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Arnold takes pass on showbiz funding

Schwarzenegger campaign has raised $3.2 mil

As the candidates for California governor make their mad dashes for campaign cash, Arnold Schwarzenegger has backed away from previous statements he would not seek outside funds and has set ambitious fundraising goals.

So far, Schwarzenegger has worked mainstream Republican coffers, in a strategy that reflects his anxiety not to be stigmatized as a creature of Hollywood.

Of the candidates to replace Gov. Gray Davis in the recall effort, the Schwarzenegger campaign has the largest war chest, having raised $3.2 million as of Tuesday. While most of that sum came from the actor — he has given his campaign $2 million — the candidate is aggressively pursuing funds from outside donors.

Schwarzenegger’s tax return shows he made $26.1 million in 2001, likely enabling him to bankroll his entire campaign. But he has told prospective donors he plans to cap his personal spending at $5 million. The actor has said his advisers expect his campaign to cost $20 million, meaning he is looking to raise $15 million for the Oct. 7 election.

By comparison, Davis has said he will spend $15 million to defeat the recall, and has so far raised $2.3 million. Republican candidate Peter Ueberroth has said he will spend $10 million on his campaign. He has so far raised $2.4 million, which includes $1 million of his own money.

On Aug. 15, Schwarzenegger, flanked by former Gov. Pete Wilson, met with about two dozen prospective donors over breakfast at the Regency Club, making a pitch for campaign contributions.

The event was organized by Alice Borden, a fundraising consultant known for working with moderate Republicans, including former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan. Schwarzenegger reported receiving $158,400 from the event, not counting $1 million in personal funds he deposited and a $21,200 donation — the maximum allowed by law — from his wife, Maria Shriver. Others who gave the maximum were attorney David Fleming, one of the leaders of last year’s San Fernando Valley secession drive, L.A. real estate developer Gerald Katell, Katherine Alden, a proprietor of Woodside Hotels & Resorts as well as a board member of conservative think tank Pacific Research Institute and Elizabeth Lowe, an community activist who serves on the commission overseeing Los Angeles’ First 5 children’s programs.

Passing plates

The pledge to limit spending his own money distinguishes Schwarzenegger from other wealthy candidates who have drawn heavily from their personal funds to finance their political ambitions. Michael Huffington spent $28 million on his failed U.S. Senate bid in 1994; Michael Bloomberg spent $69 million in his campaign to become mayor of New York.

Most of Schwarzenegger’s money so far has come from the business community, which has keyed on his campaign vow to make California an easier place in which to do business. Among his donors are Donald Bren, a billionaire Orange County developer and prominent Republican donor; Tim Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist; and investment guru Warren Buffett, who is advising the candidate on economic policy.

Notably absent from Schwarzenegger’s campaign filings are the friends he’s made during his career in Hollywood. The sole entertainment industry contribution he’s logged is $20,000 from attorney Jacob Bloom, who represents Schwarzenegger in his acting career.

Hanretty denied Schwarzenegger is avoiding Hollywood donors. “I fully anticipate that the entertainment industry will be participating in the campaign,” she said.

But Schwarzenegger has already backpedaled from Hollywood support. Shortly after his campaign had announced actor Rob Lowe would be one of his coordinators organizing support and fund raising in the entertainment community, Schwarzenegger toned down the pronouncement, calling him a “very good friend” at a press conference.

And Schwarzenegger’s agent, Bryan Lourd of CAA, had to disavow the Schwarzenegger campaign’s inclusion of him as an economic adviser and the candidate’s claims the agency would be organizing support for his campaign.

Some in the movie business chalk up the lack of visible support for Schwarzenegger to the time of year — many folks in Hollywood are on vacation in August — as well as a potential mismatch between Schwarzenegger’s Republican brand of politics and the Democratic leanings of the friends he’s made during his acting career.

Next month, Schwarzenegger’s quest for campaign contributions will take him to Lancaster, where he will attend a $250-a-head fund-raiser at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. Frank Visco, former chairman of the state Republican party, is organizing the event and said he had sold 1,200 of the 1,500 available tickets. A sellout would net Schwarzenegger $375,000.

The actor’s determined fund raising is something of a surprise. Schwarzenegger initially said he would not be taking outside coin. Announcing his run for governor on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” Schwarzenegger told a national audience, “As you know, I don’t need to take any money from anybody. I have plenty of money myself. I will make the decisions for the people.”

Campaign spokesperson Karen Hanretty said Schwarzenegger has pledged only to not take money from “special interest groups.”

Speaking with radio host Eric Hogue on KTKZ Sacramento, Schwarzenegger promised not to take coin from unions or American Indian groups with casino interests. “I think that any of these kinds of groups — big powerful special interests — if you take money from them, you owe them something.”

Of the donations Schwarzenegger has received, the campaign spokesperson said, “It is done with the understanding that when he goes to Sacramento, there are no strings attached.”

Huffington’s take

Though she’s raised less than a 10th as much as Schwarzenegger, pundit-turned-candidate Arianna Huffington has proven more adept at attracting financial support from the entertainment industry.

Among the donors, who have contributed a total of $218,000 to her campaign, are “Seinfeld” creator Larry David and wife Laurie; Endeavor head Ari Emanuel; MTV Networks chair Tom Freston; helmer Ed Zwick and scribe Marshall Herskovitz; Warner Bros. prexy Alan Horn and his wife Cynthia Harrell-Horn; manager Bernie Brillstein; William Morris prexy Jim Wiatt and Barbra Streisand.

Huffington donors said they gave to her campaign because of personal friendship. Brillstein said: “She’s an old friend of mine. She called me on the phone and I sent a check.”

Wiatt emphasized, “I am adamantly, 100% opposed to the recall,” but he added, “Arianna is a friend of my wife and I, and she’s involved in some of the same environmental causes we support. We hope that she will bring attention to some of these environmental issues.”

Said Huffington spokesman Parker Blackman: “They both have a lot of friends in Hollywood. The difference is where they’re putting their energies. Arianna is focusing her energy on her friends and small contributors from the Internet.”