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PolitiFact: Whitman's pro-Boxer letter constitutes support

The statement

California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman "contributed to, and campaigned, for" Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Steve Poizner in a campaign ad

The ruling

The Republican primary to succeed Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor of California has spawned ads attacking both Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, and Steve Poizner, the state insurance commissioner, the frontrunners for the nomination.

One Poizner ad says Whitman "contributed to, and campaigned, for" Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, a liberal unpopular with GOP voters.

A search of campaign donors shows Whitman made three donations totaling $8,000 to entities linked to Boxer in November 2003. But did she campaign for Boxer?

Whitman joined 14 other Silicon Valley executives in signing what was labeled "An Open Letter to California's Technology Community," that was written on "Barbara Boxer for Senate" letterhead dated April 30, 2003.

It said: "Join us in supporting U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in her campaign for re-election in 2004. Senator Boxer is a dynamic and courageous leader for high technology and biotechnology communities, and she is making a difference for us every day."

Whitman's campaign has argued that she did this in order to help her company. "As CEO of an online commerce leader, Meg backed Sen. Boxer because of her efforts with Republican Sen. George Allen to fight taxes on the Internet," said Whitman spokesman Dan Comstock.

Boxer wasn't alone in that stance: The Sacramento Bee noted that all of Boxer's GOP opponents were against the tax.

Did she campaign for Boxer? "Campaigning'' brings to mind public appearances, phone calls. Signing a letter is more of an endorsement.

Whitman's campaign said she did nothing more for Boxer than to sign the letter, and no evidence contradicts that. Whether that constitutes "campaigning" is a judgment call. But Whitman supported Boxer financially and rhetorically, so we rate Poizner's claim Mostly True.

PolitiFact: Whitman's pro-Boxer letter constitutes support 05/20/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 20, 2010 9:38pm]
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