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June 7th, 2010
07:38 AM ET

Mega Millions for a Governor's Seat

Meg Whitman, eBay’s former CEO, is running for Governor of California. So far, she’s spent $70 million of her own money on her campaign. And she’s willing to spend up to $150 million to win the seat. Her biggest opponent has only spent $30 million (so far).

California’s having all kinds of budget problems. Teachers are getting laid off. Police are getting laid off. Prisoners are getting released early. People are paying for 9-1-1 services. That $100-$150 million could make a huge dent in those problems.

Our question to you: should there be limits on the amount of his/her own money a candidate can spend on a political campaign?

Post your comments here.

Kyra will read some of them on the air during the 10am ET hour of Newsroom.

Filed under: Kyra Phillips
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. cyril ayanbadejo

    She's a success and will probably bring her wealth of experience needed to run an even if she uses a billion to get there,so be it.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:09 am |
  2. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    The common American will never sit in office again only the rich crooked wall street people can afford a government seat .

    June 7, 2010 at 8:10 am |
  3. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Our leaders are no longer chosen by a persons honesty but instead on how big there wallet is .

    June 7, 2010 at 8:13 am |
  4. Dale N.

    When a canidate uses large amounts of their own money in a campaign the lesser funded canidate may need to find additional donations to offset the disavantage.
    The Canidate using large amounts of thier own money are stimulating the economy by hiring and paying businesses and professionals, both of which have employees, equipment,and supplies to provide for the services.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  5. Dylan Raines

    Yes. How about spending no money on a campaign and using it all to help the people politicians claim to want to serve. If the people really want a person elected, their message would spread through word of mouth, online media, or advertising by the supporters.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  6. Scott Stodden

    I actually don't think there should be limits on how much a person should spend on his/her campaign, actually not only do I feel there should be no limits on how much a person spends on his/her campaign but that people should be able to donate as much money as they want for someone's campaign! In the end its not about how much money your spending on your campaign but its about how the voters vote and respond!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    June 7, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  7. Tamara

    A surefire way to win this election would be to donate as much money to the state budget as they spend on ads. I'm fairly certain that an extra $50 million or so in the state budget would do a lot more to sway public opinion than $150 million spent on ridiculous television propaganda.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  8. Mike

    If these are her personal funds that she is spending, who are we to question it? As long as she is not spending California money that could be paying teachers and police officers salaries she may spend them any way she likes.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  9. Gary

    It's her money; I've seen former CEO's use tens of millions of dollars for far less honorable pursuits. What business do we have to tell a woman how to spend her own personal earnings?

    June 7, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  10. Derick Waller

    When Obama raised records amounts of money during an economic crisis, he was hailed as a master of grassroots organizing.

    How is that different here? It costs money to win an election. It's silly to criticize a candidate for raising too much money.

    Do you expect her to donate the money to the state, which her donors gave for the purposes of funding a campaign? What would her supporters think of that?

    June 7, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  11. David in NH

    This is disgusting display of how far our country has drifted from true representative goverment. This is the "let them eat cake" attitude that appears to follow most exceedingly affluent folks, I hope she loses by a landslide. Where are our heros?

    June 7, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  12. Nick

    I don't understand what you want Meg Whitman to do. Should she donate 70 million dollars of her own money to the state to hire back teachers and cops? California is a big state with expensive media markets and Meg Whitman isn't well known. If she wants to spend $70 million to run for Governor I don't see what difference that will make to California's budget deficit. Swing and a miss on this one guys, gin up som phony outrage over more important things.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  13. john dow

    its her money and you making it sound as if she is spending the state's funds. think positive and report like one, all that spending also helped not only the people of cali but also your tv where she placed her add.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  14. Jay W.

    There is no conscious or ethics in American politics anymore, if its not the candidates buying a seat of power, its the unions, business lobby, or special interest. The days of running on records and issues are over. I just hate to think of what the future holds for our country if it continues.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  15. Jenny

    Absurd greed......these candidates need to take the high road and donate to the state they "love" so much and help them to get out of this crisis. This is all about ego........Why would the governor's job be worth 100 million dollars? No one can solve these problems without money,I don't care WHO the candidate is. I believe the candidate who chose to "donate" their campaign expenditures would have won the election. That would have been a win-win for the state and the candidate.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:58 am |
  16. James McGrath

    Seventy million on a primary. How is anyone who is not rich supposed to participate in our "democracy?" We do not have a democracy here, but rather a capitocracy: rule by the rich. This country will go nowhere but further down the slippery slope until capital and politics, like religion and politics, are forever separated. A good start would be to completely ban lobbying on capitol hill and also to completely reform campaign finance laws.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  17. Heyne Ampuero

    It is her money. She can do whatever she wants with her money. Why is the liberal media so obsessed with the way sucessful individuals spend her money. California problems is the product of obscene liberal spending (like Kyra would say) and programs that are worthless.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  18. Jorge

    It's her money, how she spends it is up to her, what should be gauged is her capability to run the state. Once she gets the seat how and how much will she donate to the state from her private funds?

