Non-Candidate Schwarzenegger Still Raises Millions In Political Cash

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cannot run for re-election and has no
stated plans to seek another office, but he still raises millions of
dollars each year.

The governor’s continued reliance on the
ballot box means a constant need for campaign cash, and watchdog groups
say that leaves him vulnerable to influence by special interests.

think voters should be wary of the extent to which the governor has to
go to fund those ambitions," said Carmen Balber of the Foundation for
Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. "If you look at his overall trend,
business interests are overwhelmingly represented."

has solicited more than $4.6 million this year as he pursues an
initiative to change how California draws its voting district
boundaries, which qualified last week for the November ballot. He also
wants the Legislature to add three measures related to budget and water
projects for the same election.

Schwarzenegger declared during
the recall campaign in 2003 that "I don’t need to take money from
anyone," but he has raised more than $127 million since then, not
counting money he has personally contributed. That figure surpasses the
$87 million former Gov. Gray Davis raised over five years.

fundraising totals this year are lower than in heavy campaign years
like 2005 and 2006, but watchdog groups anticipate he will raise
millions this fall to help his redistricting initiative pass in

The crowded ballot will have at least 11 proposals,
which means redistricting proponents must spend more money to
communicate their message. Bill Carrick, a Democratic consultant and a
political advertising expert, estimated that a statewide ad purchase
could cost more than $3 million a week.

"If you want to pass
something, if you’re the ‘yes’ side of something where the burden is so
much more difficult, I think you could end up with a $20 million
campaign," Carrick said.

The redistricting initiative has drawn
support from a bipartisan coalition of groups and leaders that includes
Schwarzenegger, former Democratic state Controller Steve Westly, AARP
and California Common Cause.

Yet Schwarzenegger has been
responsible for financing the initiative’s signature-gathering efforts.
He transferred $2.4 million in campaign money this spring to
redistricting proponents. In the current cycle, the governor has raised
$200,000 from Chevron Corp., $100,000 from Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
and $50,000 from State Farm Insurance. All have legislative business
before the state.

More than $800,000 in additional contributions
has come from regular Schwarzenegger donors, including Texas oilman T.
Boone Pickens, Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso and New York City
Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"The governor has strongly supported
redistricting reform since he was elected," said Schwarzenegger
campaign spokeswoman Julie Soderlund. "It is something he feels
strongly about because the power to draw district lines should be in
the hands of voters rather than politicians."

In addition to
redistricting, Schwarzenegger wants the Legislature to place on the
ballot a proposal to establish a budget rainy-day fund and expand
gubernatorial authority to cut spending. He also wants voters to
approve a plan allowing the state to borrow against future lottery
revenues as part of his current budget solution. And he hopes to get a
new bond for water projects on the November ballot.

Lokke, policy advocate at California Common Cause, said she agrees that
voters should be concerned about the large amounts of money necessary
to approve initiatives in California, though her group is backing the
redistricting proposal. She said it is a necessary move because the
Legislature has refused to approve changes to the current process.

think there’s always a concern when you see amounts of money
influencing policy and politics, and sometimes there isn’t an option to
go any other route," Lokke said.

She acknowledged that the
redistricting campaign will require "big donors to help out with media
ads," but she noted that the campaign is also relying on "grass-roots"

Though he has been less vocal on campaign finance reform
this year, Schwarzenegger still wants the Legislature to approve a
fundraising ban during budget negotiations and during most of August
and September when bills are approved and signed, said spokesman Aaron

He has not taken a position on Senate Constitutional
Amendment 9, by Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, which addresses
redistricting, term limits and fundraising blackout periods.

$127 million = Amount Gov. Schwarzenegger has raised since the recall campaign in 2003.

$4.6 million = Amount the governor has raised this year to campaign for a redistricting initiative.

$3 million = Estimated weekly cost of a statewide ad purchase for initiatives on the crowded November ballot.


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