Group: Claim by candidate wasn't accurate

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is distancing itself from state Senate candidate Bret de St. Jeor of Oakdale, who in a recorded interview claimed the advocacy group regretted endorsing his opponent.

The influential taxpayers group is the second organization that has said de St. Jeor mischaracterized its conversations with him.

De St. Jeor also claimed that Republican state Sen. Dave Cogdill of Modesto had pledged to support him and offered to steer $40,000 to him. Cogdill's office said that claim was not correct, either.

Cogdill and the taxpayers group endorsed Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, who is running to replace Cogdill in the 14th Senate District. The district runs from Modesto to Fresno through foothill counties.

Kris Vosburgh, executive director of the taxpayers group, said de St. Jeor approached his group after it had endorsed Berryhill.

Vosburgh said he regretted that de St. Jeor hadn't approached the group earlier so it could have given him more attention.

That said, Vosburgh added that the group likely would have endorsed Berryhill because it tends to back incumbents who have a record in Sacramento.

"A good track record always trumps good intentions," Vosburgh said.

In an interview with The Bee's editorial board, de St. Jeor said he rejected Cogdill's offer of support because he "didn't think it was right."

He said the taxpayers association "told me they wished they had endorsed me, but that they had already endorsed another candidate and they thought they made a mistake."

Cogdill's office said he met with de St. Jeor but talked generally about politics. He did not pledge an endorsement or support, Cogdill spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart said.

De St. Jeor, who owns a packaging company and is digging into his own pocket to support his campaign, said, "Obviously we took something different from that conversation."

Berryhill campaign manager, Steve Presson, said de St. Jeor's remarks reflect inexperience in politics.

"He's not ready to be the representative of the 14th Senate District," Presson said.

Bee Assistant City Editor Adam Ashton can be reached at or 578-2366.