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POWER CRISIS: Republicans Blast Governor's Hiring Of Democratic Advisers (KFWB/AP) --

Governor Gray Davis, a political bull's eye during the energy crisis, is getting more criticism for hiring two Democratic political consultants.

Davis is up for re-election next year, and has been mentioned as a possible challenger to Republican President Bush in 2004.

Republicans criticized Davis for spending tax money on what they described as "a partisan, cutthroat political communications firm" that previously advised Vice President Al Gore.

The Democratic governor has hired Chris Lehane, former Gore press secretary, and Mark Fabiani, a deputy campaign manager for Gore's presidential run, for six months at $30,000 a month.

Davis said the firm will coordinate the governor's communications staff on energy issues and help recruit a new director of communications.

"California taxpayers should not be asked to finance political consultants," Senate GOP Leader Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga and Assembly Republican Leader Dave Cox of Fair Oaks said in a letter to Davis. "Should you insist on maintaining this relationship, it would be most appropriate to pay the bill with campaign funds."

California Republican Party Chairman Shawn Steel accused Davis of recruiting the Democratic operatives to shore up his poll numbers that have sagged because of the state's energy crisis.

Davis press secretary Steve Maviglio responded: "The Republican leaders should be spending as much energy writing letters to President Bush urging him to institute temporary price caps as they're spending on petty partisan politics."

The Republicans called the decision "financially irresponsible" given the budget cuts Davis announced last week.

They said the pair has a conflict of interest because they previously advised Southern California Edison, which is negotiating for state help in avoiding bankruptcy. Davis is proposing the state pay Edison $2.76 billion for its power transmission lines to help pay the utility's debt.

They also said the hiring "sends the wrong message" because Davis has been calling for bipartisan cooperation in solving the state's energy problems.

The Republican leaders did not criticize Davis' hiring of Gore's former deputy chief of staff, Nancy McFadden, as a senior adviser at an annual salary of $118,000. She will concentrate on the governor's relations with federal regulators and with generators.

-- PHO (, May 22, 2001


The long arm of politics never seems to absent itself from wwhat should be pure governmental policy decisions.

-- JackW (, May 22, 2001.

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