Santa Monica, Calif.-based columnist and author Thomas D. Elias was aiming at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in this Los Angeles Daily News piece. But, in the process, Elias ended up hitting the plastic pipe sector instead. The column charges that Schwarzenegger appointed members to the California Building Standards Commission who are friendly to plastics pipe interests as payback for contributions to his campaign. The result: the commission approved expanded use of chlorinated PVC pipe in California. Elias writes: "Schwarzenegger has taken more than $15.9 million from builders and developers who will benefit from this change made by his appointees. To some, that makes this one smell a little wrong." And he throws in an implication that CPVC exposes consumers to "possible danger from leaching of toxics or cancer-causing chemicals." Note to Elias: the environmental issue was thoroughly debated, and if you want a better handle on which other special interests were involved in the CPVC debate in California, you might want to read this editorial from the San Diego Union-Tribune. I agree that campaign dollars influence public policy. There's a pay-to-play mentality in all the statehouses in America that offers the opportunity for what I'll call legal corruption. But while it may be legal, it's still ugly. Elias is doing a public service by shining a light on the problem -- but a disservice to plastic pipe makers by implying that, in this case, the decision did not have obvious merit to nearly all California consumers.
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