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Brown closes inquiry into unauthorized taping of conversations with reporters

California's attorney general says the tapings were done only by a rogue lieutenant who quit after his actions were revealed.

November 10, 2009|Evan Halper

SACRAMENTO — State Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown closed his inquiry into the unauthorized tape recording of his and some staff members' conversations with reporters, saying the tapings were done only by a rogue lieutenant who quit after his actions were revealed.

The findings, released Monday evening, follow former communications director Scott Gerber's acknowledgment that he secretly taped interviews with reporters from The Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Associated Press that were conducted with Brown and other justice officials.

Interview topics included Brown's political outlook, his solicitation of charitable donations from companies with business before his office and his actions in the Anna Nicole Smith drug case.

The taping came to light when Gerber took issue with a report in the Chronicle about Brown's handling of a proposed ballot initiative.

In arguing his case, he sent the paper a transcript of its reporter's conversation with justice officials, which he had clearly drafted using a tape of the interview.

The investigation, undertaken by Chief Assistant Atty. Gen. Dane R. Gillette, said Gerber had been instructed by attorneys in the office not to record any conversations without permission from all parties involved -- but Gerber continued to make the tapes.

Despite state laws that bar the recording of "confidential communication" without consent of all parties, the investigation concluded Gerber broke no laws.

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evan.halper@latimes.com

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