Monday, October 24, 2005

Is the budget for Shriver's public appearances a legitimate state expense?

I read an article this morning that covers the expense of keeping the first lady of California, Maria Schriver, in speaking opportunities - roughly $500,000 per year. This is reportedly some $100,000 (60 - 180,000 is reported) more than the similar item for the previous first lady.

The defense for this growth in expense?

"To compare Maria Shriver with Sharon Davis," Carbaugh said, is like comparing "Madonna to Jewel. Both are talented women in their own right, but certainly not comparable in terms of notoriety or the sheer number of fans and admirers.''
Well, ok, but notoriety does not constitute a legitimate purpose for the state, or its voters. No doubt Schriver's popularity would create any number of invitations even if she were not the wife of the State Governor. One should instead be asking, and defending, the value of these appearances to the state voters.

I had a look at Schriver's web page, and certainly it includes mention of any number of appearances that have all the hallmarks of worthwhile philanthropy and public service, so Schriver's team has plenty to work with. Though it seems to me that philanthropy is supposed to be a donation - you're not supposed to be compensated for it.

The cynic in me has to wonder when some crafty spinmeister finds a way to defend an unmarried candidate with "s/he'll be cheaper for the state to maintain".

Not that her hubby, Schwarzenegger, is any cheaper ... the report a couple of weeks ago was his events cost $10 - 20,000 a pop, or $622,000 over six months. But even though he's in office, Arnold's expenses are covered by political committees.

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