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City News Service
Mar 20, 2006 - 01:00 AM


Big-Bucks Fund-Raiser Draws Governor's Backers to Beverly Hills

BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign got a much- needed infusion of at least $2 million thanks to a fund-raiser tonight in Beverly Hills featuring a speech by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Because of the campaign on behalf of four ballot measures that were rejected in the Nov. 8 special election, committees under Schwarzenegger's control had just more than $900,000 as of Dec. 31, far behind the two leading Democratic challengers.

Controller Steve Westly's committees had more than $24 million while Treasurer Phil Angelides' had more than $18.4 million.

The latest filing period ended Friday, with candidates required to file reports by Wednesday.

Tickets for the fund-raiser at the Beverly Hilton, which also benefitted the California Republican Party and was closed to reporters, started at $1,000.

A bronze sponsor paid $10,000 and received a table for 10, two tickets for the host committee reception and a picture with Schwarzenegger, according to a copy of the invitation posted on the Web site of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a Santa Monica-based consumer watchdog organization.

Silver sponsors paid $25,000 for a table of 10 with preferred seating, four tickets for the host committee reception and two pictures with Schwarzenegger.

For $50,000, gold sponsors received head table seating with Schwarzenegger for one, a table of 10 with "premiere seating," six tickets for the host committee reception and three pictures with Schwarzenegger.

Platinum sponsors paid $100,000 for head table seating with Schwarzenegger for two, six pictures with Schwarzenegger, 12 tickets for the host committee reception, along with a table of 10 with "premiere seating."

Platinum sponsors for the dinner included developer Rick Caruso; Jerry Perenchio, who heads the Spanish-language Univision network; San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos and Terry Semel, the former Warner Bros. chairman and co-chief executive officer who became chairman and chief executive officer of Yahoo!

Academy Award winner James Cameron, who directed Schwarzenegger in the first two "Terminator" films and "True Lies," was among the gold sponsors. Fitness pioneer Joe Weider, Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding mentor, was a silver sponsor.

Bronze sponsors included movie and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Peter Chernin, the president and chief operating officer of the News Corp., the parent company of 20th Century Fox and Fox Broadcasting.

The California Nurses Association conducted a demonstration outside the fund-raiser on behalf of a proposed ballot measure that would establish a system of public financing of campaigns and limit corporate contributions to ballot measures.

"When he ran for office, he said that he was going to make fundamental changes to the system and yet he is perpetuating the system in an even more exacerbated manner by the amount of fund raising he is doing," Jill Furillo, the Southern California director of the California Nurses Association, told KCAL9.

Schwarzenegger said last week the absence of public financing means that every California candidate has to engage in fund raising.

"You can't get around that," Schwarzenegger said.

About 20 members of the nurses group entered the hotel, pushing a oversized bar of soap with "Come Clean Arnold," written on it.

"There is an outbreak of political corruption and we're here to clean it up," one of the protesters said.

The group was denied entrance into the ballroom where the dinner was held. No arrests were made, according to Beverly Hills police Sgt. Wes Takahashi.

A group of school employees marched outside the hotel, calling on Schwarzenegger to increase spending on education.

The California Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission March 6, alleging McCain's attendance at the dinner would violate campaign finance laws restricting federal officeholders from taking part in some political fund-raisers.

"We do not take comfort in having to file a complaint against a sitting U.S. Senator, but no one should be above the law," said California Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres.

The communications director of Schwarzenegger's campaign called the complaint "completely frivolous" and "without merit."

"It is clear from this instance this is a calculated campaign strategy," Katie Levinson said.

Once a complaint is filed it is considered confidential until the matter is closed, according to Kelly Huff of the Federal Election Commission.

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