed a request under the California Public Records Act seeking more information.

Mr. Brown's campaign spokesman, Sterling Clifford, said Mr. Brown has never used the plane to fly to campaign events. He travels on Southwest for campaign events, Mr. Clifford said.

He said it was not hypocritical of Mr. Brown to criticize Mrs. Whitman's air travel and the spending for her gubernatorial campaign, which has cost nearly $100 million to date.

"I think it's an absolute fallacy that those things are equivalent at all," Mr. Clifford said. "It's certainly different than $800,000 in private jet travel or more than $1 million charged to shareholders when she was at eBay."

Mr. Brown and his wife, a former executive at the Gap Inc., also own a luxury home in Oakland Hills.

Last week, Mr. Brown described in an interview with Univision how he would save the state money. In part, he said, to "begin with, I would cut back the governor's expenses, like the private jet, mansion and things considered luxuries."

The governor's office no longer owns a private jet or official residence. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pays for his own chartered plane to fly between Sacramento and his home in Brentwood.

Whitman spokeswoman Andrea Jones Rivera said Mr. Brown should explain why his actions don't match his rhetoric.

"As recently as last week, he called state planes for politicians a 'luxury' he would sell off to solve the state budget, but today we find that he flew on his own state plane as recently as weeks ago," she said. "He should immediately disclose all trips he has flown on his taxpayer-funded state plane."

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