Monday, January 31, 2005

Ballot Barons to Go National

this is an audio post - click to play

Today is semi-annual reporting day for California candidates and committees. Because the reporting period only covers October 15 - December 31 of 2004, it is unlikely that the reports will reveal the tens of millions of dollars expected to pour into ballot initiative committees this year under Governor Schwarzenegger's plan to sidestep the state legislature and take his agenda straight to the people of California.

And New York. And Florida. And Ohio and Texas, and any other state with wealthy donors willing to give big bucks to the ballot committees run by the Governor's cronies. You're not alone if you're slightly confused as to why a governor from one state would need to raise money in other states in order to push his agenda in his own state, but as Bob Salladay and Peter Nicholas report in The Los Angeles Times, that's exactly what Schwarzenegger intends to do.

During and after the recall election, Schwarzenegger talked about the importance of bringing more business to California. I guess maybe he meant filling his campaign coffers with out-of-state cash.

The Governor, who rode a wave of populist reform rhetoric into Sacramento, has now surpassed his predecessor as the biggest, baddest moneyhound on the block. As Salladay and Nicholas report, Schwarzenegger plans to raise $50 million from around the country to pursue his ballot agenda and another $50 million for his re-election campaign next year, bringing his projected total to $150 million over three years. (For some perspective, George Bush shattered all presidential records in 2000 when he raised $94 million.)

Gov. Schwarzenegger is not the only Governor outsourcing his fundraising. New York's Gov. Pataki started up a committee in Virginia to evade his own state's contribution limits. Nor his Arnold the only governor to come to office promising to end "business as usual" politics before turning to special interests for millions of dollars in contributions, as Gov. Blagojevich of Illinois has also done.

As of 9:00 a.m., the Secretary of State's website had posted no reports for any of Gov. Schwarzenegger's committees, for Citizens to Save California - the governor's (winkwink nudgenudge) buddies' committee, nor for embattled Secretary of State Kevin Shelley.

-Governor Schwarzenegger's Total Recall Committee reported no contributions in the last quarter of 2004.

-Governor Schwarzenegger's Californians for Schwarzenegger reported only returning $11,000 to previous donors, including $10,000 to CMG Mortgage (also known as CMG Financial), a financial services company run by Chris George. Chris George was a vocal proponent of Gov. Schwarzenegger's successful efforts to change the California worker's comp system last spring, and a contributor of $2,000 to President Bush's 2004 campaign. It is unclear why the money was returned to CMG.

-As of 4 p.m., Kevin Shelley's report is up. After August 6, when reports first surfaced that he had accepted over $200,000 in laundered campaign contributions, Shelley received a little more than $30,000, the bulk of which came from labor unions and the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians.

For stories on fundraising, please check out Dan Morain in The Los Angeles Times, Mark Martin in the San Francisco Chronicle, Alexa Bluth and Dan Smith in The Sacramento Bee, and Dion Nissenbaum and Ann Marimow in the San Jose Mercury News.

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