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Jan 20, 2004 - 11:15 AM

Fundraising While Budgeting

by Jamie Court and Carmen Balber
When he wanted to be Governor, Arnold said, "It is no coincidence that the budget season is also the political fundraising season. It is inherently suspect for politicians to be taking money from lobbyists while they are spending the people's money."

When Arnold was caught with his special-session budget cuts on the table and his hand out at fundraisers, the Guv said that was different -- he had not yet proposed his official budget. Well, it's January and Schwarzenegger has proposed his budget. Yet last Friday Arnold quietly kicked off a new fundraising swing at the Four Seasons Hotel in Orange County. Yesterday, he was stumping for dollars in San Francisco. Wednesday the Governor's cash register will be open to lobbying interests in Sacramento. On Thursday, Arnold'll have his hand out in Los Angeles.

The governor's people say Arnold's hoping for six figure contributions that total about $8 million to $12 million for his budget bond bailout, Props 57 and 58. These contributions bypass state campaign limits to politicians recently tightened up by the FPPC because they are ballot initiative funds. Their spirit, however, is very clearly to promote this Governor, his agenda and his brand.

Arnold's not just breaking his promise to the public by fundraising from lobbyists while spending the people's money. He's fundraising from lobbyists to convince the people to spend more so the special interests that give to him will have to pay less. The only budget alternative if the bonds fail is to tax the big businesses and rich folks at these fundraisers. The reasons the special interests care is to ensure the budget hole is filled by average people, not by a tax on their own riches, and to curry favor with a Governor who can repay them in other ways.

If Arnold were really the world's best salesman rather than Californians' governor, the people who elected him would by now have a first-rate false advertising case.

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