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Reiner Ruckus is Nothing New


Actor-turned-Activist Rob Reiner is caught in a political firestorm in California all of his own doing. Some pundits have tried to remind Reiner that politics, unlike Hollywood, is serious business, but Reiner knows that. If Reiner was surprised by the criticism he received over the latest round of Fist Five advertisements, it was because he had done exactly the same thing before and got away with it.
In 1998, voters approved Proposition 10—a fifty cent cigarette tax which was intended to pay for “early childhood development” programs, including universal preschool.
It turns out Reiner could not deliver on the universal preschool promise, so he planned on going back to the ballot box again with Proposition 82—a measure to pay for universal preschool by soaking the rich…perhaps the only group of Californians who are less popular than smokers.
What happened next is the subject of controversy, and Bill Bradley explains it succinctly:

“…the Reiner commission tossed nearly a quarter-billion dollars worth of advertising and PR contracts to firms that worked on Reiner’s campaign. Some of Reiner’s consultants went on the state payroll personally to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. And out of that total mentioned above, $23 million went into advertising for “Preschool For All,” one of the biggest governmental ad buys in California history, from November to mid-January. In January, Reiner’s new initiative, calling for a tax on the rich to fund universal preschool, not so coincidentally called “Preschool For All,” qualified for the June ballot.”

The appearance of impropriety led Republican Contoller Candidate Tony Strickland to call for the Governor to strip Reiner of his position, and has now led to a State Legislative Audit of the commission’s spending.
That’s good, but unless an audit goes way-back, it won’t do Rob Reiner justice. In 2000, when Proposition 28 threatened to repeal Proposition 10 and dismantle his personal fiefdom, Reiner put the public dollars to work to protect his tax hike the children.
According to the 1999-2000 Annual Report of the California Children and Families Commission, the body spent $13,966,000 on a mass media campaign starting in January 2000—two months before the election when Proposition 28 was on the ballot.
Those millions were spent on a multi-media ad campaign including billboards and tv ads which implored voters Californians, “Please don’t smoke in my world…It’s all about the kids…Paid for by The California Children and Families Commission. Funded by Proposition 10.”
Meanwhile, the proponents of Prop 28 spent only 6 figures to wage their campaign against Reiner’s millions.
If it seems like Rob Reiner thought he could get away with using tax dollars to support his political efforts, it’s because he has done it and he has gotten away with it. It’s just that for once, the media decided to pay attention.

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 10:37 AM | Permalink

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