After unseating Gray Davis for
his pay-to-play politics, Arnold has accepted an above-the-limits
contribution from a company that is the capitol's foremost practitioner
of pay-to-play: Mercury Insurance. Although the recall campaign ended
on October 7th, Mercury contributed $38,800 on December 17th to "Arnold
Schwarzenegger's Total Recall Committee, Vote Yes To Recall Gray
Davis." Mercury gave to Arnold's pro-recall committee because it is not
subject to the normal $21,200 limit. The contribution was made on the
dayof the Gov's capital fundraiser at the Sheraton Grand but Mercury
was the only donor that day to contribute to the no-limits committee.
Mercury played the no-limits game with the recalled governor as well.
On August 2nd, Gray Davis signed a bill that allows insurers to
surcharge motorists who were previously uninsured, despite vetoing an
identical measure the year before as an illegal violation of
voter-approved Proposition 103. Then, in September, Davis received
$175,000 from Mercury to defeat the recall. Davis' about-face prompted
our Foundation to ask the Justice Department for a bribery
investigation in light of a memo from Mercury's lobbyist suggesting a
deal with Davis to flip-flop.
A recent declaration by Mercury's lobbyist reveals that Gray Davis
actually consulted Mercury about the content of his announcement that
he was signing the bill -- before it was made public. This gives new
meaning to the phrase "money talks." That declaration can be read at: www.consumerwatchdog.org/insurance/rp/rp003923.pdf
What does Mercury want from Schwarzenegger? Having seen all the money
going into Arnold's campaign, Mercury must assume that it is business
as usual in Sacramento and Schwarzenegger's signature on the insurer's
agenda is up for auction. Californians elected Schwarzenegger to be
above all that. Arnold should return Mercury's cash to send the signal
that the governor's office is not for sale to an insurer who refuses to
let the voters have the last word.