Contra Costa Times Examines Donations to Schwarzenegger, Including Some From Pharmaceutical Company, Insurer
The Contra Costa Times on Thursday examined recent donations to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) from groups with "very specific agendas," including a pharmaceutical company and health insurer, despite the governor's efforts to "head off criticism of his fund raising by creating an ever-evolving set of restrictions that prevent certain groups from giving him money."
According to the Times, Schwarzenegger last week accepted a $5,000 donation from an unnamed pharmaceutical company "days after signing a bill ... that expands its access to state nursing homes." In addition, Dentists Insurance, which is owned by the California Dental Association, two weeks ago gave Schwarzenegger a $25,000 donation at a time when the governor was considering legislation that would impose new limits on state regulators who oversee the dental industry, which "could save their company hundreds of thousands of dollars," according to the Times.
Schwarzenegger has previously refused donations from single-interest trade associations, such as the California Medical Association, and the governor last week returned a $25,000 donation from Liberty Mutual because of the insurer's work on state workers' compensation insurance system reform.
Schwarzenegger campaign fund-raiser Marty Wilson Wednesday said that he was not aware that Dentists Insurance was owned by the dental trade group and that the donation might be returned.
Schwarzenegger Press Secretary Margita Thompson on Wednesday '"rejected any implication that the governor had rewarded, or would reward, donors by approving or rejecting their pet bills," the Times reports. She said, "The governor has no idea who gives to him or when they give to him. I've seen him as he's deliberating over bills, and he's always focused on doing what's right for the people and looking at things from the policy perspective, not the political one."
Edwin Bender, executive director of the Institute on Money in State Politics, said that regardless of whether Schwarzenegger is giving preference to campaign donors by signing their bills, he is reinforcing that impression. "Schwarzenegger is spending taxpayer money, and every time he gives something away, he's giving away the taxpayers' money to a special interest. Special interests should not have an influence on our capital. And they should not buy their way in" (Nissenbaum, Contra Costa Times, 9/16).
In other news, Schwarzenegger on Wednesday vetoed two health-related measures. Summaries of the bills appears below.
AB 2686, sponsored by Assembly member Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), would have encouraged school district officials to provide students with more information on the nutritional value of school lunches. In his veto message, Schwarzenegger said that although he was concerned about childhood obesity, "simply providing parents and students with nutritional information can only make a marginal change in behavior, unless it is coupled with more enforceable mechanisms."
- AB 2504, sponsored by Assembly member Abel Maldonado (R-San Luis Obispo), would have provided 25 low-income schools with fruits and vegetables at no cost. Schwarzenegger said that he vetoed the bill because it was linked to another bill that the Legislature rejected (Nissenbaum, San Jose Mercury News, 9/16).