Thursday, August 31, 2006

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Proposition 89

Thomas D. Elias has a must read column in the Ventura County Star:

Similarly, it was good politics for Schwarzenegger to announce as he declared for office in 2003 that he would take no campaign donations from any special interests. After all, the Gray Davis recall election he was entering had been spurred largely by Davis' apparent practice of "pay-to-play" government.

But was it honest politics? That's another one for voters to ponder in the light of Schwarzenegger taking more than $200 million over three years from corporations and executives of businesses, most of whom do business with state government.

The same with campaign finance reform. Schwarzenegger vows repeatedly to clean up politics, including a proposal to ban campaign contributions during the entire state budget approval process. Good politics, for sure.

But is it honest politics? Voters should decide based on Schwarzenegger's record. Rather than foreswearing fundraising during the budget process this year, the governor instead raised tens of millions of dollars. And he opposes Proposition 89, with its planned public financing of campaigns as a means of diminishing the influence of big donors. His reason: the proposition proposes a minuscule 0.2 percent increase in the corporate tax rate to raise the needed money.
This points to one of the major problems with the status quo. Politicians can say one thing, then go and do another and effectively avoid accountability if they raise enough money from special interests for excessive TV campaigns and glossy political mailers. Big money gets what it wants, the truth ends up on the editing room floor, and the voters lose.