Commentary: Jerry Brown should know appearances matter

It shouldn't be surprising that state Attorney General Jerry Brown received political contributions from relatives and associates of Darius Anderson.

Anderson is a prominent lobbyist and co-owner of Gold Bridge Capital, a firm that helps companies secure investments from government pension funds. Gold Bridge has received a subpoena from Brown's office in connection with a wide-ranging probe of pension fund corruption that originated in New York state. And that's where the questions begin.

Legally, Brown is under no obligation to return the donations. His office subpoenas hundreds if not thousands of people every year. Not everyone subpoenaed is even suspected of a crime. It would be unreasonable to expect politicians to purge their donor list of everyone called to testify in a state Justice Department probe.

But the California attorney general holds a particularly sensitive position. As the state's chief prosecutor, Brown is sometimes required to investigate people who donate to his political campaigns. In such cases, the appearance of conflict is particularly troubling. When individuals make tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to the public official responsible for investigating possible wrongdoing by one of their relatives, the public has reason to worry about possible bias.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.