Supporters ante up big bucks for ballot;

Published on

Over $23 million spent so far to back governor’s measures

The San Francisco Chronicle

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger boosters already have spent more than $23 million on November’s special election, with millions more on the way for what he has called his reform initiatives.

Financial reports filed Monday with the California secretary of state show that the governor’s California Recovery Team, which serves as Schwarzenegger’s political arm, spent more than $11 million between Jan. 1 and June 30, the deadline for the midyear report. Citizens to Save California, which was formed by Schwarzenegger’s backers to support his initiative plans, pumped another $12 million into the effort.

On the other side, the labor-backed Alliance for a Better California spent $10.1 million to oppose Schwarzenegger’s plan and qualify a pair of its own measures.

“It’s not inexpensive to run a campaign of this magnitude in California, but the governor believes it is money well spent,” said Todd Harris, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger’s political team. “These reforms are critical to the future of California and he will pull out all the stops to make sure they pass.”

Much of the money was spent to qualify three of Schwarzenegger’s initiatives for the November ballot. Proposition 74 would increase the time it takes public school teachers to receive tenure. Prop. 77, which is currently being challenged in a Sacramento appellate court, would take the power to draw the state’s political boundaries out of the hands of the Legislature and give it to a panel of retired judges.

The keystone of Schwarzenegger’s effort is Prop. 76, which would give the governor more power to shape the budget and make emergency cuts in programs without the consent of the Legislature.

Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team has spent more than $5.6 million promoting the budget measure, with millions going toward the type of television ads more typically seen in the final weeks of a campaign.

While Schwarzenegger has yet to say whether he’ll run for a new term as governor next year, the November election could play a major part in his decision. He has taken $1 million from his campaign fund, Californians for Schwarzenegger 2006, and moved it to the committees running the fall initiative campaign.

The governor has been under constant attack by teachers, nurses, firefighters and other labor groups. They spent millions on TV ads slamming Schwarzenegger for what they have called his insensitivity to public employees.

The effort seems to be having an effect. The governor’s popularity and job approval ratings have dipped below 50 percent.

The California Teachers Association has put $4.2 million into the anti-Schwarzenegger campaign, while the California State Council of Service Employees has given $1.75 million to the Alliance for a Better California.

While the report filed Monday for the six months ending June 30 showed Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery team more than $1.2 million in the red, they have raised more than $2 million in the past month and now are debt free with more than $1 million in the bank, Harris said.

“Our fund-raising has continued and will continue at a brisk pace because we know we’re going to be outspent in this campaign,” he said.

Robin Swanson, spokesperson for the Alliance for a Better California, shrugged off the governor’s claims.

“He spent millions on TV, and we spent millions on TV,” she said. “We’re pretty even.”

Much of the money for the two Schwarzenegger-backed committees came in large chunks from wealthy business leaders and commercial interests. Jerrold Perenchio, head of the Spanish-language media giant Univision, gave $1.5 million, while Stockton developer Alex Spanos and DHL founder William Robinson gave $1 million each.

Other major contributions included $555,000 from the California Business Political Action Committee, $250,000 each from Howard Lester, president of Williams-Sonoma, and Dawn Arnall, wife of the chairman of Ameriquest Capital, and $200,000 from the California Grocers Association.

Much of the money went to companies that gathered signatures to qualify the governor’s initiatives for the ballot, with hundreds of thousands more going to an army of consultants, pollsters and other political professionals.

Doug Heller, who heads Arnold Watch, a project of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said the governor’s latest financial statements reveal not only a fund-raising flurry, but also “a striking expenditure of money in the off season” unparalleled in state political history.

“What he’s saying is not only do I need a lot of money for my agenda, I’m going to spend a huge amount of money as your politician-in-chief,” Heller said.

Not all the money being reported was for November’s initiative battle.

The top two competitors for the Democratic nomination for governor already have raised about $29 million for the campaign, financial reports filed Monday show.

Treasurer Phil Angelides raised $4.8 million from January to June, giving him $16.8 million in the bank, reports show. Controller Steve Westly’s campaign fund was at $12.2 million as of the June 30 filing deadline, with $10 million coming from his personal fortune.

Campaign officials said Westly, a former eBay vice president, would donate another $5 million to his campaign on Monday.

State law limits maximum individual contributions in the governor’s race to $22,300, although candidates may spend as much of their personal wealth as they want.

Special-election campaign donors

Contributors to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s political committees — Citizens to Save California, the California Recovery Team and Californians for Schwarzenegger 2006 — include a broad segment of heavyweights in the financial sector, technology, land development, retail and automotive industries. Among them:

— Jerrold Perenchio, head of Univision, the Spanish Language network — $1.5 million to the California Recovery Team.

— Carl Lindner, Chiquita Banana head and American Financial Group board chair — $202,500.

— William A. Robinson, former DHL magnate — $1 million.

— Developer Alex Spanos of Stockton — $1 million.

— The Irvine Company — $250,000.

— Los Angeles-based Kilroy Realty — $100,000.

— Howard Lester, head of Williams-Sonoma — $250,000.

— Donald Fisher, Gap CEO — $22,300.

— California Retailers Association — $100,000.

— Movie and entertainment-related donors included Sylvester Stallone, $15,000; Sony Pictures, $10,000; Disney, $22,300; HBO, $10,000.

— Fletcher Jones of Newport Beach, car dealer — $250,000.

— John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems — $119,000.

— Jerry Yang, Yahoo CEO — $100,000.

— Paul Polino, CEO of Emulex Corp. — $250,000.

— R.J. Brandes, CEO of Bellgravia Capital — $100,000.

Source: California Secretary of State’s office.
Chronicle staff writer Lynda Gledhill contributed to this report.E-mail the writers at [email protected] and [email protected]

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

Latest Videos

Latest Releases

In The News

Latest Report

Support Consumer Watchdog

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More Releases