Carly FiorinaMeg WhitmanSteve PoiznerTom Campbell

Updated: CA-Sen: Did Meg Whitman Entice Tom Campbell to Switch to Senate Race?

Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, running for California Governor and former Congressman Tom Campbell formerly a candidate for Governor and now a U.S. Senate candidate

The answer is YES, according to Flap’s fellow blogger William Bradley. But, first some background on Meg Whitman and her campaign tactics

You remember the Flap between California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner today said he has reported “threats” made by the Republican rival Meg Whitman’s campaign adviser to law enforcement officials.

Poizner said at a press conference that Whitman campaign strategist Mike Murphy issued “crystal-clear” threats to his staff in an attempt to effectively “cancel the election” by pushing him to drop out of the race.

“This is not an attempt to be hardball and to be aggressive, but this is an attempt to effectively manipulate the election process, the integrity of the election process, by issuing these threats behind the scenes to get me not to run,” he said.

The campaign provided a copy of an e-mail in which Murphy asks an unidentified Poizner campaign consultant if there is any chance Poizner, who is trailing Whitman in the polls and in campaign funds, will reconsider his run.

The e-mail, provided by the campaign to reporters and in a letter to law enforcement officials, says the Whitman camp can spend $40 million “tearing up Steve if we must.”

“I hate the idea of us each spending $20 million beating on the other in the primary, only to have a damaged nominee,” Murphy wrote, according to the e-mail.

In the e-mail, Murphy offers that the campaign could “unite the entire party behind Steve right now to build a serious race” for U.S. Senate in 2012.

In a letter sent to the FBI, U.S. Attorneys Office, Fair Political Practices Commission and state Attorney General Jerry Brown, Poizner also claims Murphy told a senior adviser that the campaign would “put (Poizner) through the wood chipper” if he did not drop out of the race.

So, Poizner has accused Whitman of trying to force him out of the race by threats and then an enticement (helping him run for U.S. Senate in 2012 against Senator Diane Feinstein. Here is some video:

Whitman strategist send e-mail saying he would use $40 million to “tear up Steve” if he did not drop out.

With this as background, now the question is what did Meg Whitman offer Tom Campbell to drop out of the race for Governor and leave the field to Meg and Poizner? Bill Bradley has the poop.

While Whitman’s operatives employed coercion in their backfiring bid to get Poizner out of the race, they employed persuasion to remove Campbell from the equation. While consultant Mike Murphy played the heavy with Poizner, several sources say that another former consigliere for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob White, the longtime chief of staff to former Governor and Senator Pete Wilson who now heads a powerful corporate consulting firm in the state capital, played the lead role for Whitman on the Campbell project. Wilson is Whitman’s campaign chair.

In December, according to well-informed sources, Whitman operatives began trying to influence people in the orbit around Schwarzenegger to persuade Campbell to switch out of the governor’s race and into the Senate race. Campbell, whose varied career has included stints as a Stanford law professor and head of the UC Berkeley business school, had been the state finance director in the Schwarzenegger Administration.

The blandishments for Campbell included the promise of new backing and help with fundraising.

Campbell, though running relatively well in the polls for governor — and probably the most dangerous candidate for presumptive Democratic nominee Jerry Brown in a debate — had raised barely a million dollars. His only realistic hope of winning the Republican gubernatorial primary was to slide through if Whitman and Poizner savaged one another.

In the Senate primary, he could start off in the lead with residual name ID from two earlier Senate runs. There he would face only one rich candidate, ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and far right Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.

Campbell listened to this and began seriously mulling the prospect of switching races. He did just that last month.

And when he made the move, he had newfound support.

George Shultz, secretary of state in the Reagan Administration and secretary of the treasury in the Nixon Administration, was suddenly Campbell’s new campaign chair. Shultz put aside his differences with Campbell on abortion, gay rights, and the Middle East (Campbell is far less pro-Israel) in making the move.

Campbell picked up a fundraiser, too. Kristin Hueter, a top Whitman fundraiser, made the move to the new Team Campbell. Hueter had previously worked for Schwarzenegger.

When I reached him, Bob White acknowledged that he was involved in the effort to get Campbell to switch from the governor’s race to the Senate race. But he said that his role wasn’t as central as other sources said it was.

White had been very involved in bringing former Secretary of State Shultz, now ensconced at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, into the Schwarzenegger orbit when the action movie superstar mounted his swiftly jury-rigged campaign for governor in the 2003 California recall election.

White and his old boss, former Governor Wilson, who like Shultz is a Hoover Institution fellow, played a major role in bringing Shultz into one of the seminal events of Schwarzenegger’s career, his ballyhooed economic “summit” at an LA airport hotel. Schwarzenegger already had his longtime friend, Democrat Warren Buffett, on board, but needed a big name Republican. Shultz and Buffett co-chaired Schwarzenegger’s economic task force meeting behind closed doors, then played good-natured sidekicks on stage after at Schwarzenegger’s massively attended press conference, allowing themselves to be publicly dominated by the Hollywood showman. (That was the event at which Schwarzenegger chastised his longtime friend Buffett for musing in the Wall Street Journal that California’s Prop 13 needed to be changed, telling him next time that happened he’d have to do 500 sit-ups.)

