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Money Monkey on His Back

May 05, 2003

With opponents pushing for an election to recall him from office, Gov. Gray Davis has resumed campaign fund-raising, an effort that has mired him in controversy for years.

The Los Angeles Times, May 1


Is it my turn? OK. Hello. My name is Gray, and I'm a fundraise-aholic.

There, I said it.

I used to think I could quit any time. And I did after my November reelection. Six months without a drop in the campaign bucket.

Not that I thought fund-raising 24/7 was a problem at the time, no. But there was talk. OK, criticism of the $78 million I raised to get reelected, of the time I spent kissing up for casino cash, palling around with prison guards and tickling the teachers unions while ambulances gridlocked outside emergency rooms and schoolkids did without books.

So I promised my handlers I'd lay off until we got the state budget under control. And then I'd hold myself to $2.5 million a year. Chump change. After all, now that term limits have kicked in, I can't run again anyway.

Then this recall thing came up. My approval ratings are in the basement and the Republicans think I'm vulnerable. So what if they need 797,158 more signatures to get on the ballot. My demons were hissing: "Be ready!"

It was back to dialing for dollars, begging for bucks, palming for pennies. Playing golf and promising pork to any person with enough green bills to buy a greens pass. I felt alive again, making out like a Mafia don at his daughter's wedding when I should have been finding $35 billion to close the budget gap.

Raising money -- for myself, anyway -- is one thing I am good at. Not just good. Spectacular.

I know, I know, it's illogical. The recall drive was sparked by disgust at my inability to shake hands without shaking someone down, to make decisions based on the state's needs and not a donor's. Others tried to tell me. I wouldn't listen. I wouldn't believe there was a higher authority, and I don't mean the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

I thought I could control my disease. But it's clear to see that it controls me. Or did until today. I give up. I give in. With your help -- say, some of your faces out there look awfully familiar....

As I was saying, with your help, I can change. I can change. I can -- anybody got any change?

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