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NEWS RELEASE
Nov 17, 2003


CONTACT: Carmen Balber, 310-403-0284 or Jerry Flanagan, 415-497-1710

ArnoldWatch.org & Billboard Unveiled To Watch Hidden Hand Of Special Interests In Administration

Group to hold Governor accountable
Sacramento, CA -- The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) today launched www.ArnoldWatch.org to hold California's new governor accountable to his pledge to clean house of special interest control in Sacramento and to chart the influence of big business over his Administration.

To announce its new web site, the consumer group hired a 22-foot moving billboard to circle Arnold Schwarzenegger's inauguration, and a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored lunch that followed it, printed with Webster's definition of special interest. It reads, "n. a person or group seeking to influence legislative or government policy to further often narrowly defined interests; especially lobby."

Schwarzenegger has claimed that special interests include only labor unions and native American tribes, not large corporations and other business interests that have been his biggest boosters.

"This governor must recognize that big business is the ultimate special interest group and Californians elected him to protect the public interest, not large corporations," said Carmen Balber, a consumer advocate with FTCR. "ArnoldWatch.org will chronicle how this governor responds to the big business agenda of erasing all public safety regulation, litigation, and legislation."

Features on the consumer group's web site include a weblog, the $21,200 club, Fundraiser Watch, "Oops…I Appointed a Special Interest," a confidential tip line for special interest sightings, and policy watch items such as electricity deregulation, healthcare and political reform.

The first weblog points out that the Chamber of Commerce provided the inaugural lunch, Schwarzenegger's legislative secretary, and its only endorsement of a candidate for constitutional office in more than hundred years. It also charts other Schwarzengger big business appointments and policies.

Schwarzenegger said of special interests during his campaign, "I will go to Sacramento and I will clean house. ... I don't have to take money from anybody. I have plenty of money myself."

Though Schwarzenegger broke his pledge to not accept contributions, he continued to criticize the acceptance of contributions from powerful donors, saying, "Any of those kinds of real big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something."

Consumer advocates highlighted that the five biggest donors to Schwarzenegger's recall campaigns, aggregated by industry or special interest, are widely considered to be special interests and have a strong lobbying presence in Sacramento: financial companies, real estate and developers, agricultural interests, car dealers and the automotive industry, and construction interests.

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