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Democrats give money to slate mailer that calls for passage of three Schwarzenegger initiatives

With the special election less than a week away, campaigns are using every
available tactic to lure potential voters to the polls. For the No on 77
campaign, that includes bankrolling a direct mail piece sent to Republicans
urging a “yes” vote on three-quarters of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s special
election initiatives.

The mail piece, which was enclosed in an official-looking envelope with the
words “JURY DUTY IS GOOD CITIZENSHIP” printed on the outside, urges
Republicans to “Support Arnold’s Reform Agenda, but Vote No on 77,” which is
the governor’s redistricting initiative.

“They are just trying to trick Republicans into thinking some
Republican-oriented group is supporting all of the governor’s initiatives,”
said Steve Poizner, who is heading up the efforts to pass Proposition 77.

A slate-mailer group called the Citizens for Good Government, which has
received $610,000 from the No on 77 committee and only $50,000 other groups,
according to the latest filings with the secretary of state, produced the
piece.

Tom Kaptain, whose group created the mailer, claims that every initiative
campaign contributed to the mailer, though current state records only
identify two committees contributing.

“We are a committee for No on 77 and our main concern is defeating
Proposition 77,” said Stephanie Williamson, a spokeswoman for the No on 77
campaign. “We are trying to exercise the most effective means to doing
that.”

Does that mean a Democrat-funded committee is willing to subsidize a mailer
urging Republicans to vote yes on Propositions 74, 75 and 76?
“I wouldn’t say we paid for it. I would say we bought on to that slate,”
said Williamson.

The lion’s share of the No on 77 committee’s money came from Hollywood
producers and Democratic mega-donors Stephen Bing ($4.25 million) and Haim
Saban ($100,000). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, has
herself donated $25,000 the committee, and helped corral donations from many
of her congressional Democratic colleagues.

But nowhere on the mailer does Bing’s name, or any of the Democratic donors
funding the piece, appear because the mailer was sent through an independent
slate mailer committee.

“Congressional Democrats are using clever techniques like going through
slate houses to obscure who sent the mail,” says Poizner. “There is no way
they would send mail to Republicans if they had to disclose who paid for
it.”

The focus of the mailer is clearly advocating a “no” vote on Proposition 77.

“Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Reform Agenda will bring a breath of fresh
air to Sacramento,” says the mailer. “Arnold deserves our thanks and
gratitude. But Republicans should fear 3 randomly selected volunteer retired
judges (with political prejudices) having all the power. No on Proposition
77!!”

The piece goes on to quote Rep. John Doolittle, the only California
Republican congressman to openly oppose the initiative, and a Republican
State Senate caucus briefing book.

According to Kaptain, the choice to include the No on 77 side in the slate
mailing was strictly a business decision.

“The people who are running the Yes on 77 campaign, they have purchased
space on my slate in the past,” said Kaptain. “By the time the Yes on 77
campaign said they were interested I was already committed on that measure.”
Poizner says such “business” decisions show Kaptain to be “a mercenary
willing to sell any position on any issue to the highest bidder.”

“I find that whole part of the campaign industry distasteful,” he said.

The more than $600,000 the No on 77 committee spent on the Citizens for Good
Government mailers is the organization’s second largest expenditure, after a
$2.25 million television ad buy. That ad features Judge Wapner, a former Los
Angeles Superior Court judge better known as the man with the gavel in
television show “The People’s Court,” urging voters to oppose Proposition
77.

As for the controversial jury duty summons theme on the mailer’s envelope,
Kaptain says, “That’s been done for years, going back to the 1940s as a way
to get people to take a look inside the envelope. There is nothing immoral
or illegal about doing that.”

Kaptain says his direct mail organization, still has three more slate
mailers to mail out.

“Shouldn’t people who got that mailer understand who is paying for that
piece?” asked Steve Poizner, who is heading up the governor’s effort to pass
Proposition 77. “Voters have a right to know who is paying for propaganda
like that.”


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