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Schwarzenegger appoints to horse-racing board a businessman who employed his chief of staff

September 24, 2009 |  1:25 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed to the state horse-racing board a politically connected businessman who once employed his chief of staff, the governor’s office announced today.

The company run by Keith Brackpool, 52, of Los Angeles paid Schwarzenegger Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy $120,000 in 2005 as a consultant. She advised the firm, Cadiz Inc., on a project to store water from an underground aquifer in the Mojave Desert for use during droughts in Southern California.
Schwarzenegger, who is now negotiating with lawmakers on a water deal that could fund billions of dollars in new projects, endorsed Cadiz’s proposal earlier this year, though he has not committed to making it part of an agreement to bolster the state’s water supply.

As Schwarzenegger’s highest-ranking aide since 2006, Kennedy approves all appointment recommendations made to the governor for state boards and commissions and is deeply involved with his water policy. In 2006, after her income from Cadiz was disclosed, the governor’s office said she would recuse herself from matters connected to its water project.

The governor’s spokesman, Aaron McLear, said today that Kennedy was likely involved in the discussions on the governor’s endorsement of the project but that there were no state regulatory proceedings or applications pending for the project and thus there was no need for a recusal. He said the governor is generally in favor of such groundwater storage projects.
McLear said Brackpool is qualified for the racing board as a longtime thoroughbred owner who was recommended by people in the racing industry.

Kennedy approved his appointment, McLear said.

Brackpool was a supporter of former Gov. Gray Davis, for whom Kennedy also worked, and an advisor to Davis on water issues. The part-time board appointment pays $100 a day for occasional meetings and is subject to approval by the state Senate.

-- Michael Rothfeld in Sacramento