Papers report that the gov
released his first official re-election ad yesterday, but anyone who
watches television saw what looked a lot like two other Schwarzenegger
campaign ads over the last two weeks. Those Arnold ads are funded by
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and don't have the normal campaign ad
disclosures.

That's because the Chamber says it's promoting issues, not Arnold, and
claims it's therefore exempt from campaign finance rules. It refuses to
disclose who paid for the pro-Arnold ads, or even how much they cost.
Funneling campaign cash through another committee gives the gov's
biggest donors a chance to give far above the $22,300 limit, and keep
their large donations anonymous.

The Chamber has tried this money laundering scheme before.

In 2004, the U.S. Chamber gave $1.5 million
to fund an attack ad against a Democratic candidate in Washington
state. The committee claimed it was running issue ads and refused to
reveal the Chamber was its donor. A Washington state court ruled that
the ad clearly advocated the defeat of the candidate, and finally
forced the disclosure.

As the Sac Bee
noted yesterday, the scripts of the official Schwarzenegger campaign ad
and the Chamber's cuts are eerily similar. Just as in Washington, the
only "issue" in the Chamber's California ads is Arnold Schwarzenegger's
re-election.

The U.S. Chamber's record of running candidate ads masquerading as
issue advocacy should be enough to prompt California's ethics
authorities to launch an investigation into their project. And the
governor who promised to bring sunshine to Sacramento should demand the
Chamber come clean.