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Aug 31, 2004 - 03:20 PM

Not a Moderate... Fundraiser

by Doug Heller
Arnold, with a premier speaking spot at the GOP convention, will list a string of life achievements in his American Dream speech tonight. However, he will likely ignore one of his most recent accomplishments --becoming California's pre-eminent special interest fundraiser.

According to public filings, the Gov has raised $29.97 million since he announced his bid for governor and stated that he did not need to raise money. At the time, Arnold said: "Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something."

Since then, Arnold's fundraising has far surpassed that of recalled Governor Gray Davis, who voters turned out of office in large part because of the public perception that he spent too much time fundraising and that contributions played too much of a role in his decision making.

The Top Contributors by Industry to Schwarzenegger are:

Real Estate/Development/Construction -- $4.9 million
Finance/Accounting/Investing -- $4.8 million
High Tech -- $1.7 million
Healthcare (e.g. HMOs, Hospitals, pharmaceuticals) -- $1.5 million
Agribusiness -- $1.1 million
Insurance -- $1.0 million
Car Dealers/ Automotive Interests -- $1.0 million has documented a series of legislative decisions, appointments and other actions by Arnold that illustrate the undue influence of his special interest donors. Here's a review of a few of them:

Workers' Compensation Insurance Reform -- More than $500,000 Raised from Workers' Comp Insurers: Schwarzenegger signed legislation overhauling California's workers' compensation system. Despite efforts to include regulatory oversight of the insurance industry as part of the overall package, Schwarzenegger protected his insurer donors and blocked any rate regulation. At the height of negotiations, Schwarzenegger accepted $100,000 from workers' comp insurer American Financial Group. Previously, Schwarzenegger received $100,000 from mega-insurer AIG.

Donors Win State Contract -- Outsourcing Firm Contributed $25,000 Prior to Receiving State Deal:
The Canadian firm CGI-AMS contributed $25,000 to Schwarzenegger in March. In June, the governor gave the firm a major state contract to reduce the costs of state purchases and other expenditures. The administration of recalled Governor Gray Davis was investigated after it received a $25,000 contribution from Oracle, which had received a large state contract.

Will Schwarzenegger Place the Interests of Drug Firm Donors Over Seniors' Needs?
The governor has received over $335,000 in contributions from pharmaceutical companies. Drug companies also have paid an undisclosed portion of the $350,000 cost of sending Schwarzenegger's entourage to the GOP convention. Last week the California Legislature sent Schwarzenegger a series of bills that would make it easier for state residents to re-import their medications from Canada at lower prices than are available in the U.S. and bills that would allow the state to bulk purchase prescription drugs on behalf of public programs, the uninsured and small businesses at dramatically reduced prices. Schwarzenegger has not yet acted on the bills, but has signaled that he is likely to veto the measures.

The American Dream that Arnold has realized is that if you're a big enough celebrity you can get away with calling yourself a political reformer even as you turn government over to the special interests.

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