California Governor Jerry Brown has been one of the fiercest critics of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. At the Democratic National Convention in July, Brown launched a torrent of invective against Trump: “Trump is a fraud,” he said.
But there was a time when Brown didn’t think Trump was such a “fraud.” In fact, there was a time when Brown sought Trump’s help to build a casino in Oakland, even traveling to Atlantic City, New Jersey in 2001 and meeting Trump to make his case.
At the time, Brown was the mayor of Oakland, and attended the Conference of Mayors in Atlantic City, which was hosted at Trump’s Taj Mahal hotel and casino. While there, Brown reportedly discussed the possibility of Trump building a new casino in Oakland.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported in May 2001:
Jerry Brown and Donald Trump might not seem the most natural of partners – – but don’t rule it out.
While attending the recent Conference of Mayors in Atlantic City, N.J., Oakland’s mayor and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente dined with The Donald, the East Coast king of the casino hotel business.
Brown was the keynote speaker at the event and shared the head table with Trump, who owns three casinos in Atlantic City.
It wasn’t long before the conversation naturally turned to the casino business, and Trump expressed interest in “development opportunities” in Oakland.
“I want a Trump Tower in downtown Oakland,” Brown said, half-joking. “Hopefully, it will be over 30 stories,” he said, expressing his desire to top the 24-story Clorox Building.
The Chronicle wasn’t the only paper to report on Brown’s attempt to recruit Trump.
On March 19, 2002, the Contra Costa Times reported that Brown had been trying to sell Trump on turning the closed Oakland Army Base into a casino:
Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown began touting the Army base as a possible casino site more than a year ago. Brown’s effort intensified after he visited Atlantic City, N.J., where he met with Donald Trump, who owns three casinos there.
Records which the Times obtained last year through the state Public Records Law, show that Roger Stone, a Trump consultant and Republican political strategist, then advised Brown on the possibilities of luring an Indian tribe to the site for a possible casino.
With Gov. Gray Davis opposed to casinos in urban areas, Brown’s best chance appears to involve finding a federally recognized Indian tribe without land and having the tribe, in turn, ask the federal government to declare the Army base property “sovereign” tribal land.
That is a far different Jerry Brown than the one who is attacking Trump today.
In March, Brown excoriated Trump for his idea to build a wall on the southern border with Mexico. At that time, Brown joked, “If Trump were ever elected, we’d have to build a wall around California to defend ourselves from the rest of this country.”
In August 2015, Brown lamented the idea of Trump becoming the GOP nominee. “Oh, my God,” is all he could say when asked about the possibility.
But when Brown wanted Trump’s help with his pet casino project, The Donald certainly seemed less than a “fraud.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.