Your Tax Dollars on the Campaign Trail

Well, Arnold promised to be a different kind of governor when he ran for office back in the recall election, and he is. In some ways. In June, Governor Schwarzenegger's office put out a press release marking the 62nd anniversary of the D-Day invasion, and hailing the heroism of the US troops. This was a little surprising, since Arnold had ignored the 60th anniversary in 2004 (as well as the 61st the next year), but maybe it shows the different kind of thinking Arnold brings to the office-- he won't be bound by the tradition of marking anniversaries at the normal 10 or 5 year interval, he sees the beauty in less noted anniversaries. Or it could mean, that like a shop-soiled traditional pol coughed up by a smoke-filled backroom, Arnold is throwing every taxpayer dollar he can into his reelection bid, while pretending to be performing public services.

From this morning's Reg:

An Orange County Register analysis has found that the governor's office is putting out nearly twice as many policy-related press releases per month in 2006 as it has in previous years.

The spike comes as Schwarzenegger battles state Treasurer Phil Angelides for votes in the race for governor.

Lawmakers are allowed to use tax dollars and taxpayer-funded resources to publicize their activities and positions as officeholders, though they are prohibited by law from using that money to aid a campaign.

But the line can be fuzzy. And Capitol watchers say Schwarzenegger – like any public official – ultimately reaps the same benefit from a press release put out by his office as he does from one put out by those running his campaign.

The ability to use taxpayer money to generate buzz around a candidate is what analysts and politicians call the power of incumbency.

How much the governor spends on each press release is unknown.

The governor, of course, has made clear his opposition to Prop 89 (which would offer public financing for candidates as a way of dilluting the power of special interest money) or any other effort to introduce public funding of elections. Although to judge by his new found enthusiasm for tapping the public coffers to announce his equally new found enthusiasm for things like the anniversary of D-Day, the governor's not opposed to all use of the public's money in campaign efforts. Maybe, if we're lucky, his office will issue a press release clarifying his position.


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