Just $25,000 will buy two
people a seat at the table — literally — for dinner with Governor
Schwarzenegger at a fundraiser scheduled for tomorrow at the de Young
Museum in San Francisco. The $25K price tag is typical for donors who
want to cozy up to the gov at a campaign event. What’s different this
time around is the fundraiser’s beneficiary: the non-profit California
State Protocol Foundation that has spent millions paying for the
governor’s overseas travel.
Governor Schwarzenegger has drawn fire from campaign finance watchdogs
(including us) for funding his myriad trips — and the private jets and
luxury hotels that travel inevitably entails — through non-profit
groups like the Protocol Foundation that can accept unlimited contributions and do not have to publicly reveal their donors.
Non-profit financing provides a secret back channel for special
interests to support the governor’s political agenda without publicly
revealing their involvement. Oftentimes, the companies paying for the
trip also tag along for the ride. Worst of all, donors get a tax break
because the funds are funneled through a non-profit entity.
Arnold-boosters have consistently claimed that the gov has no idea who
the group’s donors are, so he can’t possibly be granting them favors.
This fundraiser — where the governor will learn not only who donors
are, but how much many of them gave — eliminates that excuse and
should put an end to Protocol Foundation financing of the gov’s
If the governor is traveling on state business, taxpayers should pick
up the dime. Otherwise the governor should dig into his piggy bank and
pay the tab himself.