provided Democrats many reasons to enthusiastically support our genuinely progressive wonk nominee, Phil Angelides. This will be the first of two diaries explaining some of the reasons why Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the charming moderate he pretends to be, and deserves to be expelled from office.
BONDS AND OTHER BUDGET GIMMICKS
The Enron-triggered energy crisis caused a state budget disaster, which was the key to Governor Gray Davis's unpopularity. While campaigning, Schwarzenegger hammered Davis over the budget. From the L.A. Times:
During his campaign, Schwarzenegger promised to "end the crazy deficit spending" and "ensure that California government lives within its means -- something working families manage to do every day -- and rein in spending to close the operating deficit."
But, having avoided discussing his own proposed solutions during the campaign, upon taking office Schwarzenegger finally released his budget plan. The most significant aspect was the sale of bonds, incurring even more state debt, while deferring any real solution to the distant future!
As Adam Sparks explained in the S.F. Chronicle
The Terminator is proposing the state's largest bond in our history. It will have the taxpayers tied up mercilessly for several generations to come. He has proposed a bond initiative, Proposition 57, that will raise $15 billion to cover the state's current deficits.
And while many top Democrats signed on to the proposal, one significant state office holder didn't:
The highest-ranking state official to oppose the bond measure remains state Treasurer Phil Angelides, who issued a statement calling the $15 billion borrowing plan "fiscally irresponsible, unfair to working Californians and damaging to our future economic competitiveness."
Schwarzenegger then resorted to typical Republican budget gimmickry, raising various state fees, so he could continue to give lip service to opposing raises in taxes. As the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out:
GOV. ARNOLD Schwarzenegger's logic seems to go something like this: Raising ''fees'' will help get us out of our fiscal hole, but raising ''taxes'' would be unfair to Californians and destructive to our economy.
So he railed against restoring the vehicle license fee to its pre-boom year levels by saying it was, in reality, a tax on the average Californian.
Now he wants to increase by 10 percent the ''fees'' levied on undergraduates attending our state-funded colleges and universities, and to raise ''fees'' for community colleges by nearly 50 percent. Graduate students will be socked with another 40 percent increase.
He also seems to be angling to raise fees as much as 10 percent each year in perpetuity -- along with deep cuts in student financial aid.
THE WHORE OF BABBLE-ON
During the 2003 recall campaign, Schwarzenegger liked to emphasize that his great personal wealth would inure him to the need to sell-out to special interests, through campaign fundraising. It was one of the most explicit differences he liked to delineate between himself and embattled incumbent Gray Davis; but once elected, he wasted no time proving it a bald-faced lie. From the January 1, 2004 Los Angeles Times:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who denounced political fundraising while running or office, is opening two new campaign accounts that together establish a year-round political operation.
By February, 2004, Harmon Leon, of the
Sacramento News & Review was writing the following:
"I don't need to take money from anyone. I have plenty of money myself." These were once the arrogant words of sausage-fingered Arnold Schwarzenegger. Remember his recall-election gibberish, when he insisted he didn't need to rely on special-interest donors? The other week alone, he raked in $1,727,766, shooting his total take since the election to more than $5,817,996. At an upcoming dinner hosted by New York Governor George Pataki, there's a minimum donation of $50,000, and Democrats and Sacramento Kings owners Gavin and Joe Maloof hosted a small $100,000-a-plate dinner on the night of a recent home game. Arnold is now a fund-raising whore....
This may well be the highest solicitation on record to aid a campaign in California, all for a man who once said in a radio interview, "Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something."
It didn't stop there. That same month, he was recruiting big money from out-of-state donors. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
THE INVITATION to East Coast high rollers to join Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's ''California Recovery Team'' is an expensive, and cynical, twist to the ''Join Arnold'' battle cry that dominated his recall campaign last fall....
The only requirement is ponying up $500,000 to attend an intimate fund- raising dinner on Feb. 24 at the New York City home of Robert Wood Johnson IV, heir to the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson's fortune. For that amount, you get to be a listed as a ''chairman'' and secure a table for 10. A $50,000 contribution is required just to get through the door.
And he just kept going:
But now, nearly a month after the new governor introduced his budget, he continues to jet around the state and the nation, seeking campaign donations of up to $500,000 apiece, becoming the most aggressive fund-raising governor in California's history.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to come to Washington as a "collectinator" for California, but what he collected Tuesday was mostly contributions for a possible re-election campaign.
And is now, unapologetic about obliterating all campaign fundraising records.
