This article, from yesterday's San Jose Mercury News, covers the "Governor's evolving rules on donors":
Schwarzenegger has laid out a still-evolving policy in which he rejects money from public-employee unions, Indian tribes, tobacco companies and advocacy groups he defines as special interests, but collects donations from insurance giants, oil companies and developers.
Schwarzenegger concedes that his decision to reject money from some groups but not others is confusing. But the bottom line, he says, is that he is not swayed by donations and that no one -- not friends like Dole Food Co. chairman David H. Murdock, developer Donald Bren or real estate mogul Alex Spanos -- has asked him for a favor.
``In the end I have to feel: Do I feel squeezed now by somebody? Is somebody trying to pay me here? Because everyone in principle knows that I can't be bought,'' said Schwarzenegger.
``You would assume from the stories that you hear that, you know, people pay you and they ask you for favors,'' said the governor. ``I've been sitting in with David Murdock at events and Donald Bren going skiing, or with Alex Spanos and those guys, no one yet has come to me and said `Hey, I need you to help me.' Nothing. Nothing.''
As Gray Davis's biggest fan (that's a 100% irony free statement), I'm no fan of the current Gov. But I'm almost willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this. Almost. At least in prinicple. The facts tend to weigh against his "hands-of" public attitude (with plumb jobs as advisors or star turns at ribbon cuttings, etc).
In general, though, can any elected official take contributions and remain truly free from influence? I'd like to try. You need money to run. Small donors are great - but corporations and interests frequently send checks unsolicited to everyone in a race, covering the field because eventually someone will win.
Can you really, as we used to do at conventions, "eat his food and vote for the other guy?"
I'd like to try someday. It be either a Sorkin-esque exercise in the American Representative Dream or the worlds fastest fizzling one-term wonderment. Give me all the cash you want, evil Tobacco companies, oil industry, and assorted other grandma killers. But I'm going to work against you. Short shelf-life? Probably. But, for shits and giggles, let's see if it works.