Poizner’s positions have shifted more than was widely known


Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner has said his experience as state insurance commissioner has “crystallized” his thinking as a conservative. A document obtained by The Times shows that Poizner, who in past campaigns described himself as a moderate, has apparently shifted more than previously known.

Steve Poizner: An article about Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner in Friday’s LATExtra section said that he expressed support for needle exchange programs on a 2004 questionnaire from the NAACP. He expressed support for such programs on a questionnaire from BAYMEC, a gay and lesbian group. The article also omitted a word from a quote summarizing Poizner’s response to a question about reparations for African Americans on an NAACP questionnaire. Poizner wrote that he supported justice for people who suffer “documented” harm and discrimination. —

A memo marked “Confidential” and “Draft,” the document was compiled by longtime Poizner aide Jesse Huff for the 2006 insurance commissioner race. It summarized positions the candidate had taken for his losing 2004 Assembly run using questionnaires he had filled out that year for various interest groups.

Poizner earned a 100% rating in 2004 from the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice California for his answers on its survey, according to Amy Everitt, the group’s state director. According to the summary of those positions obtained by The Times, Poizner told NARAL that he would oppose restrictions on state funding for prenatal care or abortion services for undocumented women.

This year, a main theme in his campaign has been ending such services for illegal immigrants. On Thursday at a campaign rally held by Poizner’s main rival, frontrunner Meg Whitman, his supporters stood on the street bearing signs that read: “Stop forced taxpayer funding of the California abortion holocaust.”

Poizner’s answer on NARAL’s questionnaire undercuts his contention that in 1994 — 10 years before filling out the group’s form — he supported Proposition 187, the ballot initiative intended to take most public services away from illegal immigrants.

The document shows that Poizner told NARAL in 2004 that he would oppose state legislation banning late-term abortions, oppose prohibitions on abortion services at public facilities and oppose the provision of public funding for “stealth anti-choice clinics” known as crisis pregnancy centers. He promised to protect a young woman’s right to have an abortion without notification of her parents, but today he says he backs a proposal to require parental notification.

Though he and Whitman both say they are pro-choice, they’ve both been attempting to use abortion as a wedge issue. Whitman has used Poizner’s past surveys to say he is in favor of “partial birth” abortion; he has attacked her for backing public funding of abortion.

Poizner spokesman Jarrod Agen said the candidate has been attacked by groups including Planned Parenthood, which also gave him a 100% rating in 2004, because “they disagree with the policies that Steve would implement as governor to drive the number of abortions down to zero.”

Everitt, who previously worked with Poizner on an education advocacy group, criticized Whitman for attacking him on positions similar to those she has claimed to hold.

The summary of his 2004 positions says Poizner told BAYMEC, a group representing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, that he opposed a constitutional ban on gay marriage, though he has said he voted for Proposition 8 in 2008, which passed and imposed just that.

He told the NAACP in 2004 that he supports current law, “which gives communities the right to implement a needle exchange program if they so choose.” Asked on the NAACP questionnaire about reparations for African Americans, Poizner said that “any individual who suffers harm and discrimination for their racial affiliation deserves justice,” Huff’s summary said.

Poizner also told the group he would support a moratorium on the death penalty “in cases where there are evident abuses of the system.”