Angelides' campaign issued a statement citing candidate Schwarzenegger's promise in 2003 that he wouldn't raise money from "special interests."
"Since then, he's taken more than $100 million from oil companies, HMOs, drug companies and insurance companies," the statement said. Schwarzenegger's campaign statement said: "We are grateful for everyone who supports the governor and his vision to move California forward."
Ever a man of the people, Schwarzenegger even held a fundaiser at a Boston Rolling Stones concert. In a luxury box paid for by Ameriquest. At $100,000 per ticket. From the S.F. Chronicle:
Schwarzenegger will host a private reception for 40 guests who give $10,000 each to his campaign account. Guests contributing $100,000 apiece will be invited to watch the concert with Schwarzenegger in a luxury box.
The concert event was arranged after mortgage lender Ameriquest, the lead sponsor of the Stones' 2005 tour, offered Schwarzenegger more than three dozen center stage and luxury box seats. A company spokesman refused comment to the San Francisco Chronicle.
He also raised money from one type of lobby he'd specifically criticized Davis for having raised money from.
Schwarzenegger has been critical of Davis and his administration for weeks, but recently started running a TV ad criticizing Davis, Bustamante and McClintock for taking money from Indian tribes that own casinos.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will return a $50,000 donation from a partner in a tribal casino project after The Associated Press raised questions about the governor's pledge to limit political contributions, an aide said.
Last week at a birthday celebration fundraising event in Yuba City, the governor received a $50,000 contribution from Yuba County Entertainment LLC, a partner in a proposed hotel and casino development south of the town of Olivehurst.
The AP questioned the donation Wednesday because Schwarzenegger made a promise during the 2003 recall campaign not to accept campaign contributions from groups that negotiate directly with his office. He specifically identified Indian tribal gambling as among those special interests.
Note that Schwarzenegger only decided to return the money after getting caught by the Associated Press!
And, of course, such a profligate fundraiser isn't going to bother paying attention to the whos or hows. As long as the money's flowing in, why ask questions? Same familiar faces appear in his honor roll of donors.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Schwarzenegger's ties to Cunningham scandal co-conspirator Brent Wilkes:
Poway military contractor Brent Wilkes - whom Justice Department officials identify as the co-conspirator - has long been active in local political circles, serving as the San Diego County finance co-chairman of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign and the state finance co-chairman for President Bush.
And Bill Frogameni, in Salon, reported that he also received money from Ohio's "Coingate" mastermind, Tom Noe:
As it turns out, it's been revealed that Noe and his wife, Bernadette (who chaired the Lucas County Republicans through the election), have together given more than $200,000 to GOP candidates and PACs locally, statewide and nationally over the last 15 years. Among the list of Noe beneficiaries are Taft, Sens. Voinovich and Mike DeWine, Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Bush.
And swamped with so much money, who could even bother paying attention to things like laws?
As covered by the Associated Press, he was already violating campaign finance laws during the Davis recall:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger broke a state law during the closing weeks of the recall race when he took out $4.5 million in bank loans to help his cash-starved campaign, according to a preliminary ruling from a superior court judge.
And a complaint is still pending against Schwarzenegger for failing to report a gift from a magazine publisher to one of his favorite charities:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has failed to report that American Media Inc. -- publisher of the National Enquirer and top body-building magazines - - gave $250,000 this year to one of his pet charities in a move critics charge may be a violation of state ethics law.
EMBRACED TYPICAL REPUBLICAN SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
With all that special interest money to keep him happy, it should be little wonder that, rather than sweeping them out of Sacramento, Schwarzenegger has done nothing but embrace them.
To get the ball rolling, Schwarzenegger's first Chief of Staff was an HMO lobbyist! From the San Francisco Chronicle
Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, who campaigned as an outsider who could transform the state Capitol's political culture, announced Wednesday that his chief of staff will be a former Wilson administration official who has worked for the last two years overseeing the lobbying efforts of a major health care company....
"We're worried,'' said Beth Capell, a lobbyist for Health Access, noting that Health Net "worked really hard to kill most HMO reforms'' proposed during Davis' reign. The company aggressively lobbied this year against legislation that would have required health plans to seek approval from a state agency to raise consumer rates.
As the Capitol Weekly pointed out, earlier this year, she left the Capitol through the same revolving door she had entered:
Former Schwarzenegger Chief of Staff Pat Clarey has landed back at her old employer, this time as Health Net's California COO.