As a congressman, Campbell was an ally of then Senator Pete Wilson. As a state senator following his first race for the U.S. Senate in 1992, he was an ally of then Governor Pete Wilson. And, naturally, of Wilson chief of staff White.

So, there is the connection between Meg Whitman, former Governor Pete Wilson, Bob White and Tom Campbell. Meg was clearing the Governor’s race primary field and Tom Campbell bit at the chance. No wonder prior to the Christmas holidays Campbell was almost non-chalant about switching to the Senate race (remembered he first denied it) and traveled to Panama for extensive Spanish lessons. When he returned after the first of the year, little movement was seen on the fuindriaisng front or PR front.


Meg Whitman and her supporters have promised Campbell campaign help and financing for his campaign.

Now, is there anything wrong or illegal about this move?

Probably not as Steve Poizner has found out although he handled Whitman’s clumslily handled clearing the filed strategy poorly. But, what about disclosure? Do California voters understand that Meg whitman is staking Tom Campbell in a U.S. Senate race?

Probably not until Bradley’s piece aired.

Even former San Francisco Mayor and long time Democrat California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown has weighed into the flap.

I firmly believe now that Meg Whitman and her camp encouraged Campbell to exit the gubernatorial race – a move that greatly helped Whitman – in return for her help in his Senate bid.

With Campbell out of the way, Whitman is all but skipping over the Republican primary fight with Steve Poizner and instead is concentrating on running against Democrat Jerry Brown in the fall.

Her first TV ad, which went on the air last week, sets her up for that. It’s a high-gloss, positive ad that one usually doesn’t see until the general election.

At this point, Poizner does not appear to know what do to. He tried making hay with Whitman consultant Mike Murphy’s e-mail threatening a $40 million media blitz against him, but it went nowhere. Poizner’s call for an FBI investigation was pure amateur-hour politics.

If Poizner really wanted to cause some damage to Whitman, he should have reported it to the FBI, then leaked that the feds were running an investigation.

Reporters would have called the FBI, the FBI would have said “no comment” the way it always does, the reporters would have taken that as confirmation that there really was an investigation, and Meg would have found herself in the hot seat.

He didn’t, and now she is in the driver’s seat, with her new friend Campbell riding shotgun.

Late this afternoon, I received an e-mail from the Carly Fiorina Senate Campaign regarding Meg Whitman’s involvement in the Senate race. The campaign is calling on the media to ask questions of Tom Campbell and Meg Whitman as to what promises have been made.

The questions:

  • What did Tom Campbell know and when did he know it?
  • What conversations did he have with the Whitman campaign/Whitman’s supporters?
  • Was there some sort of quid pro quo in this situation?
  • And, last but certainly not least, what was he promised for jumping out of the Governor’s race?

California voters have a right to have these questions answered and law enforcement has an obligation to investigate if any campaign finance laws have been broken (remember federal campaign law has different limitations). This may be “just politics” but the last time this pay-off scheme appeared in the race for Senate with Bobbi Fielder and Ed Davis, it ended in disaster for both and the Democrat Alan Cranston was re-elected.

In 1986, Fiedler did not run for re-election to the House of Representatives, opting instead to make what proved to be an unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Alan Cranston for his United States Senate seat. She was charged with political corruption in January 1986 after an undercover investigation allegedly showed that Fiedler offered a rival, State Senator Ed Davis, $100,000 to withdraw from the Republican senatorial primary. The charges were dismissed by the court before the matter went to trial. Despite the dismissal of the charges in February 1986, Fiedler garnered only 7.2% of the vote in the Republican primary.

Stay tuned as this flap is about to expand…….


Tom Campbell now denies any coordination in a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Republican Tom Campbell insists categorically there was no deal — and absolutely no coordination — between he and GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman that resulted in him getting into the California 2010 U.S. Senate race.
“I had no conversations with the Whitman campaign. I did not talk to Meg,” he said in an interview Wednesday with the Chronicle. “I made the decision” to get out of the governor’s race.

“I contacted several friends and asked if they would support me. I did not contact Meg,” he said. “And among the friends I contacted was Bob White,” the former chief of staff to Gov. Pete Wilson and a leading Sacramento GOP insider.
White himself also released a strong statement that refuted unsubstantiated reports that he had helped broker a deal: “I had no conversations with the Whitman campaign about getting Tom Campbell out of the Governor’s race. I had a very brief conversation with Tom Campbell — which he initiated — and told him I thought he’d make a great Senator. Tom Campbell is his own man and I couldn’t have altered his decision if I wanted to.”

Said Campbell: “Nobody tried to get me out (of the governor’s race). And nobody approached me from the Whitman campaign. Period. Nobody.”

Ok, now we will wait to see the fundraising reports and the reports from donors. Somebody is going to spill the beans because things do not add up.

Stay tuned……

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