During the California gubernatorial campaign last year, Republican Meg Whitman spent a record $144-million of her own money to lose big to Democrat Jerry Brown. A new report came out that her wealth was relatively unchanged over the last three years despite dropping a pretty nickel on her first attempt at public office. Whitman, however, did drop in rank from 773rd to 938th on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people. When you’re a billionaire several times over, $144-million really is pocket change.
A recruiter called me last year to talk about being a PC technician at the Whitman campaign office in Palo Alto. I flat-out refused to consider taking the position. This astonished the recruiter. I had previously worked 13 months at eBay as a desktop support specialist. A perfect background to work with the former CEO of eBay. After all, everyone at eBay loves Whitman. Sure, if you’re working at eBay. Like most tech companies in Silicon Valley, drinking the Kool-Aid is a requirement if you want to keep your job. Like most corporate CEOs who pull down a stratospheric salary, Whitman developed a sinister dark side when it came to dealing with the employees who serve her: a PR person was shoved in a verbal confrontation in 2007, and an illegally employed nanny of nine years was let go before the campaign got started in 2009.
Did I want to work for such a person? No way, Jose.
I also had more personal reasons not to work for the Whitman campaign. As a moderate conservative, I was supporting moderate conservative Tom Campbell in his run for governor. Didn’t make sense to work for Whitman when I wanted her to lose the primary election. Unfortunately, with the Tea Party gaining ungodly influence in the primary elections, a moderate conservative didn’t have a prayer even if he had a better chance at winning independent voters in the general election. Campbell dropped out of the governor’s race to run for U.S. senator but he still couldn’t beat the more conservative Carly Fionrina. I ended up voting for Jerry Brown for governor and Barbara Boxer for senator. Not a single Republican candidate won state office in the 2010 election.
For a moment I did seriously consider taking the job to write a kiss-and-tell essay after the campaign was over. I saw a documentary about Hunter S. Thompson who covered the presidential campaigns of President Richard Nixon and George McGovern for Rolling Stone magazine about a week before the recruiter called. I always did love the idea of independent journalism that spits in the eye of the establishment news media. I’m now reading “Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America” by John McMillian.
And maybe I did make a mistake by not taking the job to do just that.
I write and publish mostly fiction, and never seriously bothered with writing non-fiction beyond the occasional blog post. After the election was over I started creating ebooks to reprint my previously published short stories, and learned from other writers that original non-fiction tend to sell better as ebooks. (The reprint of my Christmas shopping essay is still my best-selling ebook to date.) If I’m still doing contract work next year, I’ll work for one of the presidential campaigns and write a kiss-and-tell ebook.