Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger's loans
I was interviewed on television yesterday about how Arnold Schwartenegger financed his campaign to become California's next governor. The story, in text and streaming video, is available here. The background here is that when Mr. Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, he said he would not be taking any money from "special interests." He then proceeded to raise more than $11 million dollars from contributors, many of whom are major landowners, developers, and businesses who have a financial stake in who sits in the Governor's office. See this AP story for more details.

He then used $5 million of his own money to add to the pot, along with $4.5 million in loans to his campaign. These loans are from a bank, but he reportedly signed for them personally. So, any future campaign contributions that Mr. Schwartenegger receives will reduce his personal debt and mean more money in his own pocket. Plus, the money has already been spent and influenced the outcome of the race, but voters won't know who provides this money until well after the election is over.

It's wrong that Schwarzenegger used big money to help buy an election result, but this is no different than what Gray Davis had done before him. It wouldn't be fair to have asked Mr. Schwartenegger to unilaterally disarm during the campaign, but once he's in office he should pass reforms that would reduce the role of big campaign contributors in future elections.

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