With Bills in Play, Gov. Solicits Cash
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not inspecting the orange crop when he slipped out of the state for a quick trip to Florida, and he wasn’t eyeing a new set of wheels when he visited with car dealers.
Nor was he parched when he bellied up to liquor dealers in Lake Tahoe, or craving a burger when he chatted with Jack-in-the-Box owners. Rather, he was gobbling up campaign money at each stop.
For the record:
12:00 a.m. Sept. 13, 2006 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 13, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Governor’s fundraising: An article in Monday’s Section A about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fundraising described a pending bill, SB 1640, as a measure to increase monitoring of contaminants in groundwater. In fact, it would increase monitoring of groundwater supply.
As legislators were approving more than 1,000 bills in August, Schwarzenegger was crossing the state, and the country, soliciting campaign cash. Now, as he decides whether to sign those bills into law or nix them with a veto, he will be cashing checks from scores of contributors whose interests intersect with legislation.
Schwarzenegger is vastly out-raising his Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides. He has taken $26.4 million into his reelection account so far this year, compared with Angelides’ $13.4 million, according to records filed with the Secretary of State’s office.
Last week alone, the Republican governor held five fundraisers, including two on Friday in the Central Valley, two in Los Angeles and one in suburban Sacramento. He has scheduled at least 22 such events this month.
“This is exactly the kind of practice he said he was going to Sacramento to end,” said Angelides consultant Bill Carrick.
As a candidate in the 2003 recall campaign, Schwarzenegger called for fundraising blackout periods covering times when weighty decisions were being made. The proposal was a swipe at then-Gov. Gray Davis -- the man Schwarzenegger ousted -- who used the months when he was signing bills as prime fundraising season.
Schwarzenegger never followed through on his own idea.
Former Gov. George Deukmejian, a Republican and a Schwarzenegger backer who chastised Davis for raising money during bill signings, similarly criticized the current governor in an interview last week.
“Personally, I think that should be avoided because it a very sensitive time,” Deukmejian said. “It is the appearance. I’m sure he wouldn’t do anything in exchange for a contribution. But it does give that appearance. That should be avoided.”
Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Matt David said the governor is not influenced by the money he raises. “The governor makes decisions based on what is in the best interest of Californians,” David said.
In his quest to be reelected, Schwarzenegger is raising money from all manner of businesses: restaurants, insurance companies, banks, financial services providers, construction and real estate interests, farmers, energy producers and car dealers. All have business before the state.
New-car dealers have given Schwarzenegger almost $1 million this year, nearly $80,000 of it in August. Angelides has received less than $11,000 from donors who identify themselves as car dealers.
The car sales industry has taken positions on numerous bills awaiting the governor’s action. One measure, by Assemblyman Joe Nation (D-San Rafael), would require that half of all cars sold in California by 2020 be fueled by alternative sources.
Peter Welch, president of the California Motor Car Dealers Assn., said he feared the bill would limit showroom selection and hike costs. But he also said no single action by the governor would turn car dealers against him; they support Schwarzenegger because of his generally pro-business attitude, including opposition to taxes and support for freeway construction.
For the dealers, Welch said, the choice between the two candidates “is night and day. The choice is very stark.”
Agriculture is another sector that gives heavily to Schwarzenegger -- more than $1 million this year -- and little to Angelides. The California Farm Bureau co-hosted a fundraiser for Schwarzenegger on Friday in Modesto.
Several bills pending before the governor would affect farmers. The Farm Bureau opposes SB 1640 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica), that would increase monitoring of contaminants in groundwater. Another, SB 815 by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), could lead to higher workers’ compensation charges for employers, farmers say.
George Gomes, the California Farm Bureau’s administrator, said he doubts any single donation sways a governor. He noted that Schwarzenegger has championed issues dear to farmers, such as increasing water supplies for the state. And like the car dealers, farmers are alarmed by Angelides’ talk of tax hikes.
“That is a clear signal about how little he cares about farmers,” Gomes said, in a reference to the Democrat. “Agriculture is more conservative and has supported the more conservative candidates.”
For his part, Angelides depleted his campaign account in his successful primary run against state Controller Steve Westly, which cost $28 million. Westly, a wealthy former EBay executive, spent $43 million on his losing effort.
