If money is the key ingredient to any winning political campaign, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has had a serious across-the-board advantage in the race to succeed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But Whitman’s 2009 financial disclosure report reveals one particularly interesting expenditure: more than $1 million in an entertainment production company called “Tools Down! Productions.” In most any other circumstance, such an investment by a billionaire former CEO would not raise any eyebrows. But Whitman’s newly-found interest in production companies is suspicious for one reason — and his name is Mike Murphy.
Murphy, a much sought-after Republican strategist and consultant, was reportedly about to sign on to Whitman’s GOP challenger Steve Poizner’s campaign when Whitman generously made her investment.
The New York Times reports:
“The timing of the investment and its unusual nature — Ms. Whitman lists no other holdings in the world of independent movie production — raise some questions about its ultimate purpose: Was it strictly a business decision, or part of an effort to ensure that a coveted political strategist did not work for the competition? Or perhaps a way to sweeten the pot so he would eventually sign on with the right team?”
Sources also report that the Poizner campaign was lobbying Murphy hare to get him to join their team during the summer and fall of 2008. In October of that year, Murphy apparently emailed a staff member working of Poizner and wrote that he was going to “check totally out of 2009 and 2010.”
Two days later Whitman made her investment.