    June 7, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  19. Jim Halley

    The question implies that people have some obligation to consult others in how they spend their money. Sorry ,Kyra but It's her money, she has the right to do what she wants with it.

    June 7, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  20. kwesi, springfield,MA

    Kyra, i can't figured this out, 100-150 million dollars for just primary, well we have problem in this country. I wish none of these people should be elected, why? how much is Governor's salary?
    The state is in debt, why can they use some of the money to hire people?

    June 7, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  21. Stanley Duett

    I believe all Gov officials when running for office should be required to have a set amount that they can spend, and I don't what the smear taticts just the facts.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  22. Fred

    I really think that the type of money that both canadents are throwing around not only insaults California but the entire United States. The combined amount they are using is so rediculous. Million and Billionairs could easily help fix the unemployment and financal crisis, yet they spend their money for a popularity contest instead of actualy making a differance and a change. You dont have to have power to help people, especially with that kind of money.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  23. Loverboy58

    It is obscene to believe that by spending millions of dollars to win a primary can, at the long run change how the state is stuggling to meet the demands of an economy that is still trying to recuperate from the Wall Street fiasco. It sends the wrong message to voters. This shows that any candidate is going to stop at nothing, spending all the money that the state doesn't have. But from my point of view. The candiates already spent the money in primaries need it to get the state back into shape. If those are the leadres that we are going to put in command of the state finances. We are going to be really sorry that we gave them that authority. Have a great day!!!

    June 7, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  24. Bill Gourlay

    Kyra, you cannot legitimately compare a candidate's personal wealth to the shortage of funds in the State of California general fund. We don't spend personal savings on policemen. We pay for them through taxes. Your premise is obviously political in nature.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  25. Anita

    I think it is outrageous that the candidates are spending that kind of money on their campaigns. But- is it any more outrageous than the salaries of all the Hollywood actors and actresses who make their living in California? Is it any more outrageous than the basketball/baseball/football salaries in California and the rest of the country? If you limit what the candidates spend on their campaigns, then also put a cap on the these salaries because it's all outrageous.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  26. Jessica

    First of all it's her money. We often say put up or shut up. She is. Second, that 70 million dollars is being spent in California stimulating the economy. Political signs, shirts, workers, media buys. Tax dollars are being generated through these sales. She said she'll spend up to 150 million to get her seat. Let her spend it!

    June 7, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  27. Laurie

    There is NO reason Meg Whitman wants to be Govenor of California other than she is in cahoots with the Republican party on some grand plan for California and the nation. Pretty sure the Republicans made her and Carly some kind of "deal" to run for you said, WHO spends $70 million of their own money for a thankless job with a $20 million deficit without some kind of an incentive later on down the line? Meg didn't even care enough to vote before she decided to run for Gov.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:03 am |
  28. Cylla

    Isn't all that money spent on campaigning an early indication of misplaced values? Wouldn't it be a better campaigning idea to actually be the person providing the money to help the states' budgets get out of debt?

    June 7, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  29. David

    How do rich people understand the plight of the poor or unemployed in the first place, let alone when they get elected? I don't think I would trust anybody who would want to be governor of that state

    June 7, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  30. QD

    Absolutely,running for Governor of California, as we all known from 100 ago,is a money game only for rich man or rich women,none of our poor or middle class business.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  31. Sheryl Harrison

    Kyra, obscene is not a good adjective to describe Meg’s spending. I believe her spending is arrogant and selfish. When she said she would spend much more to finance the election, I became sick to my stomach. Teachers have lost their jobs and the people of California have to pay money for a 911 call. The spending is utterly disgraceful and arrogant – a selfish act that fuels her ego.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  32. ewm

    Obviously for those Republicans 100 million dollars is merely part of their disposable income. They could have bought an island, a yacht, a tenth home, supported numerous new small business start ups. Instead, they have decided that they could have more fun running for political office by making sure we know their names.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  33. James McGrath

    Somehow I doubt that anyone who's made a fortune on Wall Street really has any business running for public office...

