Why is PG&E attacking Leno on education?

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It’s not like schools are their business – at all. But the $13 billion utility company is the big money behind recent television ads depicting Mark Leno as a foe of children and schools.

“San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno claims that he’s for better schools,” the ad informs, according to a transcript provided by the California Teacher’s Association. “Yet in 2004, it was Leno who joined Republicans, and with one vote to spare, cut $3.1 billion from California schools.”

Actually, said CTA in a news release, “It distorts Leno’s support for a state budget in 2004 that temporarily reduced some funding for schools. The budget was approved by the Legislature with bipartisan support in that financially difficult year for the state.”

CTA, which represents 90 percent of the state’s educators, endorsed Leno in the District 3 State Senate race, and held a rally today in Mill Valley to affirm their support and criticize PG&E.

“Why is PG&E behind this?” CTA’s Mike Myslinski wondered when we spoke to him. “Leno has a strong education record and parents and teachers are very disturbed by this ad.”

The ad was attributed to a political action committee called “Protect Our Kids,” which late independent expenditure filings [PDF] with the CA Secretary of State show is heavily funded by CALIFORNIANS FOR A CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE, A COALITION OF ENVIRONMENTALISTS, TAXPAYERS, AND PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY. [PDF]

Looks like the San Francisco Police Officers Association, as well as a couple of out of state companies, also kicked in to cover the $100,000 in cash that’s been spent on anti-Leno propaganda that has nothing to do with energy – clean or otherwise. But, as CTA points out, "The PG&E-funded ad comes at a time when one of Leno’s opponents in the Senate race, Joe Nation, is being criticized for his huge financial support from business interests. PG&E is a supporter of Nation."

It wasn't all that long ago Leno was shaking hands with PG&E over at the LGBT center.