SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is leaving office just as he came in — with a party paid for by outside interest groups.

The California State Protocol Foundation, a nonprofit affiliated with the California Chamber of Commerce that has helped pay the travel expenses for many of Schwarzenegger’s overseas trips, is collecting donations for the party at the Sacramento Convention Center.

The governor plans to attend the Dec. 16 party but is not involved in the planning, Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said.

Responding to a reporter’s question on Monday, the Republican governor said he wants to thank people who have worked hard for his administration over the past seven years. He also said he wants a celebration that involves some people and interest groups outside the administration.

“And there’s people that have helped us from the outside, from labor to businesses, so we want to include everyone and we want to say thank you to those people,” Schwarzenegger said.

“We don’t use any tax money, as you know,” he added. “We only use money from donations and so whatever is then left that needs to be taken care of, I will personally pay for that. I think it’s the appropriate thing to do, is to say thank you to the people.”

It’s unclear whether the general public will be invited to the celebration.

The Chamber of Commerce declined comment.

The NAACP is among the event supporters, although president Alice Huffman said the group was not helping pay for it.

“We’re there as part of the support, fan club,” she said. Schwarzenegger’s “been a great guy for the NAACP and our community in many ways. … Sometimes you feel like you’re losing a good friend.”

The Sacramento Bee reported that one appeal for support is seeking tax-deductible donations of $25,000 “for this memorable evening.”

McLear said groups that have backed Schwarzenegger wanted to put together an event to honor him, but the governor himself is focused on addressing California’s $6 billion budget shortfall.

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, meanwhile, is still working out the details of his inaugural celebration, spokesman Sterling Clifford said.

Brown has said it would not be appropriate to have a lavish party in the midst of tough financial times, but he also recognizes the celebratory tradition of welcoming a new governor and wants to thank his campaign staffers for their hard work, Clifford said.

“However it comes out, I think you can count on it to reflect Jerry’s natural frugality as well as the austerity of the moment,” he said.

(© 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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