Governor again cancels fund-raiser

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The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger canceled a Sacramento fund-raiser for the second time Monday in a move that critics believe was prompted by their plans to protest the event.

Spokeswoman Margita Thompson said the governor postponed the fund-raiser at the Sheraton Grand, which was to be hosted by Stockton developer Alex Spanos, because of ongoing budget talks with lawmakers.

“The governor wanted to have a clear schedule if it was worthwhile to meet with the legislators,” she said.

She said the postponement was unrelated to any planned protests.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumers Rights has widely publicized plans to protest the event, which was originally scheduled for last Wednesday. Both were to have been held at the Sheraton Grand near the Capitol.

The group planned to attempt to enter the exclusive dinner event with 21,200 green jelly beans to protest the governor’s fund raising while his administration and the Legislature grapple with a gargantuan state budget problem. The amount — 21,200 — coincides with the largest dollar donation an individual donor can make to a candidate’s committee under state campaign finance laws.

“He made a promise to the people of California, and he is not fulfilling that promise,” said the foundation’s Doug Heller. “He seems to be trying to hide the fact that he is breaking his contract with California.”

The GOP governor spent $5 million of his own money on his victorious campaign in the recall election. He financed the rest of the bid with $4.5 million in loans and more than $11 million in donations, many from business interests.

He is raising money now to repay the bank loans.

Schwarzenegger had scheduled four fund-raisers this week and last, including the one that was postponed Monday.

He attended one in La Jolla last week and plans two more in Southern California this week, including a dinner in a private skybox at the Los Angeles Lakers game Friday for those who contribute $21,200 or $10,000, according to copies of an invitation provided by the consumer group.

He also plans a fund-raiser offering donors a photo opportunity with him and reception at a private club in Irvine.

The governor’s press office released the dates and cities of the planned events but declined to divulge any further details.

Releasing the information publicly when it is requested is more than his predecessor, former Gov. Gray Davis, ever did. Davis, who raised millions of dollars during the state’s energy crisis and the beginning of the current budget woes, kept his fund-raiser information private.

But Schwarzenegger’s fund raising — after he campaigned against special-interest influence in Sacramento and said his personal wealth would negate his need to collect contributions for his own campaign — is prompting critics to compare him to the recalled Democratic governor.

“The icon is based entirely on how different he is from Gray, but with each fund-raiser, Arnold looks more and more like Gray,” Heller said.

The consumer’s group has launched a Web site,, that is tracking the governor’s fund-raising schedule and information about his contributors as it becomes available.

Consumer Watchdog
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