Angelides apparently is having a tough time replenishing his account. A review of his reports to the secretary of state shows he has raised less than $6 million since the June primary election, scarcely enough to pay for three weeks of television time. Schwarzenegger has raised $9 million during that time.
Angelides is drawing heavily on organized labor and trial attorneys, two Democratic Party mainstays. The party, its activists and its satellite organizations delivered another major slice of the money he has raised this year.
The governor has received nothing from organized labor. Wealthy individuals, businesses and their trade associations are the foundation of his fundraising.
Larry Ruvo, head of Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada, hosted a money-raiser for Schwarzenegger last month in Lake Tahoe. Ruvo and his group’s affiliates have donated almost $100,000 to the governor’s reelection effort this year and have a high-priced lobbyist in Sacramento. Among the bills they have lobbied for is one on the governor’s desk, SB 1548, by state Sen. Kevin Murray (D-Culver City). It would ease rules on the samples that salesmen can give restaurant and bar owners.
Hardware retailer Home Depot gave $22,300 to the governor Aug. 30. That same day, the Senate gave final approval to legislation that would, if the governor signs it, impose more restrictions on the use of lead in pipes, particularly in faucets. Home Depot lists that measure, AB 1953 by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan (D-Alameda), among those on which the company’s lobbyists worked, but the company declined to comment.
Jack-in-the-Box franchise owners gathered for a Schwarzenegger fundraiser last week in suburban Sacramento. Like much of the restaurant industry, the fast-food company opposed the minimum wage hike that Schwarzenegger is expected to sign.
However, Jack-in-the-Box spokesman Brian Luscomb said his company was pleased that Schwarzenegger softened the wage hike’s impact by blocking a provision that would have allowed automatic minimum wage increases tied to inflation.
Ben Nematzadeh, who owns 30 Jack-in-the-Box stores in Southern California, spoke by phone as he prepared to fly to Sacramento for the fundraiser, held at the home of another owner of Jack-in-the-Box businesses.
He supports the governor for many reasons, he said, but was particularly laudatory of Schwarzenegger’s effort in 2004 to cut employers’ costs for workers’ compensation insurance.
“Premiums went up to the roof,” Nematzadeh said. “Something needed to be done.”
Major workers’ compensation legislation is pending before the governor this year; it would boost payments to permanently disabled workers. Many business groups are opposing the measure, Perata’s bill.
On the last weekend in August, as legislators prepared for their final sprint before adjourning for the year, Schwarzenegger traveled to Florida for a fundraiser organized by his brother-in-law, Anthony Shriver.
The event was at the home of a major donor to Republican candidates and causes, Randal Perkins, and generated about $500,000. Perkins’ firm, Ashbritt Environmental, does cleanup after natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina. According to Perkins’ lobbyist, Ronald L. Book, Ashbritt has no state contracts in California.
However, several donors who gave at the fundraiser do have business here. Geo Group, a Florida firm that operates private prisons, has long sought more business in California. Geo’s Sacramento lobbyists worked to shape the governor’s prison overhaul package, which failed in the Legislature on the final day of its session.
The package might have increased the number of California inmates housed by private firms.
Florida-based car dealer Autonation contributed $22,300 to Schwarzenegger -- the maximum allowed under state law -- and its executives cosponsored the event.
Autonation has a lobby presence in Sacramento and worked on several bills this year, at least one of which is awaiting the governor’s action.
That measure, SB 1542 by Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco), would require that manufacturers replace car keys for motorists who lose them.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)
Raising campaign funds
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has raised more than $26 million so far this year. Here are some of the mane sources, in percentage of that sum:
*--* Percentage of contributions State issues Real estate 18% Flood plain development;funding construction for public works; tenants rights Finance, banking, 17.4% Workers compensation;consumer insurance banking; insurance privacy; other business-related issues Entertainment 5.3% Taxation;tourism;other business- related issues Agriculture 4.5% Water supply; property regulations; workers’ compensation Car dealers 3.7% Higher fees for car buyers;pollution restrictions;alternative energy Attorneys 2.1% Worker’s compensation;right-to-sue issues; other issues Oil and energy 1.5% Alternative energy; pollution controls Political parties, 1.2% Various organizations, activists
Sources: California secretary of state, Times reporting