Politics & Government

Jerry Brown's AG work may be helping in governor's race

As the undeclared Democratic front-runner in the governor's race, Jerry Brown keeps a low profile and stays mum on divisive issues, saying he'll talk more if and when he actually runs.

As California's attorney general, however, the 71-year-old former governor is winning headlines nationwide for protecting taxpayers from unscrupulous banks and green-lighting deep salary cuts for legislators.

That dual role has fueled criticism that Brown is using his day job for partisan gain, a charge he has vehemently denied.

What's clear is Brown's official position has let him take the high road on a wide range of issues while he avoids the rhetorical skirmishes of the governor's race.

Just this past week, Brown appeared before news reporters to celebrate a $1.4 billion settlement with Wells Fargo & Co., which Brown had sued for misleading investors.

He's also protected children from toys containing dangerous amounts of lead and African American churches from suspected scammers.

On Thursday, Brown tapped into the anti-Sacramento mood of the moment by issuing an opinion letting the state's salary-setting commission cut legislator pay in the middle of their terms.

Brown's opinion on the pay cuts acknowledged that three other legal opinions had come to an opposite conclusion, but Brown wrote that the most recent word on the issue, voter-approved Proposition 112, allowed such cuts and should take precedence.

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