ArnoldWatch Masthead
Home | Subscribe | Donate | Get Involved | Contact Us    

Energy Policy
Corporate Accountability
Political Reform

Get Involved

How Much From Special Interests?

The Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights


Oops! I Appointed A Special Interest

News Archive   - Web Logs   - Press Releases 

Schwarzenegger pledged to stand up to special interests in Sacramento. He must have missed a few key bullet points on the resumes of some of his chief appointments. If big business holds the keys to the governor's office, all legislation will be filtered through the lens of corporate interests. Here are some Schwarzenegger appointees the public should be concerned about - we'll be keeping an eye on them at ArnoldWatch.

Garrett Ashley, Deputy Chief of Staff

Ashley was previously executive director of Tech Net - Orange County. TechNet is a network of high-powered corporate executives (think Microsoft, J.P. Morgan, NASDAQ and AOL Time Warner) that lobbies in Sacramento and Washington D.C. for high tech interests. In recent years, TechNet's lobbying has focused on limiting consumer rights, including: fighting against court settlement reforms to let the public know about harmful products; pushing to restrict injured consumers' right to bring class action lawsuits against crooked corporations; and resisting post-Enron corporate accountability proposals to require companies to report the cost of executive stock options to shareholders.

Cassandra Pye, Deputy Chief of Staff, External Affairs

The External Affairs post serves as a liason to the public, "a job that is the unofficial in-house slot responsible for tending to the governor's political connections in the community, especially among ethnic groups," according to SacBee columnist Dan Weintraub.

For the past 12 years, Cassandra Pye has worked at the Chamber of Commerce, where she was most recently vice president of corporate affairs. In that capacity, Pye was responsible for the Chamber’s political activities and running its Political Action Committees (PACs), which means that she spent time soliciting money from big businesses for the Chamber and its campaigns. In other words, the special political connections that Cassandra Pye brings to the administration are with big businesses. Pye’s knowledge of the donors in the big business community will doubtless help Arnold raise money from the Chamber community.

Before her time at the Chamber, Pye worked with a variety of big business trade associations, including the California Retailers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the California Grocers Association.

A.G. Kawamura, Food and Agriculture Secretary

Kawamura donated $21,200 to Arnold. He is a past chairman of the Western Growers Association, which has been a vocal opponent of legislation protecting farmworkers and the environment enacted over the past several years.

The Food and Agriculture Department is responsible for environmental, public safety and other regulations governing agricultural interests. Kawamura's appointment is incongruous - it places a man who ran an anti-regulation organization in charge of development and implementation of regulatory safeguards. Farmworkers, and the environment in farming communities, are bound to suffer when agribusiness interests take the forefront at the department.

Among the legislation opposed by the Western Growers was last year's SB 700, which required farmers to obtain pollution permits for certain diesel powered field machinery. Previously, agricultural interests were exempt from the emission rules that require permits for other industries and Central Valley air quality was greatly compromised as a result.

Agricultural interests gave Arnold's campaign committees more than half a million dollars.

James Branham, undersecretary at California Environmental Protection Agency

Branham was previously director of external relations for the Pacific Lumber Company. His appointment to a critical environmental post state raises eyebrows, as his company has a reputation for being environmentally unfriendly.

The Pacific Lumber company has been repeatedly cited for environmental violations, including poor forest practices and water quality problems. The company's logging license was suspended several times in the late 1990s for forest violations, including: illegal logging, the cover-up of illegal practices, and operations which disregarded procedures meant to preserve environmentally sensitive areas.

His position in the upper echelons of CalEPA will cause greater tension between the lumber interests he represented and the values of the vast majority of Californians - a clean, protected and healthy environment.

Richard Costigan, Legislative Secretary

Costigan joins the governor from his prior position as Vice President of Governmental Relations and Chief Lobbyist for the California Chamber of Commerce, putting the governor-elect's top legislative post in the hands of big business's biggest lobbyist.

Costigan's appointment could give big corporations unprecedented access to policy decisions in the Governor's office. The Chamber of Commerce is at the forefront of efforts to curb criticism and reform of corporations in California. The Chamber's opposition to major consumer protections over the last decade has included: HMO patients' rights, insurance reforms, expanding healthcare coverage to the uninsured, corporate accountability measures, and protection of consumer privacy.

Patricia Clarey, Chief-of-Staff

Clarey was most recently a Vice President for the HMO Health Net, Inc. The appointment puts the key to the governor's office in the hands of a big business exec, and bodes poorly for increased public interest access to the governor.

The state's HMOs have a long history of opposing patient protections in Sacramento, including, most recently, legislation which would have extended California's auto insurance regulatory rules to now-skyrocketing health insurance premiums.

HMO interests may quickly find expression in Schwarzenegger's healthcare policies. A key test will be whether Schwarzenegger stands up to insurers (and against Clarey's former boss) to control rapidly skyrocketing healthcare costs by regulating insurance premiums, capping hospital and physician rates, and bulk purchasing benefits and prescription drugs.

Ms. Clarey was also a lobbyist for Chevron.

Home | Subscribe | Donate | Get Involved | Contact Us | Privacy Policy    
ArnoldWatch is a project of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization. FTCR does not endorse or oppose candidates.