    June 7, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  34. Anthony Chieffo

    What Meg Whitman is spending on her race for governership is her choice. It is her money to spend on whatever she chooses. I think that we need a successful business person out side the political arena to make changes to turn the state around. I think a more important matter such as the solution to the gulf oil problem should be more of an issue than this election. There should be blog site such as yours that gets imput from people to offer idea's to stop the leak. If BP offers a monetary award for the successful idea or plan to stop this leak, maybe this will give a workable solution where their experts have failed.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  35. James K Chambliss Destin, FL., USA

    I wonder if we can keep the receipt in case the person elected doesn't do as well as they say will? I mean, we need a receipt to return a faulty toaster or DVD player or such...right?

    June 7, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  36. David

    Who are we to judge how Meg elects to spend the money she earned as long as it is within the law. If she was spending taxpayer money it would be a different issue. Our country was founded on Freedom and we all have the right to exercise it when it comes to spending money. I think Jon Corzine did the same thing and do not remember CNN beating him up.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  37. Rick

    Instead of questioning money spent to get into office, which by the way, helps the economy on many levels, why aren't you asking WHY the California expenses are so high? Look at where the money is going and why. The retirement and benefit packages now provided to all of the government and union jobs are not paid for by them and a retiree can work til they are 50 and get their max salary for the rest of their lives!! And also ask where the additional 30 to 40% increases for education are going! Our education has gone down the toilet but they still get to charge more for it!!

    June 7, 2010 at 9:14 am |

    Meg should pull out now and donate the other $80 M (she is willing to spend) to the State of California Treasury.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  39. Thomas Griffith II

    Meg Whitman should not be faulted for her success, considering she didn't recieve the millions from donations from other politicians. We should listen to her message and determine if her success can be applied as a tourniquet to stop California's budget bleeding. Although there are plenty of places that we could apply $70 million dollars in California, why place that burden on the back of one individual when the vast majority fights against tax hikes to supports the same programs?

    June 7, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  40. Sara Murrieta

    In our democracy in which we claim that every person has a chance to develop his or her talents and achieve a career that might benefit the community, it is sad that to reach success one has to be a billionaire first. What chance do the little boys and girls in our schools have now to become president of the United States for altruistic motives?

    June 7, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  41. QD

    Meg Whitman is an intelligent business women,if she will be elected by us,I am sure that she will make more than $150 billion for herself,we won`t get a penny from her.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  42. James McGrath

    Am I the only one who sees that the feverish tornado of "making money" is literally and resolutely destroying not only this country but the whole world? The investment banks are now buying up farmland across the world in anticipation of mass starvation, and the opportunity of selling corn for the price of gold to the starving world. The wall street ethos is sick, evil, and has no place in the future of humanity. If we don't get rid of it it WILL destroy us completely.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  43. Brandon

    She's running for office, she isn't in office yet; and she's using personal funds, not state funds. This makes as much sense as complaining about the the record millions spent during the presidential election when the nation's economy was falling apart. At least in this case Ms. Whitman is spending HER money and not the people's money. So exactly what gives anyone the right to tell another person to tell me how to spend their own money?

    I'd rather have someone in office who is willing to spend their own money than someone who just spends all of mine.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  44. Stephanie

    She earned it, therefore she can spend it as she pleases. It will be up to the voters to decide whether or not they trust her to do a good job. It's quite possible that someone with real business success who can make that much money would be perfect for California. However, if she has so much money that she doesn't think spending $70 million on ads is too much, it worries me she wouldn't be conservative enough after being handed HUGE amounts of taxpayer dollars to spend wisely. It's quite possible someone managing a tight budget of their own would be better suited to reform spending and cut unnecessary programs because they are used to working with less. The real problem is that states and government spending and taxation is so far gone, it's hard for anyone to turn the whole thing around alone. We almost need to just start over. There are so many convoluted programs and regulations, and government is so intertwined in EVERYTHING – they need to step down and let people run things. Government is supposed to protect us – NOT feed us, house us, educate us, employ us, tell us who we can marry, what kinds of foods and drugs we can take, etc. If we took away ALL these responsibilities from the government and handed them back to the people we wouldn't need all these politicians.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  45. Stephanie

    And I completely agree with James Chambliss from FL – if these people lie their way into office and don't actually do what they say they will, it should be much easier to get them out!

    June 7, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  46. victoria bell

    Whitman strikes me as a spoiled brat who is going to get her way even if she has to stomp all over everyone with her money.

    I think the amount she's spent is obscene.

    Sadly, in California, we don't have any really good choices for Governor, on either side.

