"I mean Clinton's a nice guy, but who ever said he always told the truth?" Brown told a crowd at the opening of a Democratic Party office in East Los Angeles. "You remember, right? There's that whole story there about did he or didn't he. OK, I did — I did not have taxes with this state."
The last line was an oblique play on Clinton's defense against the brewing sex scandal in early 1998. At the time, Clinton asserted, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." It was later proven that he did, and he subsequently faced impeachment proceedings.
Brown's comments were captured Sunday at an unannounced visit to the Democratic Party office. Video of his comments surfaced on a political news website on Monday. Several hours later, Brown called a news conference and apologized.
"Bill Clinton was an excellent president," Brown said in Oakland. "It was certainly wrong for me to joke about an incident from many, many years ago, and I'm sorry for that."