And then, to literally attack the budget, Schwarzenegger brought in Jeb Bush's finance director! As Harold Meyerson wrote in The American Prospect:
Called in to do the cutting for Schwarzenegger's first budget, however, was Donna Arduin, Jeb Bush's finance director in Florida, whose reputation is that of a hard-right enemy of all social welfare.
And while he began his tenure as a quasi-environmentalist, Schwarzenegger, more and more, began to follow the G.W. Bush model of appointing foxes to guard the environmental henhouse. As reported in the L.A. Times:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who enthused activists and unnerved business leaders with many of his early appointments to top environmental slots, is increasingly favoring industry officials for key jobs protecting California's forests, air and water.
Schwarzenegger's effort to be a green Republican has been one of the principal ways the governor has depicted himself as being above Sacramento's traditional partisan divides. But in a reversal from the beginning of his tenure, it is now environmentalists who are objecting that Schwarzenegger has bent too far to one side.
The complaints mirror a larger one that has been leveled against the governor all year: that he has become too closely aligned with the business interests that are underwriting his November special election.
And when it came time to overhaul state government, Schwarzenegger turned to big donors, and ignored public interest groups. From the L.A. Times:
Some of California's most influential business interests - including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and EDS - were given easy access to a state commission as it met privately to recommend sweeping government changes, according to disclosure reports and interviews.
Public interest groups, in contrast, complained Friday that they were largely excluded from the five-month study, ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As reported by the Associated Press, Schwarzenegger even allowed big donor Chevron:
to shape such key recommendations as the removal of restrictions on oil refineries.
As Amanda Griscom pointed out, in Salon:
And the participation didn't stop there. ChevronTexaco donated $100,000 to a political fund directly tied to Schwarzenegger just weeks after the report's release, according to AP. The company also helped foot the bill for the governor and his staff to attend the GOP convention, and last week Schwarzenegger held a closed-door meeting for officials from ChevronTexaco and the other companies that sponsored his travel.
SWEEPING SOMEONE OUT OF THE STATE CAPITOL
In fact, the only people Schwarzenegger did sweep out of Sacramento were those who actually regulated special interests! As reported in the S.F. Chronicle:
Under the plan, several powerful state boards would disappear -- the Air Resources Board, the State Water Resources Control Board and the regional water-quality boards, among others -- and be replaced by a centralized state Department of the Environment. The new department would have five divisions -- air quality; water quality; pollution prevention, recycling and waste management; site cleanup and emergency response, and pesticide regulation.
The state Board of Forestry and some others would be folded into a Department of Natural Resources.
The performance review team says abolishing some 118 boards -- of 339 that it evaluated -- and eliminating 1,150 appointees would promote government efficiency and responsibility. No estimate was made of the money it would save. "There is a value judgment here. We're trying to enhance accountability and increase efficiency,'' said Chris Reynolds, a policy analyst for the Board of Forestry who led the team making the environmental recommendations.
But many legislators and environmental groups say Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who ordered the review, is responding to campaign promises to forge a "business-friendly California'' by getting rid of some of the most effective boards, which have routinely set national precedents with their policies cracking down on air and water polluters.
In that same day's paper, it was also reported:
Logging of California's forests and construction of new oil refineries could proceed more swiftly under two new recommendations growing out of a five-month review of cost and efficiency initiated by the governor.
The two proposals in the California Performance Review -- "streamlining permitting to reduce petroleum infrastructure bottlenecks'' and "improving the timber harvest plan development and review process'' -- mirror changes long sought by the timber and oil industries, environmentalists say.
And he ensured that it remains easy for special interests to buy influence on the Coastal Commission. According to a Sierra Club analysis of coastal issues:
AB 771, authored by Assemblywoman Lori Saldana (D-San Diego), would have dramatically improved recording
requirements and public disclosure of lobbying contacts involving Coastal Commissioners. AB 771 passed the
California Legislature in 2005 but was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger on October 7, 2005.
And in another fine example of the contempt in which he holds this critically important regulatory body, he also slashed its budget. Again, from the Sierra Club:
Gov. Schwarzenegger talks tough about stopping offshore oil drilling and protecting our coast and ocean - but in July he "lined out" of the state budget $950,000 for the Coastal Commission.
The commission is the only state agency that can oppose the Bush administration's push for more offshore oil drilling, and the only state agency with jurisdiction over all four proposed California liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) terminals. Because of the governor's action, the commission will continue to have only three staff positions to review all the energy projects along 1,100 miles of coast: the 36 oil leases, the four LNG proposals, all coastal power-plant upgrades, and more than 20 proposed desalination plants.
