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Dec 10, 2007 - 01:30 PM

Do Austrian children play the game Telephone?

by Carmen Balber
Honest disclosure from Governor Schwarzenegger about who has been funding his luxury lifestyle as celebrity governor is long overdue.

Admissions to the LA Times by the governor's staff that records of payments for his overseas travel were kept "orally" and shared by "phone call" are a disturbing reminder that although this governor often talks the talk of reform, he rarely walks the walk. As in the children's game "Telephone," relaying messages by mouth means a distorted end result. And, as in the children's game, some people may be suspected of deliberately tweaking the message to change the outcome.

Included in the expenses that have not been fully disclosed are costs of the private jet and swank hotel suites the governor apparently can't live without. The bills are paid by a nonprofit run by the governor's boosters at the California Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable that, excluding a rare disclosure by the governor's office last week, also does not reveal which donors who are paying the governor's way. The group has spent $2.5 million since 2004 -- by far the majority of its spending -- on foreign trips.

(Not to mention a second nonprofit -- the Governor's Residence Foundation -- which pays over $100,000 a year to maintain the Hyatt suite Schwarzenegger calls home in Sacramento.)

Disclosure of donors, and the benefits they provided the governor, should be unavoidable for a governor who campaigned as a champion of open government. The next step must be an end to private income -- in this case in the form of personal housing, travel and accommodations abroad -- for a public official.

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