Governor Will Raise More Funds
By creating committees to back ballot measures and to lobby legislators, Schwarzenegger would be extending his power, observers say.
SACRAMENTO â€" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who
denounced political fundraising while running for office,
is opening two new campaign accounts that together
establish a year-round political operation.
The campaign committees would allow Schwarzenegger to raise
unlimited money for ballot measures and lobbying campaigns
in the Legislature, as well as finance a possible
reelection bid in 2006.
In effect, Gov. Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team,
as one of the committees is called, would allow the
governor to act as a lobbying organization that stages
rallies and uses other public-relations techniques, such as
coordinated letter-writing campaigns to lawmakers.
And since the committee will be considered a ballot-measure
account under California campaign law, Schwarzenegger can
avoid the state's limits on donations to individual
"It is very sophisticated," said Robert Stern, president of
the nonprofit Center for Governmental Studies in Los
Angeles. "He is using every method that he can to raise
money. He is being very creative."
Donations to the second committee, a 2006 gubernatorial
campaign fund, will be restricted to $21,200 from
individual and corporate contributors, as required by the
Proposition 34 campaign finance law that voters approved in
The creation of the gubernatorial campaign committee, which
aides expected to file with the secretary of state's office
as soon as Friday, does not amount to an announcement that
Schwarzenegger is running for reelection, said aides to the
governor. Rather, they said, he was compelled under state
law to create a campaign committee to pay for officeholder
expenses, including travel related to politics and salaries
for some political aides.
Gov. Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team was filed
with the secretary of state Monday.
All candidates establish campaign committees for their own
races. Most past governors have raised money to support or
oppose specific ballot measures. Some have established
political action committees to pay for their political
efforts. But until Schwarzenegger won election
â€" and particularly with the creation of a
year-round lobbying organization, observers said
â€" no other California state official has
demonstrated such a willingness to bypass lawmakers if his
legislative proposals stall.
"It is another tool for Schwarzenegger to dominate the
Legislature," said Douglas Heller of the Foundation for
Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, which tracks
the governor's fundraising.
"It is a different kind of power-wielding than we have seen
among most politiciansâ€¦.
Schwarzenegger is raising money not only to gain power, but
to threaten other politicians."
Marty Wilson, one of Schwarzenegger's top political aides,
said the committees are legal and effective political
tools, and he emphasized Schwarzenegger's policy of not
accepting contributions from trade groups that represent a
Schwarzenegger will be expected to file the same public
lobbying reports, detailing actions taken to generate
public support for and against legislative proposals, that
are required of lobby coalitions established by business
and other groups.
"The governor is playing by the same rules applied to
everybody â€" and is putting additional
restrictions on himself," Wilson said.
He described the California Recovery Team as "a
grass-roots, ballot-measure and legislative-advocacy
organization that will garner public support necessary for
the governor as to achieve his agenda."
Most immediately, the committee will be used as the
fund-raising vehicle for Schwarzenegger's efforts on behalf
of Propositions 57 and 58, the state budget measures that
he persuaded the Legislature to place before voters on the
March 2 ballot.
Proposition 57 is a $15-billion bond to help the state
refinance its deficit.
Proposition 58 is aimed at reining in future state spending
by requiring that lawmakers set aside 3% of the state
budget's general fund as a reserve.
Campaign aides estimate that Schwarzenegger will need to
raise $8 million or more in the next two months for the
"We're going to have to raise this money from people who
want to see the governor succeed and, more importantly,
want to see California succeed," said Wilson, the
governor's political aide.
The campaign committee also could be used to raise money
for November ballot fights, including a potential
initiative to lower the cost of workers' compensation
insurance premiums paid by businesses. Schwarzenegger made
the overhaul of the $29-billion workers'-compensation
system a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign.
On Wednesday, Joel Fox, one of Schwarzenegger's political
supporters, took the first public step toward placing such
an initiative on the November ballot, filing a proposed
ballot measure with the state attorney general's
Since he ousted Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in the Oct. 7
recall election, Schwarzenegger has raised more than $2.8
million in political funds.
He has raised more than $25 million since announcing his
candidacy for governor in August.
The money has come from an array of individuals and
corporations, including real estate companies, developers,
car dealers, telecommunications interests and others with
stakes in the outcome of state legislation.
When he announced his candidacy for governor on "The
Tonight Show With Jay Leno," Schwarzenegger, a
multimillionaire, said he would raise no money for his
He soon amended that statement, saying that he would take
no money from "special interests."
He defined special interests as public employee unions,
Indian tribes that own casinos, and trade groups that
represent single interests such as real estate agents,
physicians and restaurant owners.
The governor plans to continue adhering to that principle,
In addition to the new campaign committees,
Schwarzenegger's aides said the governor is considering
creating a third fund to help defray his living costs in
Sacramento. As it is, he has been paying many of his living
costs out of his pocket.
Several past governors have established nonprofit
corporations to help defray such expenses.
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