Schwarzenegger to Go on Road to Raise Funds

*Donors in the East and California will be asked to contribute to his reelection effort and policy agenda.

By Robert Salladay, Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO â€" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has planned a series of fundraisers from California to the East Coast next month, including a dinner with New York Gov. George Pataki, a business round table with Washington lobbyists, and a Los Angeles event where $89,200 will buy a "private briefing" for two with the governor.

Schwarzenegger's fundraising blitz in Ohio, Manhattan, Washington, Los Angeles and Indian Wells, Calif., â€" at upscale hotels, restaurants and private homes â€" is intended to raise money for a possible reelection campaign and other Schwarzenegger endeavors.

The Los Angeles invitation lists one of Schwarzenegger's state campaign chairmen as Roland Arnall, head of Ameriquest Mortgage, which has been accused by hundreds of consumers in 21 states of fraudulent sales practices. The company has donated $1.2 million to Schwarzenegger and his various campaign committees, and recently financed a weekend at the Pro Bowl in Honolulu for the leader of the Assembly and four other Democratic lawmakers.

Schwarzenegger faces increasing criticism for his fundraising, expected to top $150 million by the end of 2006. He has been holding policy briefings with donors to explain his agenda for change, but he has repeatedly said he would not trade contributions for specific actions. The law allows candidates to talk to donors about their policies but prohibits them from linking money to favors.

The governor's multi-state itinerary begins March 4 in Ohio. After appearing at the annual Arnold Classic bodybuilding event in Columbus, Schwarzenegger will fly to Cincinnati for a dinner hosted by Carl H. Linder, owner of the Cincinnati Reds and former chief executive of Chiquita Brands International.

Three days later in New York City, Schwarzenegger is scheduled to attend a dinner organized by fellow Republican Pataki at the '21' Club. Martin Wilson, Schwarzenegger's political consultant, said the two men were old friends who support each other politically.

Schwarzenegger then will head to Washington, where a fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel will be hosted by lobbyists and political operatives. The invitation offers a seat next to Schwarzenegger at a business round table discussion, for a contribution of $22,300, the maximum allowed by California law.

On March 16, Schwarzenegger has organized a "Spring Into Action" dinner and reception at the Westin Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Sponsors of the event include corporate executives and, among others, self-help guru Anthony Robbins.

The invitation suggests that two people could donate a total of $89,200 to two separate Schwarzenegger committees, one that would fund his possible reelection campaign and another, the California Recovery Team, that promotes the governor's proposals. The money entitles donors to dinner, photos with the governor and a "private briefing" to be arranged later, according to the invitation.

The final fundraising event is a private dinner March 19 at the Indian Wells home of philanthropists Mary and Howard Lester. He is the retired chief executive of Williams-Sonoma Inc., a $2.8-billion housewares retailer.

Wilson, who handles most of the governor's fundraising, said Schwarzenegger has a "dual-track financing strategy that includes a series of fundraising events for the governor's reelection committee" and for Citizens to Save California, a group formed to support Schwarzenegger's agenda. Schwarzenegger has said he would need to raise about $50 million this year to promote his proposals, which include new government spending restraints, merit pay for teachers and a new way to determine voting districts. Wilson said the amount needed for the reelection committee this year is "considerably more modest."

Although he has not announced whether he would seek reelection in 2006, Schwarzenegger relies on donors to a reelection account to pay many of his expenses as governor.

Schwarzenegger said Wednesday that only the media cares about the large amounts of money he is collecting. He said he needed the funds to fight interest groups, such as public-employee unions, that plan to spend tens of millions of dollars this year to defeat his proposals.

"The people don't see it as a negative," Schwarzenegger said at a press briefing. "Maybe the press does, but the people don't. I have never seen anyone come up to me and say, 'Governor, please stop the fundraising.' "


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