By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
And for such a capable political figure, Davis has time and again been blinded to the obvious appearance of conflicts of interest. There were the two former top Clinton-Gore advisers he installed in the Governor's Office as his communications directors -- who also worked at the same time for the state bailoutÂseeking Southern California Edison. One of them foolishly told the Weekly, "There is no conflict of interest. The governor and Edison have the same energy policy." Davis belatedly got rid of them shortly thereafter.
There was the Pete WilsonÂappointed Energy Commission chairman, reappointed by Davis, who had presided over a preposterous forecast of the impact of energy deregulation and turned out to be an investor in companies regulated by the commission. There are many other examples.
What would it take for the Oracle scandal to bring down Gray Davis? Probably
evidence that he was aware that there were problems with the deal and pushed it forward anyway. And that he was influenced in this by Oracle's campaign contribution. The absurd contract finally gives Davis' Republican opponent, Bill Simon, something to talk about in a campaign that so far has failed to sound themes that resonate with voters.
The $25,000 is a large contribution. However, Davis has raised an astonishing $43.6 million for his re-election -- much of it in chunks far larger than $25,000 -- and this is Oracle's only contribution to him in at least five years. The firm's support amounts to only 0.05 percent of the governor's war chest. Nor has Oracle taken the predictable dodge of contributing to the state Democratic Party, at least not during the Davis governorship.
WITH DAVIS AND THE CALIFORNIA press -- though not The Wall Street Journal -- distracted by the Oracle debacle, a much larger issue is working its way to the governor's desk.
Assemblywoman Pavley's global-warming bill passed the state Senate last week, personally ramrodded through by Senate President John Burton with a big assist from L.A. Senator Sheila Kuehl. The bill passed on a party-line 22-13 vote. Now the bill goes back to the Assembly for concurrence with amendments.
Davis, who expressed misgivings about the bill with the Weekly in March, is still neutral. Backers hope to move it through the process to him in the next week, meaning the already intense lobbying around the governor will further intensify. But Burton is adamant that the bill become law. Unless the automobile lobby succeeds in manipulating the Assembly process, the bill, already amended to give the car companies more time to retool their production lines, makes 2009 the first year its vehicles must dramatically cut their emissions of carbon dioxide.
Will Davis want to oppose such a bill? It would not seem wise, especially since he already previously endorsed its basic provisions when he supported the Big Green initiative in 1990.