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How Much From Special Interests?

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CBS-TV Evening News (National)
Nov 03, 2005 - 01:00 AM

by ANCHOR: BOB SCHIEFFER - REPORTER: VINCE GONZALES

Accusations that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been catering to special interest groups

BOB SCHIEFFER, anchor: In California, political troubles continue to grow for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His political agenda is on the line in a series of ballot measures next week, but much of the pre-Election Day talk is about his massive fund-raising and special interests. Vince Gonzales has our report.

Governor ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (Republican, California): (From July 19, 2004) And I have put the special interests on notice.

VINCE GONZALES reporting: Almost any time Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gets near a microphone, he takes aim at special interests.

Gov. SCHWARZENEGGER: (From July 19, 2004) The only thing that I say to them is, 'Hasta la vista, baby!'

GONZALES: That's been the theme ever since he announced he was running for governor.

Mr. SCHWARZENEGGER: (From "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," courtesy Big Dog Productions, August 6, 2003) I do not have to bow to any special interests. I have plenty of money. No one can pay me off, trust me. No one.

Mr. DOUG HELLER (Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights): That was his Oscar performance, because it turned out it was just a fraud. It was just fiction.

GONZALES: Doug Heller and other government watchdogs say when it comes to raising special interest cash, the governor has far outpaced the man he ousted, Gray Davis.

Mr. HELLER: He's in hock to the special interests.

GONZALES: Heller points to bills the governor vetoed on just one day last month. He vetoed a bill opposed by Wal-Mart. That same day, records show an Arkansas homemaker, Christy Walton, heir to the Wal-Mart fortune, donated a quarter of a million dollars to his political causes. Eleven days later, another quarter-million came from Wal-Mart's chairman.

He vetoed a pesticide regulation bill opposed by wine makers and wholesalers. That day, one wine group donated a hundred thousand dollars. The governor also vetoed a bill the insurance industry didn't like, and that day an industry group gave $105,000.

Most of the money went to the governor's California Recovery Team, which supports his political agenda and initiatives. The governor's spokesman rejected any claim money paid a role in the vetoes, saying, 'It's a baseless accusation that there's some kind of connection between policy and donations.'

Group of People: (Chanting in unison) ...Schwarzenegger has got to go. Hey, hey, ho, ho...

GONZALES: All sides in this special election are raising record sums of cash, and the governor's staff says he's being outspent by opponents so he has to accept donations. The governor's office said he was too busy campaigning to sit down for an interview...

Gov. SCHWARZENEGGER: I cannot be bought. That is the key thing.

GONZALES: ...but this is what he told a reporter at a CBS station earlier this year.

HANK PLANTE (KPIX-TV Reporter): When you take $350,000 from the drug companies and then veto four prescription drug bills, you can't connect the dots on that?

Gov. SCHWARZENEGGER: Absolutely not. I veto the bills that are bad for California. It's that simple.

GONZALES: It's not that simple for many California voters. He's plummeted in the polls, and according to one survey, half now believe he caters to special interests as much or more than other politicians. Vince Gonzales, CBS News, Los Angeles.




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