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Friday, Nov. 28, 2003 at 2:54 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who boasted during his campaign that he would not be beholden to special interests, has accepted a ,000 donation from a company operating a private prison in the state slated to be shut down.
The donation last week to the Republican, who has refused contributions from the state prison guards union, came from Florida-based Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, which operates a private prison in the Central Valley scheduled to be closed at the end of the year, a company spokesman said on Wednesday.
Besides the prison in McFarland housing 224 inmates, Wackenhut has three other private correctional institutions in the state.
A spokesman for the governor said that the donation from Wackenhut would have no bearing on the company's contract. "... Prison contracts such as this are handled as a routine matter of course by the Department of Corrections," said spokesman Vince Sollitto.
Wackenhut also donated ,000 to Schwarzenegger's recall campaign, said company spokesman Pablo Paez. He said the governor did not solicit the donations and may not have even known about them when they were made.
"We make contributions across the country to candidates and elected officials who are supportive of public-private partnerships," Paez said. "It is a nothing unusual."
The donations, first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, follow a recall campaign in which Schwarzenegger blasted his rivals for accepting special interest money. The film star said he would not need to do so because of his personal wealth.
Schwarzenegger also pointedly refused to accept donations from groups like the state's prison guards union -- a major contributor to former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis -- on grounds he would have to negotiate pay and other issues with them.
Last year Davis, who was ousted in October, canceled the contracts with three private prisons -- a move cheered by the union but opposed by facilities such as Wackenhut.
"I can go to (the state capital) Sacramento and just work for you because I don't owe anyone anything," Schwarzenegger said on the campaign trail. "I'm not beholden to anyone in Sacramento."
Even so, after racking up .2 million in loans during a costly recall campaign, Schwarzenegger has raised an estimated million dollars plus since then to help pay back the money.
Nov 26 2003 6:43PM
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