Arnold’s Special Interest Tools

Published on

Arnold and his corporate
backers have contrived yet another way to get around California’s
campaign finance rules. We shouldn’t be surprised. When the FPPC issued
rules last spring (after ArnoldWatch complained that the Governor was
violating voter approved Prop 34) to block Arnold from accepting
above-the-limits contributions from donors, his lawyer admitted to the
that the Gov would find a way to cheat the law: "When you look at a
piece of swiss cheese it does have holes in it."

The new rules went into effect in November limiting the amount the gov
can receive from any one source to $22,300. Despite threatening to find
loopholes, Arnold’s fundraising team said they’d comply, because "We
don’t have the pressure to raise the kind of money in 2005 that we did
in 2004."

But when Arnold announced his intention to call a special election in
2005 and put his agenda on the ballot, he quickly changed tunes and had
his loophole committee established. To evade the new rules Arnold needs
a legally independent group into which his special interests can
contribute bigger chunks of money than the $22,300 that the law allows.

Enter the "Citizens to Save California." This so-called citizen group
was started by the big special interests that will benefit from
Schwarzenegger’s agenda (corporations that want to destroy the
California Pension system, businesses that want to protect their tax
loopholes, and industries that want to see independent consumer
protection boards swallowed up into the political bureaucracy).

Despite the legal distinction between this group and Arnold, the veil
of independence is pulled back as soon as its founders (who already
have close ties to Arnold) try to explain their new group:

"[The committee] can certainly talk to the governor’s office…
Wherever he moves, a lot of things move with him." (Joel Fox, a former
consultant to Schwarzenegger, in the LA Times)

"The governor laid out an agenda in the State of the State speech…Our
desire is to help him achieve that agenda." (Rick Claussen, who worked
for Arnold on his March 2004 ballot campaign, in the Times)

"Clearly the group wants to support the governor, and we want to be a tool in this process." (Claussen in the SJ Mercury News)

This committee is, in their own words, a tool of the Governor and
should be subject to the voter approved campaign finance law. If the
committee accepts contributions larger than $22,300, then the Fair
Political Practices Commission should investigate and hold Arnold to
the same laws as every other politician.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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