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Mar 19, 2004 - 02:15 PM

Murphy's Law?

by Doug Heller
Arnold has generally managed to avoid the old assurance that if it can go wrong, it will. Instead he's followed another Murphy's law: his top political adviser Mike Murphy's, which seems to be that if you can raise money, you should.

But that philosophy has recently put Arnold -- who met secretly with Murphy's big insurance clients in the midst of workers' comp negotiations -- on the defensive. That's why Arnold finally took a recommendation from Arnold Watch when he agreed yesterday not to raise more money from insurers while negotiating the workers' compensation insurance proposal and he decided to return one $50K contribution from an insurer. The problem is the Gov failed to return the balance of nearly one million dollars that he has already received from insurers -- at least half of which was from companies with a lot at stake in the workers' comp reform debate.

Gray Davis was properly panned (not to mention canned) when he held onto $100K from Enron even though he promised to stop taking donations from energy companies after the energy crisis was in full swing. Arnold's attempt to compartmentalize his special interest fundraising (no insurance money while negotiating the workers' comp bill) is Davis-style juggling that does not fly for a politician who ran Davis out of office for such corruption.

Here's what Arnold must do next if he wants to truly avoid the Gray areas. First, give back every insurance industry dollar and pledge never to take more. Second, sever his continued relationship with consultant Mike Murphy. Murphy is a lobbyist for the powerful American Insurance Association (AIA), which wants Arnold to limit claim payouts to injured workers but do nothing to regulate the insurance companies -- and so far Arnold has bought that line. No doubt the AIA thanked the governor for advancing their goals when they met with Arnold last month in DC, courtesy of Murphy's connection. Third, meet with consumer groups to get their point of view on real reform on this and other issues. Most Californians don't have the money to hire Mike Murphy to get Arnold's ear, but wasn't the point of the recall that those with some truth to share, not just money, would be heard?

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