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Nov 06, 2007 - 05:15 PM
Gov's Protocol Should Be To Pay His Own Wayby Carmen Balber
Just $25,000 will buy two people a seat at the table -- literally -- for dinner with Governor Schwarzenegger at a fundraiser scheduled for tomorrow at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The $25K price tag is typical for donors who want to cozy up to the gov at a campaign event. What's different this time around is the fundraiser's beneficiary: the non-profit California State Protocol Foundation that has spent millions paying for the governor's overseas travel.
Governor Schwarzenegger has drawn fire from campaign finance watchdogs (including us) for funding his myriad trips -- and the private jets and luxury hotels that travel inevitably entails -- through non-profit groups like the Protocol Foundation that can accept unlimited contributions and do not have to publicly reveal their donors.
Non-profit financing provides a secret back channel for special interests to support the governor's political agenda without publicly revealing their involvement. Oftentimes, the companies paying for the trip also tag along for the ride. Worst of all, donors get a tax break because the funds are funneled through a non-profit entity.
Arnold-boosters have consistently claimed that the gov has no idea who the group's donors are, so he can't possibly be granting them favors. This fundraiser -- where the governor will learn not only who donors are, but how much many of them gave -- eliminates that excuse and should put an end to Protocol Foundation financing of the gov's overseas junkets.
If the governor is traveling on state business, taxpayers should pick up the dime. Otherwise the governor should dig into his piggy bank and pay the tab himself.
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