Governor Raises $640,000 For His Inaugural
Donations come from firms with business tied to state action and from lobbyists and backers.
SACRAMENTO ? Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has raised about
$640,000 in private donations to cover part of the costs of
his two-day inaugural celebration next month, tapping
lobbyists, well-heeled campaign supporters, insurance
companies and businesses that depend on state action as
part of a fund-raising campaign that is still underway.
The committee staging the governor's inaugural ceremony
released a list of 31 private donors Friday afternoon who
have purchased either "gold" or "silver" sponsorships that
entitle them to preferred seating at the governor's
swearing-in, along with tickets to a private luncheon with
Top-tier donors contributing $50,000 apiece include Chevron
and the California Chamber of Commerce. The chamber is the
state's top business lobbyist and a close ally of the
Silver-level sponsors gave at least $15,000 each and
include Pacific Life and Farmers insurance companies;
Cemex, a cement producer that is locked in a dispute with
the city of Santa Clarita over a proposed mine; and the
Assn. of California Life and Health Insurance Companies,
whose members have a stake in the governor's plans to
expand access to healthcare.
Because Schwarzenegger is raising the money through a
private, tax-exempt group ? not an ordinary campaign fund ?
he is free to collect donations of any size. When a
politician is running for a specific office, he faces
tighter contribution caps and stricter disclosure
The governor is not legally required to disclose
contributors to his inaugural fund but has chosen to do so
voluntarily. Still, the list he released Friday offers less
information than what is in a state campaign finance
report. No addresses or occupations are given for the
donors; no contribution dates are listed.
"The governor felt it was important to disclose the
sponsors of his inaugural events and also felt it important
that the taxpayers not bear the costs," said Julie
Soderlund, spokeswoman for the '07 inaugural committee.
Watchdog groups criticized the governor for offering
private firms and individuals another opportunity to gain
influence in his administration. Schwarzenegger has already
collected more than $114 million ? breaking all state
fundraising records for a single candidate ? since he
entered the recall campaign in 2003.
"People are not giving for altruistic purposes; they want
to be recognized by the governor," said Robert Stern,
co-author of the state's Political Reform Act and president
of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. "And
so there will be much appreciation by the governor and his
office. It's a problem. It's a way to gain access to a
Cemex was part of a group of 10 businesses whose
representatives met privately with Schwarzenegger during
his trade mission last month to Mexico. The company wants
to mine nearly 70 million tons of sand, rock and gravel
near Santa Clarita. City political leaders oppose the
project, which requires approval from state and federal
Santa Clarita officials are hoping the governor's office
will help broker a settlement with the Mexican-based
Cemex's only other donation to Schwarzenegger was a $5,000
contribution to his reelection campaign in May, state
Asked about the $15,000 donation from Cemex, Michael
Murphy, Santa Clarita's intergovernmental relations
officer, said: "I would expect that as a corporation doing
business in the state of California, they would see it in
their self-interest to participate."
Schwarzenegger will be sworn in for a second term Jan. 5.
Organizers of his inaugural announced a bipartisan list of
co-chairs Friday, including U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer
(D-Calif.) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who
will be the next speaker of the House.
Schwarzenegger advisors have said the governor may
challenge Boxer in 2010.
For her part, Pelosi campaigned for Schwarzenegger's
opponent, Democratic state Treasurer Phil Angelides, in the
governor's race that concluded last month.
After Schwarzenegger's lone debate with Angelides, Pelosi
addressed a news conference and said: "It's very important
to show the close connection of Arnold Schwarzenegger and
George W. Bush."
Still, she chose to participate in the inaugural to
underscore that she is ready to "move on," said her
spokesman, Brendan Daly.
"We look forward to working together for the good of
California," Daly said.
Other donors to Schwarzenegger's inaugural include:
? Raley's supermarket chain ($50,000)
? California Real Estate Political Action Committee
? Adams Steel, a scrap metal recycling company in Anaheim
? California Assn. of Hospitals and Health Systems (at
? Irvine Co., a real estate investment company in Newport
Beach (at least $15,000).
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