Today California’s Democratic state lawmakers announced a budget plan to keep their paychecks coming that included one of the worst ideas Arnold Schwarzenegger had since impregnating his kids’ nanny.
If lawmakers don’t pass a budget today, they lose their pay tomorrow. So Assembly Democrats have included in their hastily-assembled budget plan Schwarzenegger’s political love child, selling off treasured state properties to a group of politically-connected investors.
Schwarzenegger tried to sell off 24 historic state buildings -- including the San Francisco Civic Center and the California Supreme Court – to his big campaign contributors. The Los Angeles Times reported the investors behind the so-called “California First” group contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Schwarzenegger’s political campaigns (Maria L. La Ganga, “$500,000 `Success Fee` Revealed In Proposed Sale of State Buildings, Los Angeles Times, December 7, 2010) The shady deal also included a half million dollar ‘finders fee’ to a local official.
Schwarzenegger’s fire sale was stopped in the courts by legendary attorney Joe Cotchett. My group Consumer Watchdog recently feted Cotchett at our Rage for Justice Awards for the lawsuit and his lifetime of legal achievement.
This short video from the dinner about Cotchett’s role and his acceptance speech of the Phillip Burton Lifetime Legal Achievement Award expose the corruption, stupidity and infidelity to the state’s constitution behind the ploy to sell off state buildings only to pay investors to lease them back.
So what gives with the Assembly Democrats’ plan? Is it just about passing any budget to get paid? Are the investors behind California First putting up more finder fees and political contributions?
Whatever the reason for this misstep, legislators should realize by now that following Schwarzenegger's lead is a recipe for disaster.