Rob Reiner’s preschool deception…
[Ray Haynes] 3/5/06
Do you remember
Chuck Quackenbush? He was the insurance commissioner who lost
his job because he used fines that he collected from insurance companies
to buy television commercials to promote his political career. It was a
huge scandal at the time, and Quackenbush, who was a colleague of mine
in the Assembly, left his job in disgrace, having been run out of office
by Legislative Democrats for abusing state money.
boondoggle is brewing, only this time Legislative Democrats
are strangely silent.
Haynes is an Assembly member representing Riverside
and Temecula. He serves on the Appropriations and
Budget Committees. [go to Assembly Member Haynes website
at California Assembly][go to Haynes index]
A few years
ago, Rob Reiner (“Meathead” from the
old television series, “All in the Family”) sponsored
an initiative to create a children’s health commission,
funded by a fifty cent per-pack tax on cigarettes. This commission,
called “First 5 California Children and Family Commission,” was
intended to administer the money collected from this tax, and
spend it on local health initiatives and early childhood development
programs for children. The initiative has generated over $4 billion
since it went into effect.
This year, Reiner is sponsoring an initiative to create mandatory
preschool for all children, and proposes a one percent tax increase
on rich people to pay for this program. Reiner is also the chair
of the First 5 Commission.
Now the Commission is spending the money it
collects through taxes on cigarettes to promote the Reiner
The commission has spent $23 million of your tax dollars on commercials
for “Preschool for All” (which also happens to be
the name of his initiative) in one of the largest state funded
advertising programs ever. It has also spent $230 million on
advertising and public relations firms that helped Reiner create
the First 5 Commission, and it paid $206,000 of that tax money
to three political consultants who had no contract with the state,
but who became the campaign consultants for the preschool initiative.
Reiner’s lawyer said the ads were “entirely legal
and proper” because they do not expressly urge people to
vote for or against the initiative.
You and I are paying for political consultants,
television ads, and public relations operations that all promote
program. They argue that since they don’t really say you
should vote for such a program, this tax money was spent legally.
That is dangerous. As further evidence of this commission’s
intent to aid the initiative, the public relations firm that
did the proposal for the ads said that “while the [commission]
should not advocate on behalf of the initiative” the goals
of the “Preschool for All” program would have to
be achieved through legislative or electoral action.
This is political spin for “We want to
spend the tax money on our political operation; we just want
to fool people
into thinking it is legal.”
So where are the cries of outrage? Quackenbush was wrong. Reiner
is wrong. Reiner, as chair of the Commission, has specifically
pushed the state to pay for his political campaign. He should
lose his job, and reimburse the state for the $253 million he
spent to push his boondoggle on the people of the state of California.
If this were a Republican initiative, the howls of protest
would echo throughout the state. However, since this is a tax
increase, and an attempt to create a whole bunch of new government
jobs (with the forced union dues that come along with those jobs),
the lefties in Sacramento have fallen silent.
The only way to stop this kind of boondoggle
is to register your displeasure at the ballot box. I hope you
will show up at
the polls, and tell Mr. Reiner exactly what you think of his
attempt to deceive you with your tax dollars. And since I didn’t
expressly advocate a vote for or against the initiative, this
commentary is legal.
So there Mr. Reiner. -CRO-
Haynes is a California Assembleyman representing Riverside
and Temecula and frequent contributor to CaliforniaRepublic.org.