Oil Firm and Utility Give Champagne Breakfast for Brown Backers
NEW YORK (AP) _ After months of railing against special interests, Jerry Brown visited his California delegates Tuesday as they wolfed down a champagne breakfast paid for by a giant oil company and a utility.
″I’m about to give my breakfast back,″ said delegate Donna Schoenkopf of Thousand Oaks, Calif., gesturing that she might throw up. ″It conflicts with everything we stand for.″
Brown urged the crowd to ″stop the power of the few″ as he stood before a red-white-and-blue sign saying ″Compliments of Arco and Southern California Edison.″ Stretched before him was a lavish layout of delicacies.
He sounded the familiar themes of his anti-corruption, special interest- bashing, take-it-to-the-people campaign, which limited contributions to $100 while other candidates accepted up to $1,000.
Asked by reporters whether the breakfast clashed with his message, Brown insisted he was unaware that corporations had picked up the tab.
″I do object to that. But as long as I’m a Democrat I have to come here and preach the doctrine of real political reform,″ Brown said. ″...I don’t like the way this convention was financed. I don’t like fact there’s big money impugning the party.″
The breakfast at the Grand Hyatt’s posh Empire State Ballroom was among dozens of free receptions given by companies and lobby groups for Democratic National Convention delegates.
Arco spokesman Joseph Cerrell said the breakfast was for all California delegates, not just Brown’s. But Brown’s supporters were by far the most numerous of the 600 people at the breakfast.
Some Brown delegates were left with an uneasy feeling.
″We ought to shame them by taking these boxes of food and taking them to people on the streets who aren’t able to be here,″ said Barney Vogel of Ukiah, Calif., pointing to a silver cart where boxes of fruit were stored.
Said delegate Mark Notarian: ″From my perspective, I don’t approve of the system, but my mother didn’t raise a fool - for me it’s a matter of survival.″ Notarian came to New York with just $250, and has been bumming free lodging and food.
″It’s a terribly inappropriate thing to be happening,″ said Rachel Binchi. She said she was upset over Arco’s environmental record as a producer of fossil fuels.
Ms. Schoenkopf said the breakfast wasn’t the delegation’s first encounter with special interests at the convention. She said her welcome box included a baseball cap with a Coca-Cola logo.
″I’d like to get them all in a pile and burn them,″ she said.
San Francisco Supervisor Angela Alioto said the corporate sponsorship was unfortunate, but ″if we want to speak ... we’re forced to be here.″
Others said they felt hypocritical but wanted to see Brown.
″I think the American people truly feel the reason the American system is not responsive to them is because the parties are so dependent on the giving of special influence,″ said Saiji Sugawaia, of Ukiah, Calif.