Governor's Campaign Reports Debt
Despite showing more than $2million owed, Schwarzenegger paid hefty bonuses to senior aides who moonlighted on his reelection bid.
SACRAMENTO ? Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger racked up more than
$2 million in campaign debt as he strode to victory in last
year's election, yet still paid large bonuses to senior
aides who moonlighted for his campaign while on the state
payroll, records show.
Campaign reports filed with the state Wednesday show that
the governor maintained his fund-raising lead over
Democratic opponent Phil Angelides through the end of the
2006 governor's race.
Schwarzenegger raised more than $4.3 million from late
October through year's end, compared to $1.7 million for
Angelides. But the governor also spent more freely,
finishing the year with nearly $2.4 million in debt,
compared to about $174,000 for Angelides.
For the year, Schwarzenegger's main reelection committee
took in more than $43.1 million; Angelides, about $20.2
"It's the intent of the [Schwarzenegger campaign] committee
to pay its debts in full," said Julie Soderlund, a
spokeswoman for the governor's political team.
The gap reflects the considerable overhead that sustains
After his victory on Nov. 7, and with his campaign facing a
debt, the governor paid $273,000 in bonuses to four of his
most trusted government aides who doubled as campaign
workers. The staff members said they performed the
political work on their own time, as state law
Schwarzenegger's campaign committee reported spending $22.2
million last year on television or cable air time and
production costs; $2.4 million on fundraising operations,
and $391,000 on polling.
A total of $3.6 million went to a battery of campaign
consultants. Steve Schmidt, the governor's campaign
manager, took in $375,000 over a 10-month span last
In some cases, the consultants gave the governor entree
into coveted ethnic and racial voting blocs.
In the three months before election day, the governor's
campaign paid $20,000 to an influential African American
clergyman, Amos Brown of the Third Baptist Church in San
Francisco. The governor courted Brown as part of a broader
effort to siphon black support from Angelides.
Schwarzenegger also paid $75,000 to a firm owned by Arnoldo
Torres, a Democrat, who helped him make inroads with Latino
voters ? a preoccupation of his campaign team.
Aides suggested that the governor won't have to struggle to
cover his campaign debt. Now that Schwarzenegger is
embarked on another four-year term, he can tap businesses
and other special interests whose fortunes depend on state
That has been his long-standing practice. Schwarzenegger's
Wednesday filings show that one of his committees received
$250,000 in October from Clean Energy of Seal Beach, a
leading provider of natural gas for truck, bus and car
fleets. The company stands to benefit from the governor's
push for alternative fuels.
In January, Schwarzenegger signed an executive order aimed
at boosting consumption of alternative transportation
fuels, such as natural gas. The order is aimed at cutting
carbon emissions linked to global warming.
Schwarzenegger's payment of bonuses to state aides is rare
among large-state governors. At the federal level,
executive branch employees are barred from receiving such
Under federal conflict of interest law, executive branch
employees face criminal penalties for taking money apart
from their government salaries.
In the U.S. Senate, something similar applies: Senators may
use their own money to provide extra pay, but can't use
campaign funds for that purpose, according to the Senate
"At the federal level, it's clear that the statutory
prohibition on supplementing an executive branch employee's
income is a safeguard to ensure that their primary and sole
responsibility is to those who pay them," said Meredith
McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center in
Washington, D.C. "When you allow special interests, through
their campaign contributions, to supplement the executive
branch employees' salary, you are opening the door to
"And that's not good public policy."
The four aides to get campaign bonuses were chief of staff
Susan Kennedy ($100,000); communications director Adam
Mendelsohn ($75,000); First Lady Maria Shriver's chief of
staff Daniel Zingale ($50,000); and gubernatorial personal
assistant Clay Russell ($48,000).
All were deserving, Soderlund said.
"They put in a tremendous amount of hours on the campaign
trail before and after work and on weekends, and they were
compensated for that time," Soderlund said.
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