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Jan 15, 2004 - 12:15 PM
A Ward For Special Interestsby Jamie Court
Given the $15.9 million Arnold has raised from well-heeled donors who want a say over state policy, it's not surprising that the Gov would appoint a banker -- Bank of America executive Randal Hernandez -- as his appointments secretary. That's the post which doles out plum state jobs on agencies, boards and commissions to people favored by special interest groups which want a bigger voice over government.
Past Chairman of the Western Growers Association A.G. Kawamura gave the maximum $21,200 to Arnold and got the Food and Agriculture Secretary job. Chief of Staff Patricia Clarey won her position, then her former employer -- Chevron -- kicked in $21,200 to Arnold and an unprecedented $500,000 to the Republican party. Chamber of Commerce brass have taken over Arnold's top legislative post and the Deputy Chief of Staff slot. The Chamber is not only one of the Governor's biggest boosters, but, as Arnold said himself on Day 1, the first place he'll turn for big money for his ballot initiatives.
Selling government jobs or influence -- i.e. connecting campaign contributions and official policy in the same breath -- is illegal. There's new evidence that a lieutenant in Arnold's army may have breached the borders of the law. An ArnoldWatch tipster has shared a letter from Republican lobbyist Ward Connerly to some of his clients -- top building code officials -- bragging about the new-found power of his special interest group with Arnold if it delivers a bundled contribution of $50,000. Connerly claims in the letter that under Gray Davis larger special interests dominated the state codes affecting his clients to their detriment. "With the recent reforms in the Political Reform Act limiting the amount of contributions that can now be made to political candidates, and the election of a new governor, those who have been previously locked out of the political process now have an opportunity to participate, " Connerly writes. "In this regard, I have been asked and have agreed, to assist the new governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, retire his campaign deficit. This provides an excellent opportunity for members of California Building Officials, acting as individuals, to pool their resources so that the voice of building officials might be heard. . .Your contribution will greatly help California's building code profession." Read the full letter at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/assets/scans/connerly.gif
We'll see soon whether Connerly's group gets Schwarzenegger to rewrite near-final building code regulations more to its liking. In either case, the FPPC, the Attorney General and the Gov himself should question Connerly about whom in the governor's camp he was talking with. As for the banker in charge of passing out state jobs, ArnoldWatch will closely audit the connections between dollars to the governor's campaign accounts and his picks for regulatory posts.
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