disclosure from Governor Schwarzenegger about who has been funding his
luxury lifestyle as celebrity governor is long overdue.
Admissions to the Los Angeles Times
by the governor’s staff that records of payments for his overseas
travel were kept "orally" and shared by "phone call" are a disturbing
reminder that although this governor often talks the talk of reform, he
rarely walks the walk. As in the children’s game "Telephone,"
relaying messages by mouth means a distorted end result. And, as in the
children’s game, some people may be suspected of deliberately tweaking
the message to change the outcome.
Included in the expenses that have not been fully disclosed are costs
of the private jet and swank hotel suites the governor apparently can’t
live without. The bills are paid
by a nonprofit run by the governor’s boosters at the California Chamber
of Commerce and the Business Roundtable that, excluding a rare disclosure
by the governor’s office last week, also does not reveal which donors
who are paying the governor’s way. The group has spent $2.5 million
since 2004 — by far the majority of its spending — on foreign trips.
(Not to mention a second nonprofit — the Governor’s Residence Foundation — which pays over $100,000 a year to maintain the Hyatt suite Schwarzenegger calls home in Sacramento.)
Disclosure of donors, and the benefits they provided the governor,
should be unavoidable for a governor who campaigned as a champion of
open government. The next step must be an end to private income — in
this case in the form of personal housing, travel and accommodations
abroad — for a public official.