Governor's Fund-Raising Reform Effort Called Disingenuous
SACRAMENTO - After campaigning to ban fund raising during the budget writing season, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger headlined a Beverly Hills fund-raiser Thursday just hours after vowing to stay and fight to end the two-week-old stalemate over a new spending plan.
Schwarzenegger raised at least $400,000 for his fall campaigns and political travel, fund-raiser Martin Wilson said Friday. The Republican governor already has received $261,500 in the last two weeks from a mortgage lender, nursing home company and online dating service.
As a recall candidate, the Hollywood star portrayed himself as a political outsider in contrast to Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, who was criticized for prolific fund raising. A bill sponsored by Schwarzenegger to ban fund raising during budget talks stalled in committee after the administration put it on the back burner.
"All of the governor's rhetoric about political reform is more bark than bite," said Paul Ryan of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.
Schwarzenegger Press Secretary Margita Thompson said the governor remains committed to the reform, but "it's not the law right yet."
"The governor is doing everything he can so he has the resources to take his message to the people," she said.
In addition to paying for the governor's travel, the money for the governor's California Recovery Team will be used to fight two gambling initiatives in November that would undercut Schwarzenegger's deals with five Indian tribes that operate casinos.
Since June 29, Schwarzenegger has received $54,000 from Ameriquest Capital Corp., $25,000 from Pleasant Care Corporation and $20,000 from the co-chairman of MatchNet.
Critics say the governor's political reform effort has been disingenuous.
"Here we are mid-July with no budget and the governor going to a Beverly Hills fund-raiser," said Doug Heller of the Taxpayer and Consumer Rights Foundation. "That doesn't sound like a new era for California. It sounds like the same old politics as usual that turned Gray Davis out of office."
Assemblyman Ray Haynes, R-Temecula, who carried the governor's failed bill, disagreed.
"Nobody else has stopped fund raising," he said. "Unilateral disarmament leaves you open to attack."
Staff writer Dion Nissenbaum contributed to this story.
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