    June 7, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  47. Elisa Mount Dora, FL

    Wow! Gee, I wonder how much the unions are spending. At last count wasn’t it something like 14 million dollars? Where’s all the righteous indignation about that? Wouldn’t their contributions be better spent helping out their members who are being laid off? Funny how you never hear about that. Meg Whitman worked and earned and paid California taxes on her money. She has just as much right to spend it on her own campaigns as the unions and other special interest groups have to spend their member’s money to further their own causes. At least Whitman has a choice about where her money is going.

    June 7, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  48. Greg, Ontario

    For once you have a potential politician spending her own money instead of yours and you think it's wrong? Who cares how much she spends? She is a billionair and will never recoupe what she spent on the election so what's the frakin problem??? My god Americans (journalists especially) can be stupid sometimes.

    June 7, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  49. Larry Herzog Butler

    Wake up America! True democracy and represenation of the people only exist in theory. This world has always been ruled by the wealthy.

    June 7, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  50. Jamion

    Sounds like she is trying to buy the seat rather then win it. Elections should be on issue and more importantly the candidates ability to carry out those issues. This should mean equal representation on all sides, not simply who is more financially inclined.

    June 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  51. Enrique

    Believe me nobody spends a large amount of their own money unless they plan on making it all back. What a shame for Californians.

    June 7, 2010 at 2:09 pm |
  52. Antoine Jones

    I do not believe that there should be a limit on how much personal money a candidate uses, but I agree with most of the people whom already commented about the rich are now in charge. It shouldn't matter how much money you have in a political race but what that person stands for, that persons ideas that will help the country/state/county/city prosper.

    June 7, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  53. TonyD

    This is a red herring. The fiscal issues here in CA are to the tune of billions, not hundreds of millions and everyone knows campaigns are costly. Furthermore, the problem is with HOW money is currently being spent, not how MUCH which will be hopefully helped by the correct person in leadership.

    June 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  54. vanutzi

    This is America no one should tell you how to spend YOUR money. BTW 150 million wouldn't touch California's problems.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  55. tara

    so if she is spending lots of her own money does that mean the endless phone calls asking for donations has gone away?

    June 7, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  56. Linda

    Election televiision media should be limited to several debates, and free. Personal expense and campaigns should be held in a 3 month window with a cap, period. This woman has bought the vote, and has changed 360 degrees on the immigration issue (my cause) and Proposition 13 for he elderly and panders to issues of the moment. It's apparent to me she will be bought out by the La Raza Mexican supremists and instantly become a turn-coat. Oddly, every politician is now for SB1070, lets see what happens after the elections. We have to keep on our toes.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
  57. Mike in Scottsdale

    The rich have been running the country for a long time. The public keeps voting for them. You reap what you sow. I suggest you stop voting for these people. You break party lines, the parties do not care about you or the party lines. Start voting from facts not advertisments. What I am really saying is it is time to take our country back from the rich.

    June 7, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  58. Jane - WI

    I noticed that your reporter asked Meg Whitman how many police officers or teachers could be paid for with what she is spending on her campaign for Governor. I don't recall that question being asked of Barack Obama when he was campaigning for President. Didn't he spend almost a billion dollars to win the election? How much of the public debt could have been paid down with what he raised and spent for his campaign? Why only ask a Republican about her spending, when we have many examples of Democrats spending a ton of money as well?

    June 7, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  59. dmkhammer

    We want politicians to represent our point of view. Ad campaigns deal alot in syrup, generalities, and promises without specifics as to how exactly they intend to get it done. If someone is spending their own money to this degree, it is their own motive and not the support of the people driving that propaganda machine. May the best man/woman win who best represents the people. I think they should determine how much money is enough money to educate the people to their position and cap it. The susbstitute for all the excess syrup should be an increase in televised debates so the candidates can pin each other down to a position and specifics.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  60. Karen

    I can imagine having $150 million dollars, and I certainly wouldn't be wasting it on a campaign for Governor or any other political office for that matter. Surely, this woman thinks there is something to gain by it. And since she will be "buying" the position of Governor, she darn well better know something about it. What do CEO of EBay and Governor of California have in common? hmmm Would that be "common sense?" Maybe we should ask Arnold.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  61. Frank Kuhn

    I have four vehicles. Not a single drop of Exxon fuel or gas has passed the lips of the filler tubes since the Valdez incident. I thoroughly resent the amount of bonus the CEO gets for rehiring the Captain of that ship and for the ecological damage they have swept under the rug. (I am not an environmentalist just a concerned citizen and animal lover). Having said that I am sure you can figure out how much BP fuel or their byproducts I will use in the future. I would rather run out of fuel on the highway and walk to another oil companies station than use either ever again.

