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Schwarzenegger has a special interest in Capitol-area money

In 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigned for governor as an outsider that
wouldn’t be beholden to special interests. But three years later, as the
now-incumbent governor runs for re-election, Schwarzenegger has raised more
money from Sacramento’s downtown ZIP code–better known as special-interest
central–than any other ZIP code in the state.

All told, the residents and business interests in the Capitol’s 95814 have
chipped in $689,527 to Schwarzenegger’s bid for re-election. That’s $130,000
more than the next highest ZIP, in posh Newport Beach, and more than
$400,000 more than the governor’s third biggest donating postal code in Los
Angeles, according to a Capitol Weekly analysis of public records.

Downtown Sacramento has heaped money at the Democrats running for governor
as well. The 95814 is the single largest contributing ZIP code to state
Treasurer Phil Angelides, and for state Controller Steve Westly it ranked
fourth.

“There are very few real people who live in 95814, legislative staffers and
journalists excepted,” said Doug Heller, a spokesman for the Foundation for
Taxpayers and Consumer Rights. “95814 is the home address of California
special interests.”

In fact, Schwarzenegger’s Downtown Sacramento donors include many of the
state’s leading political players, like the California Restaurant
Association ($26,000), Exxon Mobil ($10,000), AT&T ($35,000) and the
California Building Industry Association ($44,600).

Each of those groups has major interests pending before state government.

The restaurant association has been one of the Capitol’s most outspoken
opponents of raising the minimum wage–which Schwarzenegger has vetoed the
last two years. The state energy commission, at Schwarzenegger’s request, is
investigating energy companies like Exxon Mobil for possible price gouging.

AT&T is advocating for a bill to open the state’s cable industry to
telecommunications companies, a measure that is likely to land on the
governor’s desk later this year. And the building industry association
lobbied heavily to help shape this year’s Schwarzenegger-backed $37 billion
bond package.

Schwarzenegger campaign spokeswoman Julie Soderlund defended the downtown
donors as only some of Schwarzenegger’s many supporters.

“The governor is supported by a diverse group of individuals, including more
than 13,000 people who have given financially to ensure Californians in
every corner of the state hear his message for moving California forward,”
said Soderlund, noting that the average contribution to the governor was
less than $700.

But Heller, whose organization operates Arnoldwatch.org, a Web site that
tracks political donations to Schwarzenegger, said the 95814 donations are
symptomatic of California’s political system, where
politicians are dependent on special interests for campaign cash.

“Politicians in California get elected on promises of independence, which
fall away as soon as they move into 95814,” said Heller. “They get hooked up
to the IV which is Sacramento lobbying cash and they cannot stand up to the
potent drug.”

Schwarzenegger is certainly not the only candidate hauling in big bucks from
Sacramento.

The 95814 area is Phil Angelides’ single biggest contributing ZIP, with more
than $1 million in giving. For Steve Westly, it ranked fourth, giving
$239,285.

Beyond the confines of the Capitol region, the entire city of Sacramento
ranks second in political largesse given to Schwarzenegger, with $935,077,
after California’s largest city, Los Angeles, whose residents gave more than
$1.8 million.

Schwarzenegger, and both leading Democrats in the governor’s race, have
leaned heavily on affluent areas of the state for campaign cash.

Newport Beach’s swanky 92660, which is sandwiched between the ocean and
several country clubs, is Schwarzenegger’s number two ZIP code, followed by
three upscale Los Angeles neighborhoods and the Pacific Palisades, another
affluent coastal township.

Perhaps California’s best known ZIP code–Beverly Hills 90210, of teen
melodrama television fame–ranks ninth among all Schwarzenegger-giving ZIP
codes, with $186,000 in contributions. The area, known for the wealth of its
residents, gave nearly as much to Angelides–and ranked as the No. 1 ZIP code
for Westly that wasn’t home to his back right pocket.

Sometimes a single family can propel a ZIP code to the top of the rankings.
In Eureka’s 95501, the Arkley family skirted voter-approved donations limits
by donating $178,400 in a single day–in the name of four separate family
members, including a high-school student, who gave $44,600 each–enough to
propel the ZIP code into the governor’s top 10.

Rounding out Schwarzenegger’ top 10 donor cities are California’s major
population centers like L.A., San Francisco ($778,050) and San Diego
($553,467). But the list also reflects the governor’s right-leaning ideology
with conservative strongholds like Riverside ($250,800) and Fresno
($241,529), making the list.

Neither Fresno nor Riverside is a top donor town for Democrats Angelides and
Westly.

None of Schwarzenegger’s top 10 donor ZIP codes are from outside California.
But two of his top 10 contributing cities, New York ($488,594) and Dallas
($340,500), which rank sixth and seventh, respectively, are out of state.
The New York sum includes the maximum $44,600 contribution from fellow
moderate Republican Michael Bloomberg, the city’s mayor.

Overall, Schwarzenegger’s re-election account has taken in contributions
from 37 states, ranging from Hawaii to Georgia, and the District of
Columbia. Californians have contributed the vast majority of
Schwarzenegger’s funds, with more than $15 million in donations out of the
$18 million raised. Texas is the Schwarzenegger’s second biggest donor
state, with residents and businesses in the Lone Star state chipping in
$611,000.

Schwarzenegger has raised more than $18 million over the last three years in
his re-election account, and had $9.7 million cash-on-hand, as of the latest
filings with the secretary of state.

Schwarzenegger advisers have set of a fund-raising goal of $60 to $75
million this year.


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