Friday, September 03, 2004
When campaigning for governor, then-candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger inveighed early and often against the power of special interests in Sacramento. At first, he promised not to take any money from anyone in order to free the state of California and himself from owing anybody any favors, but he soon backed off that position, stating that instead he wouldn't take any money from special interests that negotiate with the state.
Less than two years later, now-Governor has raised record-setting amounts of money - more than $13 million - for his ballot initiative committees, much of it coming from corporations with a huge stake in various pieces of legislation currently on the governor's desk. Some of these same corporations also recently paid the Schwarzenegger's way to the convention in New York City, ponying up some $350,000.
As Joe Mathews reports in The Los Angeles Times, the Governor feels the need to explain the apparent discrepancy between the Arnold of 2002 and the Arnold of 2004: he never meant to say that he wouldn't take money from special interests - only that he wouldn't take money from certain special interests. Ohhhhh, only certain special interests.
The Governor's protestations aside, the contributions in the hundreds of thousands of dollars which are flowing into his committees are a problem regardless of their source, regardless of their effect on the governor's decision-making. Wealthy interests should not be able to dominate the discourse on ballot initiatives any more than they should campaigns for public office.
Instead of parroting that he can't be bought, the Governor should push for clean elections in California.