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Jul 17, 2006 - 04:45 PM

CEO To Out of State Donors: Arnold Is Our Insurance Policy

by Doug Heller and Jamie Court
The head of America's 7th largest insurance company recently wrote Illinois-based CEOs and big business barons about a $25,000 per head Schwarzenegger fundraiser originally scheduled for today in Chicago. CNA Insurance chief Stephen Lilienthal said that though the big bucks contributors are not Californians they should donate big to Arnold because he is a "first line of defense" against reforms, willing to "fight the unions who have too many states in their grip," and a national model for Republicans. Read the letter and the invite.

ArnoldWatch has learned that the fundraiser has been temporarily cancelled, marking the second time this out-of-state cash grab has been put off. It's a sign, Arnold. The forces of reform are telling you not to sell California off to the highest bidder.

The host committee members for the Chi-town auction hardly have California's best interests at heart, only that of their own corporations:

Steve Lilienthal -- Head of CNA Insurance, the nation's 7th largest insurer. California individuals and businesses bought $848 million worth of insurance from CNA in 2005, including more than $100 million worth of workers' compensation insurance. Arnold has already delivered for Lilienthal by cutting workers' comp benefits to disabled workers but never regulating insurers' premiums;

Sam Zell -- the billionaire owner of Manufactured Home Communities, Inc., who calls himself the "Grave Dancer" for buying distressed properties. He has made a name for himself in California by jacking up rents at California mobile home communities, pushing low-income residents out and fighting local governments over rent control laws;

Glenn Tilton -- CEO of United Airlines, who reportedly bought a $2 million vacation home in Florida while his company was in the throes of bankruptcy;

Thomas Pritzker -- Heir to the Hyatt fortune (must explain why the fundraiser was scheduled for Chicago's Hyatt Regency);

Terence Duffy -- CEO of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange;

Matt Rose -- Railroad Magnate. Rose is the chief at Burlington Northern;

Tyrone Fahner -- Former Illinois Attorney General, Fahner is now a partner at the Illinois-based Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw, one of the world's largest law firms.

These Chicagoans are not your average Californians, to be sure. After two failed attempts to get back to Chicago (where the Gov did some fundraising with another insurance giant, Aon, last year) for this fundraiser, the Gov should call the out-of-state fundraising off altogether.

In the meantime, closer to home, Arnold will be staying in state on Thursday for a couple of Mega-Fundraisers with former President George Herbert Walker Bush. In Los Angeles and San Francisco the Gov will be asking the big guns to shell out $100 grand each. Download the invite.

While Schwarzenegger has been trying to portray himself as a rehabilitated populist reformer and progressive recently, these big bucks bashes show his appeal still holds strong with the County Club crowd.

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