With Republicans in the California Senate at last about to unveil a series of elusive budget cuts to deal with what they describe as out-of-control deficit spending, their state party apparatus is having a fiscal crisis of its own. High-ranking Republicans within and without the state party confirm that the California Republican Party has run up an operating deficit of nearly a million dollars since new state chairman Ron Nehring took over in February.
This is on top of and separate from the ongoing debt of several million dollars from last November’s election, most of which is a note from an individual donor, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will take care of.
Nehring is in the midst of a 10-day trip to Israel. California Republican Party press secretary Hector Barrajas did not comment on the party’s financial difficulties, and did not dispute the situation.
Former state Assemblywoman Barbara Alby, the Republican national committeewoman for California and a member of the state party’s governing board of directors, said: “I can’t talk. I just can’t comment. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss it in public.”
Other party leaders, such as the normally voluble Flash Report publisher and Southern California vice chairman Jon Fleischman, avoided phone calls and e-mails on the crisis.
Nehring’s 10-day trip to Israel is part of a national Republican tour. It is unclear what the trip has to do with his duties as chairman of the California Republican Party.
High-ranking Republican critics say that Nehring is a junketeer who has neglected his fundraising responsibilities. Nehring was out of the country when Schwarzenegger made his only appearance thusfar this year at a state Republican fundraiser. Since becoming state Republican chairman, Nehring has had a more extensive foreign travel schedule than Schwarzenegger, who has been lampooned in the Flash Report and other right-wing outlets for his globe-trotting ways.
Nehring has, according to sources, traveled to Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Dubai, Israel, and several countries in Eastern Europe since his election as state party chairman at the convention in Sacramento this past February.
Last week, one source revealed, he was in Washington, D.C., addressing the weekly Wednesday group gathering of conservative leaders hosted by his former boss and now client, Beltway conservative power broker Grover Norquist. The longtime friend and close associate of convicted influence peddler Jack Abramoff famously said: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”
Long the head of the Americans for Tax Reform group, which formerly employed Nehring, Norquist found some California controversy of his own earlier this year after he, according to several informed sources, helped push through the appointment of another of his former employees, Michael Kamburowski, as the state party’s top staffer.
Kamburowski is an Australian citizen who ran afoul of immigration authorities and was jailed for a month before gaining and maintaining green card status after the second of his marriages to American women. He filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the U.S. government over his treatment. Nehring, who worked with Kamburowski in the ’90s under Norquist, pushed through his appointment to the California party’s top staff post despite the fact that Kamburowski had no experience in California and precious little relevant political experience in this decade. Nehring said he was completely unaware of Kamburowski’s immigration problems, and Kamburowski was forced to resign.
Leading Republicans speaking on background express dismay at the financial state of the California Republican Party. Schwarzenegger promises to take care of the campaign debt, and it appears that that will be largely accomplished in relatively short order.
But with the party moving farther to the right — the state board of directors voted narrowly earlier this month to prevent independents from voting in its presidential primary next February, and its newly ascendant hard right faction delights in taking potshots at the former action superstar’s popular centrist agenda — it shouldn’t be counting on Arnold Schwarzenegger for a bail-out.
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