The Chicago Syndicate: Jerry Brown Alleged to have Mob Ties
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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Jerry Brown Alleged to have Mob Ties

A book revives decades-old charges that California attorney general candidate and Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown had close ties with individuals related to organized crime during Brown’s tenure in the 1970s as governor of California.

Written by respected investigative journalist Gus Russo and published by the American division of British publishers Bloomsbury, the book, Supermob: How Sidney Korshak and His Criminal Associates Became America's Hidden Power Brokers, charges in part that during the 1970s, Brown took campaign contributions from mob figures and, in return, granted them political favors.

Russo has written several books on organized crime, including The Outfit: The Role of Chicago’s Underworld in the Shaping of Modern America, Live By The Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death ofJFK, and Gangsters and Goodfellas: Wiseguys, Witness Protection, and Life on the Run.

Ace Smith, a campaign consultant for the Brown campaign, called the allegations “wacky and nutty” and “laughably idiotic.” When the Daily Planet offered to fax the Brown campaign copies of the passages from Russo’s book that make reference to Brown, Smith said, “I don’t need to see any passages from the book to make a comment. This is like talking about Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. These allegations have about as much credibility as Al Capone’s vault.”

In his book, Russo repeats allegations that Brown ran for governor in 1974 with the help of several figures with alleged organized crime ties, including the powerful Hollywood attorney Sidney Korshak, whom the Bloomsbury book describes as “the underworld’s primary link to the corporate upperworld” and “according to the FBI, [the] player behind countless 20th century power mergers, political deals, and organized crime chicaneries.”

Korshak, who died in 1996 and is described by Russo as a “pal” of Brown’s father, Governor Pat Brown, has a thick online file on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s website that alleges extensive ties to organized crime. Russo writes that a 1978 report on California’s Organized Crime Control Commission issued by then-California Attorney General Evelle Younger called Korshak “the key link between organized crime and big business … A U.S. Justice Department official has described Korshak as a ‘senior advisor’ to organized crime groups” in several states, including California.

“When Brown enlisted electronics mogul Richard Silberman … as his chief fund-raiser [for the 1974 campaign],” Russo writes in Supermob, “it quickly became apparent that the same Chicago money that had transformed California in the forties would continue to play a key role in the seventies. (Silberman would be convicted in a 1991 FBI drug-ring money-laundering scheme.) Thus, with a brilliant media campaign, massive contributions from the likes of Lew Wasserman, Jake ‘the Barber’ Factor, and later Sidney Korshak, Brown defeated [Republican State Controller Houston] Flournoy by 175,000 votes.”

In return, Russo alleges in his book that Brown gave favors back to alleged mob figures, including appointing the brother-in-law of Teamsters union leader and Korshak associate Edward Hanley as one of the directors of the California Agricultural Association, which Russo says “named the concessionaires at all the state’s racetracks and county fairs.”

Russo alleges that profits from these concessions were later “skimmed” off and sent to reported mob figures. In addition, Russo alleges that Brown once tried to close down the Hollywood Park racetrack as a favor to Korshak, who Russo says “was … trying to pave the way for an organized crime takeover of the facility.”

The racetrack allegations were so widely reported in California at the time that they later became the subject of a series of Doonesbury cartoons by Gary Trudeau. In one Doonesbury strip reprinted in Supermob, Trudeau depicts a reporter talking on the telephone to a Brown associate only named “Gray,” a reference to then-Jerry Brown Chief of Staff Gray Davis. “Let me get this straight, Gray—who exactly did Jerry solicit the contribution from?” the reporter asks. “A guy named Sidney Korshak,” ‘Gray’ answers. “He’s the local low-life, an alumnus from the Capone mob.”

Brown was quoted in Time Magazine in July of 1979 that he thought the Doonesbury cartoons were “false and libelous, but I’m flattered by the attention.”

When Gray Davis ran for governor in 1998, the San Francisco Chronicle made reference to the old allegations, with political reporter Robert Gunnison writing that “Brown … appointed [Davis] to the California Horse Racing Board in 1979. It was a particularly volatile time for the panel. Critics said he was appointed to help Service Employees International Union clerks during a strike at Golden Gate Fields. The union’s lawyer, Sidney Korshak, was alleged by the state attorney general to be an organized crime figure.”

Russo alleges that Korshak’s influence on California governors was not limited to Brown and his father, but also included Ronald Reagan. Russo also alleges that Korshak sought to help Brown achieve higher office past the California governship, writing that “Korshak’s Service Employees Union … dispatched workers and cars” to New Hamphsire in 1979 “to assist Brown’s effort” in the primary against Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter.

Some of Russo’s information concerning the allegations of the Brown-organized crime connection came from the Berkeley Daily Planet reporter Richard Brenneman, who wrote news articles on the issue in the 1970s while a reporter with the Santa Monica Evening Outlook. Brenneman is listed in the book as a source.

Thanks to J. Douglas Allen-Tayler

1 comment:

  1. It was in 1976 or 77 summer in Palm Springs at Paul D’amico’s restaurant I watched my step father take pictures of Mr.Brown, Paul D’amico, William Demerest and a few definite shady , well dressed men . I only took notice because he was being very sneaky while taking the pictures , and when I noticed it was the guy I remembered as uncle Charlie from My Three Sons did I watch even more intensely . I was told to sit down and not stare , later after we ate , the owner I guess it was Mr.D’amico himself came over and talked to my step father Joe Dan Dwyer , who you will find if you look up Reed Springs Missouri Mayor who was quite a criminal himself . After the dinner we went back to the hotel , next day Joe left many times each time coming back more anxious. Second day we left , he made my mom go into a drug store place and she came back with large yellow envelope , Joe was excited it seemed . He took a couple looked like large photos out , handed back the envelope to my mom and said these words I’ll never forget “ keep these safer than anything you have , it’s our future “ on the way out of town we stopped back at the restaurant and he took the few photos inside he had taken out of envelope . He came back a while later with what I think was a small Manila envelope very thick and I could see paper money bulging out . We left for the rest of the trip . A few years after , I found the large envelope in my mothers closet , opened and there were two large photos of the guys I seen that night , it must have been what he photographed , I wanted to show my friend uncle Charlie’s picture , I remember clearly it was Jerry Brown shaking the hand of one of the FBI looking guys , my mother found me and took them away and said never mess with it again. Joe was a bad man and abusing us , they separated many times , each time he would stalk us and harass us . On one of the occasions he brought some weird guy and while they were there somehow took the envelope, I was only about 12 then and didn’t catch on the distracting way they pulled it off . My mother later told me that it was something worth more money than I could imagine , it was never mentioned why , but after finally contacting Joe Dwyer when I grew up, he told me it was insurance in case his injury lawsuit never panned out . That was all he said . I am 100% sure this was something he would try to use to blackmail one of those men , and now I know why .



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