A quick look at California politics

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Excerpts from the most recent issue of the Political Pulse

FPPC moves to close loophole in state campaign finance law

The Fair Political Practices Commission ruled this week that contributions to candidate-controlled committees will now fall under the contribution caps already in place for donations to political candidates.

That means that donations to committees like Gov. Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team can now only take checks up to $21,200. That could threaten to slow the governor’s record-breaking fundraising pace.

During his first year in office, the governor has regularly taken in six-figure checks into this Recovery Team PAC. The governor has used the Recovery Team and other PACs to shatter fundraising records in his first year in office. According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, the governor has raised more than $26.6 million in his first year in office. That’s more than double the previous record of $13.2 million held by Gov. Davis.

During the closing days of the 2004 fall campaign, millionaire Henry Nicholas wrote a check for $1.5 million to the governor to help in the effort to defeat Prop. 66, which would have weakened the state’s Three Strikes Law. With that check, Nicholas leap-frogged to the top of the governor’s donor list.

Below is a list of the 22 donors who have contributed at least $200,000 to the governor’s various committees since he announced his candidacy for governor last year. The list comes from the Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumer Rights, a group that has often been critical of the governor and his fundraising habits. More information on the governor’s contributions can be found at their Web site: www.arnoldwatch.org/special_interests/index.html.

Henry Nicholas / NS Holdings LLC $1,500,000

Ameriquest Capital Corporation $1,211,400

A. G. Spanos Companies /CEO: Alex G. Spanos & Family $1,114,700

Jerry Perenchio / Chartwell Partners $792,400

William A. Robinson $650,000

Emulex / CEO: Paul Folino $488,764

The New Majority Committee /

The New Majority PAC $473,500

William Lyon Homes /

William Lyon & Employees $466,200

American Sterling Corporation $436,200

Castle & Cooke, Inc. / Dole Food Co. $352,000

Security National Servicing Corporation &

Race Investments, LLC /

Owners: Robin P. & Cherie P. Arkley $332,400

Newscorp / News America Incorporated /Fox

$281,200

Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers $277,836

Hewlett Packard $271,200

Toyota USA / Toyota Dealerships $258,133

Anheuser Busch Companies $250,000

L.A. Arena Company $250,000

Target Corporation $240,000

Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson /Timothy Draper

$232,400

Eli Broad / KB Home $228,087

The Irvine Company & Employees $223,200

ChevronTexaco Corporation $222,200

Wal-Mart / John T. Walton $210,000

Pacific Gas & Electric $200,000

Rise and Fall

€ California Recovery Team – The Fair Political Practices Commission rules that contributions to the governor’s committee PAC cannot exceed the normal campaign contribution limits to candidates.

€ Ann Veneman (Secretary of Agriculture) – After reportedly telling the president she was interested in sticking around, the lone California Republican in the Bush cabinet is asked to step aside.

€ Arnold for president – Hey, it’s still a long shot. But those ads paid for by Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones give the chattering class something to gnaw on now that the election is over.

€ Blogs – Just weeks ago, they were heralded as the coming of the new media age. Now, they’re blamed for everything from misusing exit poll data to spreading election-related conspiracy theories. For more, check out www.calraces.com.

€ Bonds – Californians don’t seem to like taxes, but they don’t mind breaking out the credit card for new bonds. Look for more bond measures coming soon to a ballot near you.

€ Arnold’s appointment book – Though Prop. 59 did not go as far as many open government advocates would have liked, the governor has said that in light of the passage of the new law, he will turn over parts of his daily calendar for public scrutiny.

€ The Hyatt – For a year now, the Capital Hyatt has served as the governor’s home away from home. But the $70,000 plus the governor spends on hotel bills can no longer be paid for by the governor’s PAC. That has a new group, headed by GOP attorney Tom Hiltachk, looking for new permanent digs for California’s top elected official.

€ Bruce McPherson – Now that the well-respected Republican moderate is officially leaving the Legislature, and EPA Secretary Terry Tamminen has been named the governor’s cabinet secretary, McPherson is said to be lobbying for the EPA job.

€ San Diego – The city is rocked by a pension scandal, its recent mayoral election remains in doubt, and to add insult to injury, the Milken Institute has knocked the city off the list of America’s top ten economically best-performing cities.

By the Numbers

€ Percentage of Californians who were unemployed in the month of October – 5.7

€ State’s unemployment rate in October 2003 – 6.7

€ The last time the state’s monthly unemployment rate was at 5.7 percent – 2001

€ Total number of nonfarm payroll jobs in California, according to the Employment Development Department – 14,576,700

€ Rank of Ventura and Merced among California’s 58 counties that have most often voted with the winner of a presidential election since 1912 – 1

€ Percentage of elections in which the winner of a national presidential election has carried Merced or Ventura Counties – 92

€ Rank of the state’s least populated county, Alpine County, as a national bell weather – 58 (out of 58 counties)

€ Amount that 28 California non-profit groups will receive to provide “nutrition services and public health advocacy” as part of an $80 million settlement with drug companies over a vitamin price-fixing case – $12,980,000

€ Percent by which Treasurer Phil Angelides wants the state’s two largest pension fund organizations to cut energy costs on their properties within five years – 20

€ Estimated value of the real estate assets held by CalPERS and CalSTRS pension funds – $16,000,000,000

€ Amount that Diebold Election Systems, the manufacturer of touch screen voting machines, has agreed to pay in the settlement of a case charging the firm provided false information to state and local officials – $2,600,000

€ Amount of that money which will go to UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies to “fund research aimed at training poll workers in the use of electronic voting technology” – $500,000