California Politics

February 8, 2007

Governor’s use of AT&T’s Campaign Contribution Raises Suspicions

In disclosures filed with the state this week, AT&T reported donating $25,000 to Governor Schwarzenegger’s campaign on Nov. 14 of last year. Four days later, on Nov. 18, Susan Kennedy, then a Public Utility Commission PUC member, voted to approve AT&T’s merger with SBC Communications. Twenty one days later, on December 5th, Governor Schwarzenegger paid that exact amount- $25,000- to Susan Kennedy claiming she was a “campaign consultant”. At the time, he had already announced that Kennedy would become his chief of staff, although she stayed on the PUC for the final month of 2005.

Consumer activists have rebuked the Governor and Kennedy because of the strongly suspected “quid pro quo” nature of this decision that was made in AT&T’s favor. Bob Finkelstein, executive director of the Utility Reform Network of San Francisco, said: “The timeline is pretty damning.” TURN, a group that advocates on behalf of consumers, also opposed the way the PUC approved SBC’s purchase of AT&T, and says the decision will cost consumers more than $330 million. Doug Heller, of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, called on Kennedy to return the $25,000 she took from Schwarzenegger: “The PUC ought to throw out any votes that involved her on this telecommunications rule,” Heller said. “It is an absolute conflict that goes to the heart of what’s wrong with use of public officials in campaign functions”. A spokesman for the Governor denied any connection between the donations and Kennedy’s actions in her final days as a Public Utility commissioner.

Filed under California Politics, Governor Schwarzenegger, Telecommunications by

February 2, 2007

Governor paid huge Staff Bonuses in spite of campaign debt

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Governor Schwarzenegger racked up more than $2 million in campaign debt in last year’s election. In spite of this, the Governor paid huge “bonuses” to his staff for moonlighting work on the campaign while on the state payroll. After his victory on Nov. 7 the governor paid more than a quarter million dollars in bonuses to four of his senior staff members including a payment of $100,000 to Susan Kennedy, his Chief of Staff. A spokeswoman for the Governor said, “They put in a tremendous amount of hours on the campaign trail before and after work and on weekends, and they were compensated for that time.”

Do they really expect us to believe this nonsense? Even private sector salaried workers are expected to be dedicated to their jobs and are not paid for overtime work. Government employees are never supposed to use their jobs to collect pay offs like this- especially when they involve the obvious potential for conflict of interest. With the responsibilities associated with being senior officials in the California government, exactly how much free time do these guys have? The Governor and his staff are on extremely shaky ground here. As anyone who has tried to contact the Governor’s Office knows, unless you are a big shot they are just not interested.

As the Times reported, the Governor won’t have to struggle to cover his campaign debt, “Now that Schwarzenegger is embarked on another four-year term, he can tap businesses and other special interests whose fortunes depend on state action”. This is just one baby step removed from total corruption. Every decision made by the Governor’s office involving these campaign contributors must now be considered to be tainted. This is just plain wrong, and the money should be returned without delay.

Filed under California Politics, Governor Schwarzenegger, Opinion by

January 30, 2007

Pearls Before Swine: More on the South America Junket

More on the State Government’s South America Junket from the San Diego Reader. This is really a shame, and goes a long way towards explaining why our government is hostile to small business international interests. Why wouldn’t they be- when the big Corporations wine and dine them like this:

“Paid for by an outfit called the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, the trip began two days after the November 7 election and wound up November 22, with nights along the way spent in at least five luxury hotels, including the Copacabana Palace in Rio and the Alvear Palace in Buenos Aires. In addition to Saldaña, the high-flying delegation included Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles; Susan Kennedy, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chief of staff; a variety of members of both houses of the legislature from both parties; and high-powered lobbyists from Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, Sempra Energy, Comcast, and Chevron, all backers of the foundation bankrolling the trip”

Filed under California Politics, Opinion by

January 22, 2007

Governor’s Chief of Staff, other aides get huge bonus for political work

From the Los Angeles Times:

Four senior aides to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were paid nearly a quarter-million dollars in bonuses for political work they performed during the governor’s race – money that came from insurers, oil companies, real estate developers and other private interests that contributed to the governor’s campaign. Chief of staff Susan Kennedy received a $100,000 bonus as a reward for the time she devoted to Schwarzenegger’s reelection bid, the governor’s office said Friday. With that bonus, Kennedy has collected $323,500 in campaign and taxpayer money in her year as Schwarzenegger’s top aide.

Now that big Corporations are greasing the palms of people in our Government, small business and everyday citizens no longer stand much of a chance to influence the policies of this administration. Maybe the Governor should give them another bonus for doing their normal administrative duties- or better yet, dock their pay for all the things they ignored while they were playing politics. Like for example, responding to letters written to them by ordinary citizens.

Filed under California Government, California Politics, Governor Schwarzenegger by

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