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Nov 21, 2005 - 12:15 PM

Cold Turkey

by Carmen Balber
Governor Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team -- a political committee ostensibly created for the Gov to raise and spend money on ballot measures -- reports accepting a $25,000 contribution from Shell Oil last week.

Yet Arnold has promised he'll work with the legislature this year and claims to be through with ballot initiatives. Why raise money into a "ballot measure committee" if he isn't going to be supporting measures on the ballot? And why give to a committee with no declared purpose and no clear prospects?

As a termed-out legislator, Schwarzenegger can no longer raise money for his candidate committee since he is not running for office. For special interest donors like Shell -- who want to keep the money flowing in, so the favors flow out -- the California Recovery Team provides the opportunity to give unlimited funds, and maintain unfettered access, to a Gov who is otherwise at the end of his fundraising capacity. Shell has a big stake in the Gov's decision about whether to open California to liquified natural gas and in oversight by Schwarzenegger's California Energy Commission.

Schwarzenegger also opened a new "officeholder" account this week, expanding his fundraising options under a bill he signed allowing termed-out legislators to continue to shake down donors for their own creature comforts, like lavish parties, junkets and fine steak dinners.

The Governor, who promised to clean up Sacramento, can't make any more excuses. With no upcoming election, and no initiatives on the ballot, Arnold doesn't have to keep playing the fundraising game he claims to despise.

The first step is admitting his $95K a day fundraising habit is a problem. When Arnold goes cold turkey and kicks the habit, Californians can finally give thanks.

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