The San Jose Mercury News is reporting
that Governor Schwarzenegger has refused a State Senator’s request for
documents that could reveal that the administration influenced the
purchase of more than 1100 vehicles from General Motors. The $17
million purchase was part of a flex-fuel program that was supposed to
decrease the amount of gasoline used by the state’s fleet of cars, but
to date, not a drop of alternative E-85 fuel has been pumped into these
GM has a multi-layered financial relationship
with Schwarzenegger, including a deal worth $15 million in cash and
goods the automaker gave to the gov’s non-profit Arnold’s All-Stars.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights called for an audit of the deal in July, and State Senator Dean Florez opened an investigation, which led to today’s refusal by the Schwarzenegger administration to make documents available.
"I’m shocked at the administration’s decision," Florez said. "This
is a public contract and deserves a public airing of the circumstances
surrounding this contract. From their own letter, it appears that
high-level administrative staff… may have been involved in the
procurement of vehicles from General Motors…"
Florez said the role the governor and his officials may have played in
the car purchases should be made public because contract specifications
were dramatically altered from past fleet purchases. Those changes
resulted in just one model of car and truck — both made by GM — that
met the requirements for the multi-million-dollar contracts.
The legislative hearing led by Florez in July was prompted by a Mercury
News investigation that showed the Schwarzenegger administration had
spent $17 million to purchase 1,138 alternative-fuel vehicles from GM,
trumpeting the buys as a major breakthrough for the environment.
State fleet managers who bought the cars and trucks were given "green"
awards and told they were advancing "the governor’s goal of reducing
petroleum consumption," a state Web site shows.
However, two years after the administration began buying the GM cars
and trucks, the vehicles had traveled a collective 10 million miles,
but had run on nothing but gasoline.
The Senator gave the governor a chance to voluntarily address what
looks like an example of his administration applying pressure to
benefit a significant donor. His last chance is a new hearing called
for Sept. 24th. If he won’t answer on his own, a state audit can force
him to make his involvement public.