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Nov 03, 2004 - 04:56 PM

A Victory for Special Interests

by Douglas Heller
Arnold is claiming victory over the special interests today in the wake of results from his five main initiative campaigns. In those battles, he had $86 million on his side. It's incredible how much money Arnold can raise to take on the special interests.

But aside from the fact that Arnold's positions were right in line with his big corporate donors, especially on Props 64 and 72, there is another thing wrong with Arnold's bold claims. In these initiative battles, Arnold did not slay the special interests, he relied on them.

In order to defeat Props 66 (3 strikes) and 68 and 70 (related to gambling), Arnold had to transfer $7,556,763 to those campaigns ($2,071,700.44 to No on 66 and $5,485,063 to No on 68/70) from his own campaign committee (Governor Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team). That amount is almost exactly what Arnold received from special interest donors during the last two months of the campaign, when he raked in $7.9 million from the likes of mortgage lender Ameriquest, a Wal-Mart director, and a quarter million donation from Fox News affiliate, News America Inc.

Those corporate special interests, whose money was funneled to defeat 66, 68 and 70 do not care about the state's three strikes law or where Californians go to play the slots. They gave to Arnold in his time of need (he needed money to defeat these initiatives) because, as Arnold has so properly explained while campaigning to be governor, "Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something."

So, while boasting of his conquest of the special interests, not only did Arnold stump on behalf of initiatives led by the likes of Wal-Mart, Philip Morris, oil companies and HMOs, he woke up this morning with millions of dollars in political debts to a bunch of lobbyists and executives who can't wait for Arnold to help them take on the next batch of "special interests."

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