Jerry Brown or Aide Recorded Calling Meg Whitman a "Whore"

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Either California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown or one of his associates was inadvertently caught on an audio recording referring to Brown's Republican opponent Meg Whitman as a "whore," the Los Angeles Times reports.

The recording was captured when Brown, the state's attorney general, left a voicemail with the Los Angeles Police Protective League in early September seeking out the group's support. The police union has endorsed Whitman, who promised to exempt public safety workers from her pension reform plan. Brown was reportedly under pressure to make the same pledge.

After Brown left his message with the police union, he apparently did not hang up the phone completely. On a recording of the voicemail, which the union provided to the L.A. Times (available here and below), Brown can be heard complaining about the pension negotiations. The following conversation can be clearly heard after Brown believes he is no longer on the phone:

Brown: "Do we want to put an ad out? ... That I have been warned if I crack down on pensions, I will be -- that they'll go to Whitman, and that's where they'll go because they know Whitman will give 'em, will cut them a deal, but I won't."

Unidentified voice: "What about saying she's a whore?"

Brown: "Well, I'm going to use that. It proves you've cut a secret deal to protect the pensions."

The Brown campaign confirmed the tape's authenticity to the L.A. Times but said it could not determine who referred to Whitman as "whore." Campaign spokesperson Sterling Clifford said after listening to the recording that he was "confident" it was not Brown. The L.A. Times reports an enhanced version of the recording makes it unclear whether it was Brown or someone else.

Brown's campaign manager Steven Glazer said, "We apologize to Ms. Whitman and anyone who may have been offended."

Whitman spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said in a statement: "The use of the term 'whore' is an insult to both Meg Whitman and to the women of California. This is an appalling and unforgivable smear against Meg Whitman. At the very least Mr. Brown tacitly approved this despicable slur and he himself may have used the term at least once on this recording."

The audio recording is just the latest twist in a dramatic race. Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, has spent a record-breaking $140 million in the race, but she and Brown remain neck-and-neck in polls. The race was shaken up last week with allegations that Whitman knowingly kept an illegal immigrant as her housekeeper.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Campaign 2010

Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.

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