Friday, April 09, 2004

Schwarzenegger Makes, then Breaks, His Own Campaign Finance Rules
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has a penchant for declaring himself to be free of special interest associations, announcing self-imposed rules to ensure this, and then breaking them. When he first announced his candidacy during the special recall election, he pledged that he would not accept campaign contributions from special interests with business before the state. Then, he basically narrowed the definition of special interest to include only people who disagreed with him, mostly labor unions and Native American tribes.

The latest example is with the Governator's pledge to not accept contributions after March 2 from insurance companies for his ballot question campaigns. But, his campaign committee cashed a $100,00 check from the workers compensation insurance company American Financial Group two days after the election. His aides say its OK since the money was pledged before the election. See the full story in the San Jose Mercury News here.

Splitting hairs about the timing of a corporate contribution to a campaign that will impact that corporations bottom line misses the point. Corporations exist to maximize profits, while governments exist to make rules that ensure that corporations treat the rest of us fairly and honestly while pursing their private gain. To have those corporate interests then use their money to help write the rules that govern their behavior messes up the very fundamentals of the system.

If he really wants to clean up Sacramento, Schwarzenegger should stop inventing self-imposed restrictions that have little value, and focus instead on enacting mandatory campaign finance reform that would apply evenly to all candidates all the time.

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