Arnold has generally managed
to avoid the old assurance that if it can go wrong, it will. Instead
he’s followed another Murphy’s law: his top political adviser Mike
Murphy’s, which seems to be that if you can raise money, you should.
But that philosophy has recently put Arnold — who met secretly with
Murphy’s big insurance clients in the midst of workers’ comp
negotiations — on the defensive. That’s why Arnold finally took a
recommendation from Arnold Watch when he agreed yesterday not to raise
more money from insurers while negotiating the workers’ compensation
insurance proposal and he decided to return one $50K contribution from
an insurer. The problem is the Gov failed to return the balance of
nearly one million dollars that he has already received from insurers
— at least half of which was from companies with a lot at stake in the
workers’ comp reform debate.
Gray Davis was properly panned (not to mention canned) when he held
onto $100K from Enron even though he promised to stop taking donations
from energy companies after the energy crisis was in full swing.
Arnold’s attempt to compartmentalize his special interest fundraising
(no insurance money while negotiating the workers’ comp bill) is
Davis-style juggling that does not fly for a politician who ran Davis
out of office for such corruption.
Here’s what Arnold must do next if he wants to truly avoid the Gray
areas. First, give back every insurance industry dollar and pledge
never to take more. Second, sever his continued relationship with
consultant Mike Murphy. Murphy is a lobbyist for the powerful American
Insurance Association (AIA), which wants Arnold to limit claim payouts
to injured workers but do nothing to regulate the insurance companies
— and so far Arnold has bought that line. No doubt the AIA thanked the
governor for advancing their goals when they met with Arnold last month
in DC, courtesy of Murphy’s connection. Third, meet with consumer
groups to get their point of view on real reform on this and other
issues. Most Californians don’t have the money to hire Mike Murphy to
get Arnold’s ear, but wasn’t the point of the recall that those with
some truth to share, not just money, would be heard?