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How Much From Special Interests?

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Oct 21, 2005 - 11:45 AM

Arnold's Shakedown Politics vs. His Word

by Jamie Court and Doug Heller
 
When he ran for office, Arnold proclaimed: "I don't have to take money from anybody. I have plenty of money." Yesterday he got angry at President Bush for having a Beverly Hills fundraiser because: "We would have appreciated if he would have done his fundraising after the Nov. 8 election, because you know we need now all the money in the world."

Campaigning in the recall, Arnold declared: "Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something." Campaign finance records now show that the Gov's early announcement of his decision to seek re-election has spurred donors to pour $10 million into his initative campaigns in one month. Chevron's lobbyist acknowedged in today's Los Angeles Times that its recent quarter million tribute payment to Arnold's initiatives was meant to curry favor with the Gov in the future. The lobbyist told the Times: "Obviously, if he hadn't announced for reelection we would not have given that contribution." $250K is not a bad premium, after all, to make sure gas prices stay high and Schwarzenegger continues his silence on the issue.

There's a "For Sale" sign on the governor's office and the cost of access is campaign cash for ballot measures that Arnold believes will help bring back his popularity. As if Californians didn't have enough reasons to vote No In November, Schwarzenegger's shakedown politics should top the list.

This week, for example, Schwarzenegger grazed in the Central Valley for campaign moolah after throwing Big Agriculture huge breaks this legislative session, including allowing taxpayers to subsidize canned fruits in a school food program when the original bill included only "fresh" fruit. Last night, the Stockton Record reports, Schwarzenegger collected big dough at the home of fruit processing magnate Bob Smittcamp. He took $250,000 from a Wal-Mart heiress on the same day he vetoed an insurance benefits bill opposed by Wal-Mart, according to the Sacramento Bee. Insurers kicked in $105K on the day Arnold sided with them and signed their top legislative priority. He has received another $150,000 from big insurers since the veto.

Perhaps ugliest of all is the Gov's decision to veto bills cracking down on business tax cheats at the behest of the California Chamber of Commerce, as the LA Times editorializes today.

It's clearer than ever that a "No" in November is as much about Schwarzenegger's pay-to-play politics as it is about the bad policies he's promoting.




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