• Schwarzenegger raked in subprime lender campaign money Sunday, November 1, 2009

    SACRAMENTO–Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took far more campaign money than any state politician in the nation from lenders that were involved in the subprime lending industry between 2004 and 2008, a review by the nonpartisan National Institute of Money and State Politics shows.

    The campaign money—$2.03 million—flowed into Schwarzenegger’s reelection and ballot measure accounts between 2004 and 2008, with the bulk of it going to the propositions he offered and that voters rejected in the failed 2005 special election.

    The California governor’s haul represents 14% of $14.8 million in donations from subprime donors including Ameriquest, Countrywide and others that the National Institute on Money in State Politics identified as having flowed to state campaigns across the country during the years leading up to and including the mortgage crisis.

    ACC Capital and its subsidiary Ameriquest Mortgage Co. was by far Schwarzenegger’s largest donor, giving him and his ballot measure committees $1.1 million. Once a leading subprime lender, Ameriquest since has gone out of business, and Citigroup bought what was left.

    Other corporations involved in subprime mortgage lending that made five and six-figure donations to Schwarzenegger’s ballot measure committees include American International Group, Bank of America and Citigroup, or their subsidiaries. AIG, Bank of America and Citigroup each since received billions in federal bail-out.

    A separate review by ProtectConsumerJustice.org of California campaign finance reports shows that Schwarzenegger collected $2.9 from banks and others involved in the subprime industry. The review includes Schwarzenegger early campaigns, including a 2002 initiative he sponsored, the 2003 recall campaign he waged to capture the governor’s office, and donations he collected earlier in 2009.

    The industry contributed most of the money to his ballot measure campaigns, but also kicked in $308,000 to his election and reelection efforts, ProtectConsumerJustice.org found.

    By comparison, former New York Gov. George Pataki collected $164,000 from subprime lenders, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry collected $159,500 between 2004 and 2008, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonprofit corporation in Helena, Mont.

    Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear cited numerous bills that the governor has signed to try to curb abuses, and efforts by the California Department of Corporations to help homeowners modify their loans.

    “The governor led the effort to get lenders to agree to loan modifications and has signed dozens of bills to help with the state’s foreclosure crisis,” McLear said in a statement. “The governor always makes decisions based on what’s best for Californians.”

    For more on banking and subprime industries efforts in California, please see our Special Report.

    –Dan Morain

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