Gov. Brown Removes Physician in Prop. 29 Ad From Health Board

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On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) removed a physician from a state health board after she appeared in an advertisement criticizing Proposition 29 that was funded by the tobacco industry, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.

The state health board, called the California Proposition 65 Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee, identifies chemicals known to cause developmental or reproductive harm (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/10).

Background on Prop. 29

Prop. 29 is a June ballot initiative that would increase the state's tobacco sales tax by $1 per pack. The current tobacco tax is 87 cents per pack. The state allocates 50 cents of that amount for First 5 early childhood health and education programs.

The ballot initiative was written by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association.

Supporters of Prop. 29 say the tax increase would generate about $600 million annually to fund research on smoking-related conditions such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.

They note that it also would produce $179 million each year for tobacco cessation, prevention and enforcement initiatives (California Healthline, 5/9).

Ad Criticizes Prop. 29

La Donna Porter -- a San Joaquin General Hospital physician who was appointed to the toxicant identification committee in 2005 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) -- recently appeared in an ad suggesting that Prop. 29 would create a new bureaucracy and permit research funding to leave the state.

Supporters of Prop. 29 seemed upset that the ad implied that the medical community opposes Prop. 29, according to "Capitol Alert."

Response to Ad

In response to the ad, supporters on Monday called on Brown to remove Porter from the committee. On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) sent a letter to Brown saying that the governor should rescind Porter's appointment. Newsom wrote in the letter that "Porter has demonstrated close, obvious and troubling ties to the tobacco industry and its marketing tactics" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/10).

In addition, supporters of Prop. 29 this week launched three ads seeking to undermine the credibility of opposition efforts funded by tobacco companies (California Healthline, 5/9).

Along with Porter, Brown also removed five other Schwarzenegger appointees from the board, according to George Alexeeff, head of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Gil Duran -- Brown's press secretary -- offered little explanation for the governor's actions. He did not directly reference Prop. 29. However, he said that health advocate complaints and media investigations into Porter "brought this board more attention than it usually gets" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 5/10).

Tim Colling
Apparently, it's only ok for paid spokespersons and lobbyists to be on state boards if they hold the politically correct point of view or represent those who contribute to the campaign funds of the party in power.
Toni Brayer
The Gov was correct in removing her. It was an appointment to a committee that oversees "health hazards". There is no dispute that tobacco is a health hazard and being a paid spokesperson for the tobacco industry disqualifies her from that post. Plain and simple! No-one is taking away her right to free speech. She can campaign all she wants but has no right to serve as a public watchdog.
Brenda Mitchell
so much for free speech in the people's republic...
Tim Colling
The emperor's court jesters and clowns giggled and made merry while the emperor continued to call for the heads of those who dare oppose him and his henchmen.
Melissa Riddle
LaDonna Porter implied LIES! She said that 'not one penny goes to new funding for cancer research', key word is 'new'; she was appointed to help identify toxins, and instead she got in bed with one of the biggest toxin manufactures ever. How can we trust her now knowing that her moral responsibilities can be bought? When you're a sell out, you can't be trusted to do the right thing. Her wallet speaks louder than her morals. Prop 29 is a great thing; it isn't flawed as tax associations would have you believe, the money does stay in CA, it will create jobs in CA, it will create new advances in research, and in turn bring new science and technology companies to our state, it doesn't go to Sacramento where politicians can squabble and drool over it, it will do what it was meant to do; to save lives. As an ACS volunteer, and a CA constituent, I will be voting Yes on 29, because Big Tobacco can't buy my vote.

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