In keeping with his unorthodox campaign for governor, Democratic state Sen. Tom Hayden on Wednesday released copies of an extraordinary 13-minute television commercial that focuses on political corruption and features an interview with a convicted felon--former state Sen. Alan Robbins.
The commercial, which will air initially only on public access cable television stations, consists of nine separate short segments in which Hayden tours the state trying to explain how the actions of lobbyists affect the everyday lives of voters.
The footage of Hayden, much of it in black and white, was shot with a hand-held video camera in the style of a low-budget documentary. Produced by a crew that has specialized in music videos, it is reminiscent of the well-received protest film "Roger and Me."
At each break, a statement about campaign contributions to Gov. Pete Wilson and to legislators from a particular industry flashes on the screen, along with Hayden's toll-free campaign telephone number. Hayden accepts contributions of no more than $94.
Dressed in tweed coat, his shirt unbuttoned at the collar, Hayden starts at the state Capitol and shifts to earthquake-ravaged Los Angeles, where he says that developers and transportation interests persuaded the Wilson Administration to spend far more on expanding freeways than on making existing highways safe from earthquakes.
The candidate also stands in front of St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica and notes that state regulations did not require it to be upgraded to meet new seismic standards.
"The lobbyists for the hospitals say that it would cost too much money to bring them up to seismic safety standards," Hayden says. "When I ask them at least could the patients and their families know that the hospitals are not built up to seismic safety codes, they say that would make them hysterical.
"I don't know about hysteria," Hayden adds, "But it makes me very angry."
Other segments include a train yard in Richmond that was the site of a toxic chemical spill, Hayden's own electric car, Folsom state prison, and a state university campus.
Hayden interviews Robbins in a garden at the UCLA campus. Robbins notes that his corruption case got great notoriety but says a far more insidious type of scandal goes on daily in the Capitol with little fanfare.
It is commonplace, he says, for a lobbyist to arrange a campaign contribution to a legislator on Monday and come back Tuesday to ask for the legislator's vote on a bill.
"It doesn't take very long before the least bright legislator figures out that if he keeps ignoring the Tuesday request, then the lobbyist is going to stop coming to his fund-raisers," Robbins says. "It's very easy for legislators to come to the conclusion that (the lobbyist's) arguments are persuasive."
Hayden, at a news conference, said he plans to air the ad constantly in hopes of catching the attention of viewers flipping through channels. He said he hopes to build some momentum that would make him competitive with fellow Democrats Treasurer Kathleen Brown and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi by the time the three debate later this month.