Days after reaching `agreement' with the legislature on a budget, the governor exercised his line-item veto to cut a total of $40 million of environmental funding from the just-approved budget.
USA Today made Schwarzenegger's style explicitly clear:
Wal-Mart and its founding Walton family have emerged as big backers of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, giving about $1 million in the past year to his favored causes as he vetoed legislation aimed at the company.
One union-backed bill, which Schwarzenegger vetoed early in October, would have forced the state to disclose names of companies whose workers get government health services meant for poor residents.
A second bill, vetoed last year, would have stopped employers from locking workers inside workplaces -- a policy Wal-Mart has when employees stock shelves and clean floors after closing hours.
The bills reflect issues creating a public relations nightmare for the USA's biggest private employer, with 1.3million workers, as it expands in California, the USA's biggest market. Critics including Wake-Up Wal-Mart accuse it of endangering workers by locking them in stores, and of reducing its health care costs at taxpayer expense.
Not surprisingly, the same pay-to-play politics seems to apply to the health care industry. As the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights pointed out:
The Schwarzenegger Administration agreed to a $9.2 billion merger of an HMO that is a major political donor to Governor Schwarzenegger before regulators conducted public hearings or determined whether the plan would affect the quality or cost of health care, according to an official fired yesterday for financial conflicts of interest in the merger of PacifiCare and United Health. Schwarzenegger has received $105,800 in campaign contributions from PacifiCare, $78,500 of which was received before the merger was approved.
As mentioned in my previous diary, Phil Angelides opposed the merger. Here's why:
Angelides objects to the $230 million in accelerated stock options and payments for PacifiCare executives - plus an additional $85 million in "signing bonuses" for top executives who stay with the company. That cost, he said, will eventually be passed on to California consumers.
The article goes on to say that the state Department of Managed Health Care is already investigating whether the costs of a previous merger between two insurers were passed on to policy-holders through premium hikes.
And lest you think his recent photo ops on Global Warming legislation indicate a degree of environmental responsibility, our own jennifer poole's terrific diary explained that he used a Bush-style signing statement (here, an executive order) to undermine the law, out of public view.
During the California energy crisis, while Angelides was taking the lead by trying to create a state power agency, and by flying to New York to calm worried financial markets, what was Schwarzenegger doing? As the San Francisco Chronicle reported:
Energy executive Kenneth Lay, head of powerful Enron Corp., quietly courted Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Riordan, Michael Milken and other luminaries this week in Beverly Hills to drum up support for his solution to California's energy crisis.
His prescription called for more rate increases, an end to state and federal investigations and less rather than more regulation.
Lay, a close friend of President Bush and one of his largest campaign contributors, hosted a private 90-minute meeting in a conference room at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills on Thursday.
Among the participants were Milken, the former head of the Drexel Burnham Lambert investment banking firm who pleaded guilty to fraud charges in 1990 and who now runs a think tank based in Santa Monica; movie star Schwarzenegger; and Riordan, the mayor of Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger and Riordan have been courted recently as GOP gubernatorial candidates.
One participant, who agreed to speak on the condition he not be identified, said the meeting appeared to be geared toward getting participants to support Lay's vision and then champion it to officials who are trying to solve the state's energy mess.
And the disastrous consequences of that deregulation-fueled crisis apparently didn't make much of an impression on Schwarzenegger, as Joe Conason explained, in Salon:
If and when he gets around to discussing issues, Schwarzenegger will probably attack Davis for the state's energy fiasco, which cost Californians upward of $70 billion over the past few years. And the governor does deserve his share of the blame for the mishandling of the "crisis." But perhaps then someone will ask Schwarzenegger why he appointed Pete Wilson, the former governor who signed the misbegotten deregulation bill that caused the crisis, as his campaign chairman.
Yes, Schwarzenegger's political opportunity opened in the aftermath of the energy crisis, but while it was happening, he was meeting with one of the men responsible for it, and when he decided to run for office, he appointed the man most responsible as his campaign manager! A very neat trick!
A VERY SPECIAL ELECTION
So, Schwarzenegger's a typically dishonest, sold-out Republican hack. But he really did go after what he considered to be "special interests." How cynical and perverse is his definition? To typical-Republican Schwarzenegger, the problem isn't abusive corporations, it's unions. You know- the people who represent workers!
With typical arrogance, Schwarzenegger called a special election for November 2005, and backed four ballot measures that would have undermined unions, workers, and the Democratic Party.
As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, Proposition 74 went after the teachers' union:
Proposition 74 is intended to make teacher tenure, or what is known as permanent status, harder to get and easier to lose.
