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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Sub-Prime Lender Primes Political Pump - Millions Funneled to Push Schwarzenegger Agenda

As we wrote last week, Ameriquest Capital CEO and owner Roland Arnall has been named U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands, in no small part due to the financial generosity of he and his wife Dawn towards President Bush and to other groups sympathetic to President Bush.

Obviously not one to rest upon his laurels, Arnall's company Ameriquest has also been spreading the wealth in California. According to campaign filings released yesterday, Ameriquest and the Arnalls ponied up some $2.3 million (Dawn Arnall files separately) to campaigns and committees in the first half of 2005, including at least $1.9 million to seven committees that support Governor Schwarzenegger's Year of Reform agenda.

The list:
California Business PAC - $600,000
California Business Properties - $200,000
New Majority PAC (scroll down for the extra $8k) - $268,000
Small Business Action Committee - $250,000
Californians to Stop Higher Taxes - $250,000
Governor Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team - $250,000
Citizens to Save California - $100,000

Several of those committees in turn gave to the other committees. One committee in particular, the Small Business Action Committee, received $200,000 from California Business Properties committee and $150,000 from the New Majority PAC , which Ameriquest had given $200,000 and $268,000 to respectively. Yet, Ameriquest still claimed today that it did not back the effort of the Small Business Action Committee to support Prop 75, a contentious ballot initiative that would limit unions ability to use dues for political purposes.

Uh-huh.

Well, maybe Joe California would be more likely to believe that seemingly ridiculous claim if he knew that Ameriquest also gave more than $100,000 to the state Democratic Party. But wait . . . Ameriquest also gave $50,000 to the state Republican Party. For those out there who equate spending money with free speech, just exactly what the hell do you think Ameriquest is saying here?

The problem here isn't just that the company is taking advantage of California's campaign laws to avoid responsibility for its political contributions, it's that anyone can give such huge sums of money to influence elections in the first place.

Schwarzenegger's committees have had four other contributors kick in at least $1 million a piece to his agenda. As long as rich folks can make contributions out of our price range to political campaigns, the rest of us will remain priced, and locked, out of the political process.

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