    June 8, 2010 at 9:26 am |
  62. Sandy G

    Would we be asking for charity for a bankrupt state if the candidates in question were liberal?

    June 8, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  63. Carol Patterson

    To all you Calif. (?) voters....How much would you pay for your job?
    These candidates are using their own funds to pursue the opportunity to serve you better than you are currently being served. The money is being spend in Calif. to pay for services received. How much are you spending to be of service to your State? More of the 'take from the rich to pay for the (laziness) of the poor"

    June 8, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  64. Sandy G

    Yes, Carol! Well put. That is just what is happening. Thank you~

    June 8, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  65. Allen Bachelder

    This is at least a double-obscenity. In California's financial crisis, what a shame it is to waste $150 million on campaign advertising.

    I do agree with whoever it was who suggested that a donation to the state budget would create more good will, while actually saving some essential state public services and putting public servants back to work.

    But then we still have this problem of people buying elections. The primary qualification for public office thus becomes possession of, or ability to raise, money. At every level of government, the answer is campaign finance reform. We need to level the playing field so that candidates are chosen based on merit.

    June 8, 2010 at 10:15 am |
  66. marsha tandy

    As a former viewer of CNN/HLN I was channel surfing and came across your report on the money being spent in the Ca. Governor's race. I found your attitude, your posture, and your inuendo part of why I no longer watch your network. Your liberalism is nauseating and I couldn't help but wonder why what a private individual does with her money more interesting than what the president of the US does with our taxpayer money. You might want to do a segment comparing the amounts he has spent on his entertainment costs since being in the White House. You have all the concerts, the date nights, the unnecessary flights on Air Force One, the state dinners especially the one for the Mexican president where they released butterflies, come on now lets be fair. I have cut back and no longer have a date night with my husband as we are both retired and can barely afford to pay our bills. I think if you feel Ca. needs help or a bailout you might want to focus on George Soros, Michael Moore, and most of Hollywood, and the liberal millionaires to help. You might want to ask the Gore's to forfeit some of what they will be spending on the new mansion to bail out the new state of residence as well.
    When Pres. GW Bush was paying for his daughter's wedding at his own ranch you tried to crucify him, why don't you use the same measuring stick on the current administration. Oh crazy me, that won't come from your network and that is why your ratings have tanked.
    Keep up the bias you will bankrupt the network and then you may get a bailout, or if we are really lucky the network will disappear.

    June 8, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  67. John Tyler Erie, Pa

    Politics and rich criminals have the same thing in common. If you have money you can buy almost anything. You have a better chance to buy freedom if guilty or a political office even if you not qualified.
    Our founding fathers said that the government is for the people, it should be amended to say that the government is for the rich people.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  68. shay

    I believe if a lot of people realized that she has benefited herself through Goldmann Sachs, then maybe they could ascertain the fact that it is taxpayer bailout money she has also spent on her campaign.

    June 9, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  69. Cheri Frost

    The money spent is ridiculous but what I would love to see covered better is the reality of their claims. Whitman's track record at eBay for increasing the bottom line by instituting new fees and increasing the existing ones is very comparable to a Politician's raising taxes to increase a State's. She raised her Cos profits by harming the smallest of American businesses...the home based business. She's a fake small business supporter. She is ALL about big business and will succeed at Mom and Pop's expense.

    Fiorina is the biggest fake EVER to be foisted on CA voters! Where, except in the mind of a narcissist, is being fired from your last two jobs a success story? She failed at Lucent and then was tapped at HP where her biggest advocate was Dick Hackborn. He woke up and joined the detractors who ousted her. From BusinessWeek Online 2005..."Few Know That HP Legend And Director Dick Hackborn, Who Was Instrumental In Hiring The Former CEO, Was Also Key In Orchestrating Her Ouster". Seems like a BAD sign to me that the man who thought you'd be great for HP was one who in the end forced you out.

    June 9, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  70. Karen

    Carol, your remark about the poor being lazy seems harsh to me. Most are not lazy and would give anything to have a job in these trying times. Times that have been layed on them by Wealthy Businessman and Politicians. There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, hard working people, out of jobs and losing their homes. Not because they asked for it or wanted it, but because of the Bad decisions of the Wealthy. People who have money don't have to struggle for food, shelter or healthcare. So don't blame the poor for being lazy, when it's the Wealthy that are the major cause of not only California's problem, but the whole United States as well.

    June 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm |
  71. Muin

    LOL. It's fine. It's not her fault that she has own money to spend. President, former presidents and many others got lot of money from all sources and spent most of it as well. Thats even worse. Then you would have to listen to many interests and take care of them when you are in office.

    June 10, 2010 at 1:32 am |