Arnold Schwarzenegger: Pumping Dollars

In a state which has had as governor both Pete Wilson and Gray Davis, two men who could squeeze campaign contributions out of a stone, it would take a very special politician to set a new standard for money grubbing. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a very special politician. A story from The Associated Press shows just how special he is.

An exhaustive review of campaign finance records by The Associated Press reveals that Schwarzenegger is on pace to become the most prolific fundraiser in California history. He has raised $113.4 million in the little more than three years since he launched his campaign to replace Democrat Gray Davis, who often was accused of having a ''pay to play'' approach to governing that favored his donors.

That amount is nearly as much as the $120 million Davis raised over seven years for two gubernatorial campaigns and to fight the recall effort. It also is more than three times as much as Schwarzenegger's Democratic opponent in Tuesday's election, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, has received during roughly the same period.

Schwarzenegger has done it despite having voter-imposed contribution limits on some of his campaign committees that Davis did not face until the 2003 recall campaign.

During his brief but dollar-soaked time in office, Arnold has been taking in an average of $95,000 a day. And where is the money coming from?

Schwarzenegger has raised his campaign money in large part by mining board rooms and executive suites from the Silicon Valley to Wall Street, the AP analysis shows. About 75 percent of his donations have come from contributors who have given him at least $10,000. Most of that money has come from businesses and business executives.

Spanish-language television magnate Jerry Perenchio, Stockton developer and San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos and William Robinson, founder of the DHL courier service, each have given the governor more than $2 million.

Mortgage lender Ameriquest Capital Corp., the California Republican Party, Henry Nicholas, chairman of NS Holdings LLC, and B. Wayne Hughes, chairman of Public Storage Inc., have chipped in more than $1 million apiece.

Chevron Texaco Corp. and Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens are among those who have contributed more than $500,000.

Despite the waves of donations from corporations and the wealthy, Schwarzenegger has said repeatedly that no special interest has a stranglehold on him.

Of course, no matter how many times he repeats it, some doubt Arnold's ability to maintain his purity as he goes yodeling for cash in the corporate canyons. Now it looks like both doubters and believers are about to get four more years to see if a very famous man was right when he described Sacramento as a place where “The money comes in, favors go out, the people lose.” Remember who said that– repeatedly— during the recall election? I'll give you a hint: he's a very special politician.

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