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The Buzz: Jerry Brown’s law school prof warns against ‘moral escalation’ in politics

Brown veto of ethics bill

cites melting pot of sources

Leave it to Gov. Jerry Brown to include in a veto message a reference to a 50-year-old essay that makes its point with examples from Plato, the New Testament and traditions of the Alaska Native Tlingit people.

A ritual practiced by that Alaskan tribe forms the basis for the title of “The Purity Potlatch” by Bayless Manning, one of Brown’s law professors from Yale.

Brown referred to the essay in vetoing Senate Bill 1443, a measure Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, wrote after a spate of ethical crises in the Senate this year. It would have reduced from $440 to $200 the value of gifts public officials may receive, prohibited them from taking certain gifts, such as concert tickets and sporting events, and barred gifts from lobbyists.

Manning says tighter regulations on political behavior “are no longer really designed to affect substantive behavior. They are now in large measure ritualistic.”

The essay closes with what Brown may have read as a direct message to him: “We may hope that there will be men in high office who will have the insight, courage, and political security to resist unlimited moral escalation and the purity potlatch.”

Laurel Rosenhall

Worth repeating

“I am the guy who tried to elevate the EPA to Cabinet-level status … I am not your typical Republican.”

Doug Ose, congressional candidate, about efforts to paint him as a lockstep conservative.

Campaign watch

With a month to go until the Nov. 4 election, independent committees representing hospitals, unions and other special interests have spent more than $3.5 million in legislative races. Through Thursday, almost $683,000 had been spent in Los Angeles’ 64th Assembly District, where Democrats Prophet Walker and Mike Gipson are running. Almost $628,000 had been spent in Orange County’s 34th Senate District, a top legislative battleground pitting Republican Janet Nguyen and Democrat Jose Solorio.

Jim Miller