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Sep 25, 2007 - 01:15 PM
Gov Ducks Hard Questions About GMby Carmen Balber
Governor Schwarzenegger continued his closed door policy today when he refused to allow aides to testify at a Senate investigative hearing concerning his administration's interference in an exclusive $17 million contract given to long-standing Schwarzenegger donor, General Motors. (He also refused to let his chief of staff and cabinet secretary testify about their interference in Air Resources Board greenhouse gas regulations this summer.)
Senator Dean Florez disclosed in the hearing that one of the state-owned vehicles was wrapped in General Motors' national ad campaign, "live green, go yellow," and driven to the GM booth at a private conference by a state employee on state time.
The San Jose Mercury News published documents revealing that E85 vehicles were added to the contract "per the Governors request," that state officials had agreed to a pilot project with General Motors one month before the deal was even officially put out to bid, and that the contract was designed with requirements that only General Motors could meet.
General Motors' long financial history with the governor includes:
- $47,000 in campaign contributions the company made to the governor's ballot measure committee, re-election, and 2007 inaugural committee;
- The use of six General Motors vehicles and drivers during a trip to Japan just a few months before California purchased the flex-fuel cars from the automaker;
- $15 million in cash and goods (Hummers) given to Schwarzenegger's nonprofit, Inner City Games, also known as After School All-Stars and Arnold's All-Stars;
- Schwarzenegger had the first military Hummer converted for civilian use and acted as the monster car's first spokesman;
- The loan of a Hummer that can run on hydrogen as a prop for a press conference on Schwarzenegger's "hydrogen highway" plans.
The GM program was promoted as an example of the administration's commitment to environmental protection, but the cars never ran on alternative fuels and actually produced more air pollution than those they replaced.
A state audit and Senate subpoenas are called for if Arnold refuses to come clean about his relationship with GM and the E85 contract.
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