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2 Front-Runners Spending Millions on Radio, TV Ads

Schwarzenegger wages a platinum campaign with private jets and a huge staff. A court order forces Bustamante to rejuggle his finances.

September 27, 2003|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — How exactly does Arnold Schwarzenegger spend all that money?

As he strives to portray himself as more fiscally conservative than state Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks), the actor turned gubernatorial candidate is waging a platinum campaign, having spent $13.4 million since entering the recall race.

Schwarzenegger has been renting executive jets, putting on fund-raisers at an exclusive country club, employing a campaign staff that dwarfs all others and shelling out millions in an effort to dominate television airwaves.

At the same time, Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who supports raising "sin" taxes and levies on wealthy Californians, has filed campaign reports with the state that reflect his innovative interpretation of campaign finance rules -- and had to rejuggle his money after a judge declared that he had broken the law.

On Friday, the judge sharpened his ruling, directing Bustamante to take action immediately.

A picture of how the two front-runners are spending their considerable campaign funds emerges from statements they released Thursday, the final reports detailing expenditures until after the Oct. 7 election.

Both candidates are spending by far their largest sums on television time. Schwarzenegger poured $5.4 million into television air time -- 10 times as much as McClintock spent for radio and television combined. Bustamante spent about $4.5 million.

Consultants who produce the spots take their cuts -- traditionally 15% of the ad buys -- although their share in the recall campaign has not been listed separately in the campaign finance statements.

Bustamante's report shows that he has paid $125,000 to his chief consultant, Richie Ross, and Ross' son and daughter, who are in the family consulting business. Bustamante also gave $170,000 to the United Farm Workers to help turn out voters in Los Angeles and the Central Valley. Bustamante campaign strategist Ross doubles as a lobbyist for the farm workers' organization.

"Obviously, if he calls, we pick up the phone," said Giev Kashkooli, the UFW's political director, adding that volunteers will be trying to get 150,000 people to the polls Oct. 7. "But we've done campaign work for lots of Democrats."

While Bustamante retains the Ross family, Schwarzenegger reported paying no fewer than 80 campaign workers in the four-week period ending last Saturday -- the period covered by the filings. Many of those workers were aides to former Gov. Pete Wilson.

Schwarzenegger paid $50,000 each, plus expenses, to campaign aides Bob White, who was Wilson's chief of staff; and Marty Wilson, who was one of Wilson's top political aides. Both are consultants in Sacramento.

For a short while, Schwarzenegger even hired Jeff C. Evans, a Sacramento-area consultant, paying him about $10,000 to design some campaign literature. Evans has since gone to work for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, producing and placing $2.5 million worth of television ads in an independent campaign touting McClintock's candidacy.

Several other former Wilson aides also are paid workers for Schwarzenegger, including Don Sipple, who is producing Schwarzenegger's ads; and Sean Walsh, who was Wilson's press secretary and is one of Schwarzenegger's spokesmen.

McClintock has fewer than 20 campaign workers. Until moving to somewhat larger quarters three weeks ago, campaign manager John Feliz had to lock his door to keep aides from barging in to get sodas from the refrigerator.

Schwarzenegger appears to be partial to Sherwood Country Club, a high-end golf course in the Santa Monica Mountains developed by David Murdock, another Schwarzenegger donor. Schwarzenegger reported paying $21,000 for fund-raising events at the country club.

He also travels in style. He paid at least $188,104 to Executive Jet Management to fly him to Carlsbad, Chicago, Fresno, Lancaster, Palm Springs and Sacramento. Executive Jet is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the investment vehicle of one for Schwarzenegger's unpaid advisors, Warren E. Buffett.

Walsh said Schwarzenegger had attracted "some of the finest" political consultants and advisors in the country. And he explained Schwarzenegger's use of private jets by saying, "There are many demands on our schedule, and we clearly need to maximize our time and efficiency."

Bustamante flies Southwest, as does McClintock, although he did report one payment of $3,600 to a charter air company in Lincoln, Calif.

That's not to say that Bustamante doesn't enjoy some of the finer things in life.

His campaign reported nearly $5,000 in meals at restaurants ranging from Esquire Bar and Grill and City Treasure in Sacramento to the Viejas Turf Club at the casino owned by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians in San Diego County. Viejas has spent $2 million to help Bustamante.

Bustamante has raised about $9.4 million this year; the exact amount is difficult to ascertain.

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