The San Francisco Chronicle
Sacramento, CA — State Treasurer Phil Angelides, seeking an issue that will invigorate his campaign, called the Schwarzenegger administration Monday among the most submissive to corporate interest in state history and the governor among the biggest all-time benefactors of business.
In an effort to claim the high ground on the issue of political ethics, Angelides blasted the governor for failing to deliver on his promises during the 2003 recall election to “clean up Sacramento” and “sweep out the special interests.”
The treasurer pointedly chose to stage his attack at the Sacramento Railroad Museum, the site that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger used three years ago to make his reform speech in which he compared the 19th century railroad barons to the interest groups dominating contemporary California and himself to populist Gov. Hiram Johnson who led a fight against the barons.
Angelides said Schwarzenegger has gone from advocating reform to becoming one the biggest abusers of the campaign finance system.
“This governor has raised over $100 million in special interest money,” said Angelides. “He has done what no other governor has ever done in doing the bidding of big special interests.”
Angelides pointed out that none of the reforms Schwarzenegger talked about during the recall campaign has been adopted.
“Hiram Johnson would be rolling in his grave if he could see the Schwarzenegger administration,” Angelides said. “Never in our history — except when the Southern Pacific had a grip on this state — have we had a state government so entangled by monied interests.”
Angelides dismissed the notion that his own campaigns — now and in the past — have also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from special interest groups like trial lawyers, Wall Street investors and labor groups.
He pointed out that that he has endorsed Proposition 89, a ballot measure that would provide public financing of political campaigns and that Schwarzenegger has not. Angelides also noted that in the past he has opposed big business combinations such as the $16 billion merger of two of the nation’s largest HMOs — Wellpoint Inc. and Anthem Inc. in 2004 — a move Schwarzenegger’s administration did not oppose.
Matt David, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign, said the governor’s decisions as the state’s chief executives have always been for what’s best for California — not campaign supporters.
David said Schwarzenegger remains committed to campaign finance reform and has signed bills that mandated faster reporting of contributions to political parties. He also signed a bill that limited bank loans for political campaigns and he’s also proposed legislation that would increase penalties for campaign finance fraud.
David also argued that Angelides has as treasurer supported business interests of campaign contributors.
“Phil Angelides will say anything to anyone at any time if he believes it will benefit him politically,” David said. “The hypocrisy of Angelides proposing political reform shows that his failing campaign will resort to anything to get attention.”
Angelides also proposed new rules to cover ethics violations he said Schwarzenegger has made in the past, for example:
— Nonprofit groups that pay travel expenses for the governor would be required to disclose where their money comes from. Some of the expenses of Schwarzenegger’s trips to China and Japan were paid for by a foundation that is not required to disclose its contributors.
— Angelides said he also wants to prohibit top gubernatorial aides from earning paychecks simultaneously from the state and a political campaign. As it is now, the governor’s chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, works for both the state and the governor’s re-election committee.
E-mail Tom Chorneau at [email protected]