AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Schwarzenegger was elected in 2003 after promising to upend politics as usual in Sacramento. But he’s since become one of the most prolific political fundraisers in state history, and his campaign committees have banked millions of dollars from supporters with business and corporate ties. Schwarzenegger “learned that he couldn’t upend politics as usual, and he had to practice politics as usual,” said Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles research group that studies campaign finance. The governor began the year with his political finances drained after his committees spent more than $50 million in an attempt to enact his failed 2005 “year of reform” ballot proposals. It’s expected his campaign will need at least as much for his re-election bid. His campaign was outspent by a wide margin last year by his rivals. McCain is known nationally for his efforts to reform federal campaign finance laws, and he was once critical of fundraising by former Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat who was replaced by Schwarzenegger. Campaigning with the governor last year, McCain said he advised Schwarzenegger to seek campaign finance reform in the state once the 2005 election ended. One Democratic official said McCain’s appearance was in conflict with federal law authored by the senator, which places restrictions on federal officeholders taking part in events that solicit political funds. The Schwarzenegger invitation includes the senator’s picture, and lists him as a “special guest.” At a time when he’s trying to reclaim his outsider image, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is asking Hollywood and corporate insiders to donate up to $100,000 for his re-election campaign and the state Republican Party. The governor has scheduled a celebrity-studded fundraiser this month in Beverly Hills – headlined by Arizona Sen. John McCain – that could pull in at least $2 million for his depleted campaign account. The host committee includes names from the entertainment and business elite, including “The Terminator” director James Cameron, Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine, Yahoo Chairman Terry Semel and Univision Chairman Jerry Perenchio. Supporters are being asked to kick in up to $100,000 for dinner, a private reception and photographs with Schwarzenegger. In some cases, the money will be divided with the state party, which can use the funds to support Schwarzenegger or run its statewide operations. Other prices, according to the invitation, range from $1,000 for an individual ticket to $50,000 for ticket packages that can include perks like photographs with the governor and a seat at the head table. McCain “is flouting, if not the letter, the intent of his own law,” said Lance Olson, general counsel to the state Democratic Party. “He couldn’t raise that money for his own campaign; he shouldn’t be able to raise it for somebody else.” The invitation includes a disclaimer that says Schwarzenegger’s campaign and the state party are raising the money, and McCain “is not soliciting individual funds beyond federal limit, and is not soliciting funds from corporations or labor unions.” But Olson said the wording is inadequate and McCain “should not have his name appear on material that asks for contributions that are in excess of the federal limits.” Candidates for federal office cannot accept more that $2,100 from individuals for each election. Some individual tickets could give Schwarzenegger as much as $44,600 for his campaign. Trevor Potter, a former Federal Election Commission member who advises McCain, said the disclaimer was carefully reviewed to avoid any conflict. “The disclaimer makes clear he is not asking for any money,” Potter said. State candidates are running with new donation limits this year, but the governor is able to ask for $100,000 ticket packages by dividing the money with the state party. Spokeswoman Katie Levinson said the campaign is “complying with both the spirit and letter” of state campaign-finance laws. In an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the governor said, “I take money because you need to take money. “What is wrong with the system right now is there have been people who pay in and favors go out, and you should never do that. That is the key thing,” Schwarzenegger said. “The fact is that the elections are very expensive.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!