Affair of State

*Governor's inaugural ball underwritten by special interests


GOV. Arnold Schwarzenegger's second inaugural bash spans two days beginning Friday, with several events to celebrate the governor's re-election including a black tie gala.

Among the performers to serenade the celebrity governor and a few thousand attendees at the various events are Jose Feliciano, Jennifer Holloway, Paul Anka and Donna Summer.

The guest list includes everyone who's anyone in state and national politics, from both sides of the aisle.

It's a snazzy shindig for California's elite, and it surely isn't free. To pay for all the celebrating, Schwarzenegger's crew has raised about $1.4 million from the usual power brokers and influence peddlers.

While it's only fitting that California's gubernatorial galas be events to remember, it's a sobering reminder that money is the real driver of politics.

New year or not, the influence of big money permeates every aspect of Sacramento, just as it does in Washington and Los Angeles.

Despite the assurances that all those donating money are doing so because they think Arnold's just a heck of a guy, the truth is no one spends $50,000 without expecting something in return. It's just business.

The companies, such as Chevron Products Co., Adams Steel, E&J Gallo Winery and Raley Supermarkets; the advocacy groups such as the California Chamber of Commerce, California Real Estate Political Action Committee and California Grocers Association that are helping throw the party, surely will get access to the governor that the regular folks can never expect.

Take the word of his staff that the wealthy governor won't be swayed by the largess of the fiesta funders. After all, as he's fond of saying, he's got too much money to be bought.

We hope so, because the various special interests have historically kept the state from solving its growing problems.

But 2007 is a year where much needs to be done in Sacramento, from redistricting reform to prison reform to creating better access to health care for all. And no matter how much fun the party is, the governor can't afford to put the monied interests before the public.

See the article on Los Angeles Daily News website

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