Beginning teachers now have a two-year probation period during which a district can choose not to rehire them, without providing a reason or right to appeal.
The initiative would extend the probation period to five years....
(Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association) said Proposition 74 would make it more difficult to recruit and retain good teachers and said the initiative is offered in place of the smaller classes, new textbooks and better facilities that more funding could provide.
"What he is suggesting is going to hurt schools," Kerr said. "Teachers that are having difficulty need help. His proposition doesn't provide help."...
(Kerr) says Proposition 74 is intended "to punish teachers for speaking out against the governor's poor record on education and criticizing him for breaking his promise to fully fund our schools."
Proposition 75 was not part of his original agenda, but Schwarzenegger endorsed it and campaigned for it.
From the S.F. Chronicle:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, cheered on by hundreds of grassroots Republican supporters, expanded his Nov. 8 special election reform agenda on Saturday and endorsed Proposition 75 -- the initiative aimed at curbing the political clout of overwhelmingly Democratic public employee unions....
Prop. 75 -- known as "paycheck protection" -- would prohibit public employee unions from using members' dues for political campaigns and ads without their permission.
This issue is a fundamental aspect of Republican attempts to destroy the Democratic Party. Similar attempts are being made throughout the country, and it has become a staple of the national Republican Party's agenda. It bears discussion.
Forcing unions to get specific approval from each individual member for the union's political activities would essentially eliminate unions from politics. It would be impossible for any union to crunch all the data,verifying exactly how many members had given approval, and how much money that then allowed the union to spend. Even attempting to collate the data would waste union funds, and tie up personnel. It's a modern take on good old fashioned union busting. Large corporations can spend unlimited resources on political activities, but unions would be hamstrung to compete. The attempt to push such laws is nothing less than class warfare. And Schwarzenegger proved himself a soldier- on the wrong side!
Proposition 76 was designed to squeeze government spending, without putting any other budget solutions on the table. It would have also given Schwarzenegger absolute authority to slash the budget, at his will. As will be seen in my next installment about Schwarzenegger, his axe would have fallen on society's most vulnerable. But the San Diego Union-Tribune explained the basics:
The opponents of Proposition 76 are not buying the soft sell and are warning instead that the "California Live Within Our Means Act" will result in significantly less funding for schools and other programs than current law.
Another concern of opponents is that the initiative shifts too much budget power to the governor, who could make midyear spending cuts if the budget falls out of balance and the Legislature fails to close the gap in 45 days....
"We are concerned that it doesn't approach the budget in terms of what is needed," said Trudy Schafer of the League of Women Voters of California, which opposes Proposition 76. "It is aimed at solving the budget problem by reducing spending, and we feel everything should be on the table."
The Sacramento News & Review can explain Proposition 77:
Proposition 77 would have taken the job of drawing legislative lines away from the legislators and given it to a panel of retired judges.
On face value, this was the most innocuous of the four ballot measures, but given that the heavily Democratic state legislature is now charged with drawing legislative boundaries, and that Republicans have proven willing to play games with redistricting, Democrats greeted this proposal with explicable wariness.
We'll go to Fresno's KFSN-TV for the headline on the special election's results:
Voters Defeat All Four Schwarzenegger Reforms
And what did Schwarzenegger's arrogant power trip cost the taxpayers? The San Francisco Chronicle gives the pre-election estimate:
(Republican) Secretary of State Bruce McPherson last month estimated a special election could cost as much as $80 million, but late last week Schwarzenegger administration officials released a letter from McPherson saying the additional cost to counties, many of which had Nov. 8 elections for local races already scheduled, would be about $45 million.
AND, IN CLOSING
I invite you all to check out what will probably be my final diary on the California gubernatorial race, which I will post in another day or two. In that one, I will further explore Schwarzenegger's war on working people, and I will also show how he cruelly attempted to balance the budget on the backs of California's most vulnerable- the hungry and the disabled, and on university students. Finally, I will very clearly explicate his much joked about, but genuinely disgusting, abuse of women. He's not just a lousy political hack, he's a genuinely lousy guy.
And I will close with a quote that I wish would serve as Schwarzenegger's political epitaph. In his own words:
Well, ladies and gentlemen, America is back -- back from the attack on our homeland, back from the attack on our economy, and back from the attack on our way of life. We're back because of the perseverance, character and leadership of the 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush....
Our president, George W. Bush, has worked hard to protect and preserve the American dream for all of us. And that's why I say, send him back to Washington for four more years.
SCHWARZENEGGER and audience: Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years. Four more years.