A governor whose word is his junk bond

So our new governor, having promised an investigation of his own groping activities in order to avoid answering any questions during the campaign — an investigation that would obviously be entirely worthless — has now decided that such an investigation would be entirely worthless, so he’s dropping the idea. And his spokesgeek insists that the voters, by voting for Schwarzenegger after he promised an investigation, were recording a judgment that there was nothing to investigate.

What I hate most about all this is that none of the folks who endorsed Schwarzenegger and denounced the LA Times for publishing stories that it’s obvious Schwarzenegger doesn’t think he can get any reputable investigator to say weren’t accurate will even have the good grace to blush.

Will someone please explain to me, slowly and carefully, why we’re supposed to be “civil” about this sort of shamelessness? The Governor of California is a serial sexual batterer whose word isn’t worth the spit behind it. That’s not partisan ranting; that’s just a simple statement of fact.

Thanks to Kevin Drum for the pointer to this LA Times story.

By Peter Nicholas and Joe Mathews, Times Staff Writers

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is dropping a plan to hire a private investigator to examine allegations that he groped at least 16 women over the last three decades, a spokesman said Monday.

The governor is busy with the state’s budget crisis and doubts that such an inquiry would appease critics, said Rob Stutzman, communications director for Schwarzenegger. Because of that, he has decided not to look into the charges himself — as he promised to do in the final days of the recall campaign — Stutzman said.

“The governor, in talking with counsel and advisors, concluded that there was very little point to the investigation,” Stutzman said in an interview.

“The issue has become quite too political. He has apologized and continues to be sincerely sorry for anyone he has offended, but also thinks the time has come to move on.

“There’s a lot of important work to do here. That’s what he’s completely focused on. He’s doing the work as governor that the people have sent him here to do.”

The decision became public the same day one of the women who had accused Schwarzenegger of groping her sued him and his campaign for libel.

The libel suit involves an e-mail that Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman Sean Walsh sent to reporters after the woman made her allegations. The e-mail advised reporters to type the woman’s name into a court Web site. Doing so produced a report on a lengthy criminal record, which was reported by some news organizations as belonging to Schwarzenegger’s accuser.

The criminal record, however, did not belong to the woman who made those allegations but to others who had the same name but not her birth date.

As the suit indicates, at least some of Schwarzenegger’s accusers seem unlikely to let the question of his conduct disappear from public view. The professed motive behind Schwarzenegger’s announcement last month that he was negotiating with a private firm to investigate the allegations was to settle such public questions.

The Nov. 6 announcement came shortly before the new governor was sworn in. In a conference call with reporters, Stutzman had said that Schwar- zenegger was negotiating with an unspecified private firm that would plumb allegations that he had improperly touched or humiliated women.

That disclosure followed a news conference at which state Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer said that he had encouraged Schwarzenegger to address the allegations in the belief that “they are not going to go away.” Lockyer later called for setting up a toll-free number for alleged victims to lodge complaints.

Nathan Barankin, a spokesman for the attorney general, said Monday that Lockyer would have no comment on the governor’s decision.

The issue had its roots in an interview Schwarzenegger had given two days before the election to NBC-TV’s Tom Brokaw. In that interview, he said he would look into the allegations against him once the campaign ended. He did not specify at the time how he would do so.

Retaining a private investigator was Schwarzenegger’s solution. But the plan received widespread criticism and some degree of ridicule.

Some of the women who had accused Schwarzenegger questioned whether an investigation underwritten by the governor would be truly independent. Late-night comics lampooned the idea as a “search for the real gropers.”

Stutzman countered at the time that the “impeccable reputation” of the firm being retained would allay such qualms. But questions lingered.

Asked Monday whether in hindsight the idea of considering a private investigator still seemed like a good one, Stutzman said, “We spend our time looking forward, not backward.”

While conceding that he had behaved poorly at times and offering a general apology, the governor has not commented on the specific allegations against him. He has dismissed the allegations as a whole — several of which were published in The Times in articles during the final week of the campaign — as the product of poor journalism and campaign machinations.

His aide stuck to that theme Monday.

“We continue to believe that much of this was politically motivated,” Stutzman said. “We continue to believe much of it was the product of questionable journalism. But the results of the election spoke loudly to this issue. And he’s moving on in focusing on being governor.”

Even some of Schwarzenegger’s critics said the governor was right to drop the notion of investigating himself.

Tom del Beccaro, chairman of the Republican Central Committee in Contra Costa County, had been among a small group of conservatives who had criticized Schwarzenegger during the campaign for his off-color statements and behavior.

Of the governor’s decision not to self-investigate, del Beccaro, who is a lawyer, said, “I have to agree with him. If such an investigation is really necessary, in order for it to be credible, it would have to be done by an independent person or body.”

Karen Pomer, a rape survivor who leads a group called the Rainbow Sisters Project and who organized demonstrations against Schwarzenegger during the campaign, said, “I think it was ludicrous that he needed to investigate himself. He knows what he’s done.

“There needs to be an independent investigation,” said Pomer, who has championed several of the women who have come forward. “This issue is not going to go away. It’s certainly not being dropped by the women who have come forward.”

Carol Norris, a Bay Area organizer for Code Pink, a women’s political group that protested Schwarzenegger’s alleged conduct, said that Schwarzenegger should not investigate himself but needs to meet with the group and tackle women’s issues.

“It’s very disheartening that he’s not taking this seriously and turning and saying, ‘I have to do these important things,’ ” she said.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

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