By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS -- Hollywood director Rob Reiner denied any wrongdoing Thursday in response to recent scrutiny about the potential misuse of taxpayer funds for a June ballot initiative he is spearheading. Reiner heads — and helped create — the state's First 5 California Children and Families Commission, an advocacy group.
He also is leading a campaign for a ballot initiative that would establish a state constitutional right to preschool for all 4-year-olds and raise income taxes for wealthier households to fund preschool programs.
A Los Angeles Times story earlier this week detailed how the Children and Families commission spent $23 million in state funds on ads that promoted the benefits of preschool. The television ads aired this winter, coinciding with the campaign for Reiner's "Preschool for All" initiative, Proposition 82.
The commission also earlier paid for a political consultant who now is the campaign manager of Proposition 82, the story noted.
Reiner's commission is funded from tobacco tax proceeds. State law prohibits the use of public funds for campaign activities.
Reiner's attorneys have asserted that the commission ads were legal and proper, and the entertainer-turned-activist on Thursday dismissed the Times story as "the price of being a public figure."
When asked to comment about the money spent on the commission's ads following a speech he gave in San Jose on Proposition 82, Reiner said: "There is absolutely no conflict of interest."