SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger defended his campaign finance organization as completely open and above board Tuesday and promised to disclose all donors to any of his political committees.
Along with six political action committees, Schwarzenegger has also recently incorporated a private nonprofit corporation to help oversee his fund-raising. While some political watchdogs have characterized the organization as confusing to most voters, the governor said in an interview that each committee is necessary to meet state laws.
He said there is no intent to hide any contributors.
“We don’t put any blocks on information,” he said. “It’s all legitimate. One of the very important directions everyone has on my team is to do everything straight forward, legitimate and open. There’s no monkey business.”
Although he criticized former Gov. Gray Davis for spending too much time raising money, Schwarzenegger is setting a near-record pace. After spending nearly $27 million to win the October recall election, Schwarzenegger has added $11 million since and appears poised to raise millions more before the November election.
The governor’s organization includes one committee established in 2002 to support an after-school funding initiative. Two more were created to push his candidacy during the recall campaign. One for his re-election in 2006.
Two more were created after the recall – one to back the budget initiatives voters approved this month and a general purpose committee intended to support ballot measures Schwarzenegger has threatened to take to voters, including workers’ compensation reform and revision of the state’s tort system.
Schwarzenegger said state law requires that he have each committee because they serve specific purposes. But money has moved between them on occasion, which some say makes it difficult for voters to see what supporters are contributing to what political activities.
Carmen Balber of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a consumer advocacy group – and a frequent critic of the governor’s fund-raising efforts – said she was pleased to hear of Schwarzenegger’ promise to disclose all donors. She said, however, that the governor needs to simplify his organization.
“It’s impossible for the average Californian to make their way through the spider web of committees,” she said. “For the governor to pledge disclosure is a good thing, now it needs to be taken with a pledge to clean up the confusion, he needs one – maybe two committees at the most.”