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SACRAMENTO � Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger may be battling for the title of California’s greenest politician. But when it comes to soliciting money for pet charities, Brown leaves Schwarzenegger in his fund-raising dust. Corporations, individuals, Indian gaming tribes and card room operators donated more than $2.3 million to two Oakland charter schools this year at Brown’s request, according to records filed with the state Fair Political Practices Commission. The amount is almost $500,000 more than Schwarzenegger solicited to pay for his inaugural earlier this year, and it’s almost three times as much as Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, requested that donors give his favorite causes. Brown’s donors split the $2.3 million between the Oakland Military Institute and the Oakland School for the Arts, two charter schools the former Oakland mayor founded. “He loves those schools and he’s said he’ll continue to support them,” Brown spokesman Gareth Lacy said Thursday. State politicians soliciting donations for charities � the FPPC calls it behesting payments � has been a common practice for years. But it’s one that rarely received the same public scrutiny as campaign contributions or spending on lobbyists, until the FPPC started posting reported donations online this week. It’s perfectly legal so long as state lawmakers or elected officials report donations over $5,000 made at their request. On top of pleasing a politician, donors can still receive the usual tax deduction for their charitable contributions, said Bill Steiner, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service. “If I’m being coerced somehow, though, that’s very different,” Steiner said. “But that’s very difficult to prove.” Many donations made on Brown’s behalf came from large charitable foundations or philanthropic trusts, including the Menlo Park-based Roberts Foundation and the HTN Foundation in Aliso Viejo, which contributed $250,000 each. Other big payments came from the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. ($100,000) and the General Atlantic Corp. ($200,000), a global equity firm. Records also show that Brown directed payments from companies that the attorney general’s office regulates, including five card rooms in Southern California. Hewlett-Packard gave $25,000 to the Oakland Military Institute in October, just 10 months after the company paid $14.5 million to settle allegations by the state that HP officials used false pretenses to obtain the personal records of board members and a reporter. Also contributing $5,000 on Brown’s behalf in May was the San Diego law firm of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins. The firm has since dropped William Lerach’s name. (The famed lawyer pleaded guilty last month to a federal charge of conspiring to provide kickbacks to plaintiffs in class actions.) Lacy said he didn’t know the details of how Brown solicited donations for the two schools or whether he had established any guidelines for contributors who do business with or are regulated by the Department of Justice. “It’s his personal activity,” Lacy said.

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