Biz resumes may hurt Cali politicians

Jeff Tyler May 25, 2010
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Biz resumes may hurt Cali politicians

Jeff Tyler May 25, 2010
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Kai Ryssdal: President Obama will be in San Francisco tonight. He’s headlining a campaign fundraiser for Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer there. One reason Boxer needs the money? One of her possible opponents this fall is former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. After piling up personal fortunes in the private sector, it’s not uncommon for corporate bigwigs to give politics a go. Here in California, besides Fiorina, former executives from eBay and Facebook are running. But a business-world resume can sometimes backfire.

Marketplace’s Jeff Tyler reports.


JEFF TYLER: Once upon a time, Meg Whitman ran eBay and sat on the board of Goldman Sachs. Now, in the race to become California’s governor, Republican opponents are using Whitman’s business connections against her.

AD: Whitman’s entire fortune is intertwined with Goldman Sachs. She helped manage Goldman and received sweetheart stock deals so unethical, they were outlawed.

How much do voters care about skeletons in the corporate closet?

BARBARA O’Connor: They don’t really take unless the public is already listening to the arguments about the issue.

That’s Barbara O’Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media. She says Whitman’s ties to Goldman Sachs resonate because voters are already upset with Wall Street. O’Connor says another candidate on the wrong side of public discourse is Chris Kelly. Kelly’s a candidate for attorney-general, but he used to be the head of privacy for Facebook.

O’Connor: In the last couple weeks, we’ve had privacy day and various other issues. So Chris Kelly’s claims that he’s the privacy maven, coming out of Facebook, are really ones that people may dispute.

Political adversaries aren’t the only ones digging for dirt.

Dan Gainor with the conservative Media Research Center says the press is inconsistent when evaluating ties between businesses and politicians.

DAN Gainor: They assume businesses, particularly financial businesses, support Republicans. But in fact, what we’ve found is that they support Democrats. And Wall Street in particular.

Wall Street wheeler-dealers make good villains, but there is still one group that has a worse reputation. You guessed it: incumbents.

In Los Angeles, I’m Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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