Brunner Accuses Opponent of ‘Pay-To-Play’ Politics; Parker Calls Attack ‘Laughable’

Barbara Parker, Jane Brunner

ELECTION ’12//OAKLAND CITY ATTORNEY | Oakland Councilwoman Jane Brunner recently sent scathing emails to voters attacking City Attorney Barbara Parker and accusing her of accepting campaign donations from attorneys at law firms currently receiving contracts from the City of Oakland. Brunner also accuses her opponent for the city attorney race of “pay-to-play” politics, which Parker denies.

In the emails, Brunner cites 28 percent, or $34,000, of Parker’s contributions, according to campaign finance reports, came from attorneys whose firms receive outside contracts. The emails further state these attorneys received more than “$8.7 million in outside contracts from the City Attorney’s Office in the past three years.”

Brunner’s emails recite campaign rhetoric recently espoused at two previous city attorney forums concerning the expensive financial expenditures used to contract out legal work to outside attorneys. Brunner considers these costs to be an example of bureaucratic mishandling of funds. The councilwoman also described the financial disclosures as an exposé.

“Now we see the very attorneys who benefited greatly from these contracts and these settlements contributing to the election campaign of the appointed city attorney. For too long attorneys and outside law firms have looked to Oakland as a cash cow – an easy mark for contracts and settlements,” said Brunner in the email.

Parker said in a message posted on her campaign Facebook page that those who know her would find these accusations “laughable.” “I was disappointed to see Councilmember Brunner use personnel attacks in an effort to win this election. In her emails, Brunner absurdly referred to me as a ‘pay to play’ politician.”

Parker also insinuating Brunner’s attacks constitute a double standard. “Councilmember Brunner’s attacks against me were strange because a significant portion of Councilmember Brunner’s political contributions in this election have come from developers, lobbyists, and others with business before the City Council, including before Ms. Brunner’s own committee,” said Parker. “Ms. Brunner also has solicited contributions from attorneys whose law firms have done or wish to do business with the city, including attorneys who have contributed to my campaign.”

Shane Bond is a regular contributor to the East Bay Citizen.