A Ward for Special Interests

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Given the $15.9 million Arnold
has raised from well-heeled donors who want a say over state policy,
it’s not surprising that the Gov would appoint a banker — Bank of
America executive Randal Hernandez — as his appointments secretary.
That’s the post which doles out plum state jobs on agencies, boards and
commissions to people favored by special interest groups which want a
bigger voice over government.

Past Chairman of the Western Growers Association A.G. Kawamura gave the
maximum $21,200 to Arnold and got the Food and Agriculture Secretary
job. Chief of Staff Patricia Clarey won her position, then her former
employer — Chevron — kicked in $21,200 to Arnold and an unprecedented
$500,000 to the Republican party. Chamber of Commerce brass have taken
over Arnold’s top legislative post and the Deputy Chief of Staff slot.
The Chamber is not only one of the Governor’s biggest boosters, but, as
Arnold said himself on Day 1, the first place he’ll turn for big money
for his ballot initiatives.

Selling government jobs or influence — i.e. connecting campaign
contributions and official policy in the same breath — is illegal.
There’s new evidence that a lieutenant in Arnold’s army may have
breached the borders of the law. An ArnoldWatch tipster has shared a
letter from Republican lobbyist Ward Connerly to some of his clients —
top building code officials — bragging about the new-found power of
his special interest group with Arnold if it delivers a bundled
contribution of $50,000. Connerly claims in the letter that under Gray
Davis larger special interests dominated the state codes affecting his
clients to their detriment. "With the recent reforms in the Political
Reform Act limiting the amount of contributions that can now be made to
political candidates, and the election of a new governor, those who
have been previously locked out of the political process now have an
opportunity to participate, " Connerly writes. "In this regard, I have
been asked and have agreed, to assist the new governor, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, retire his campaign deficit. This provides an excellent
opportunity for members of California Building Officials, acting as
individuals, to pool their resources so that the voice of building
officials might be heard. . .Your contribution will greatly help
California’s building code profession." Read the full letter at: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/assets/scans/connerly.gif

We’ll see soon whether Connerly’s group gets Schwarzenegger to rewrite
near-final building code regulations more to its liking. In either
case, the FPPC, the Attorney General and the Gov himself should
question Connerly about whom in the governor’s camp he was talking
with. As for the banker in charge of passing out state jobs,
ArnoldWatch will closely audit the connections between dollars to the
governor’s campaign accounts and his picks for regulatory posts.

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

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