Over the last two weeks of October 2004, Gov. Schwarzenegger and billionaire Henry Nicholas led a campiagn to defeat Prop 66, a ballot initiative that would have eased some of the most onerous parts of California’s "three strikes" law. With Schwarzenegger’s campaigning and Nicholas’ money, the "no" campaign made political history, taking an initiative that seemed certain to pass and sending it to a shocking defeat.
The "no" vote grew by nearly 30 points in two weeks. Independent pollsters say they have never seen such dramatic movement in a ballot initiative.
Nicholas’ behavior during those two weeks was strange. He seemed to work all night, rarely sleeping. With the assistance of then Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, Nicholas pulled an all-nighter in the Long Beach home studio of a rock musician to make "No on 66" radio ads. He then started calling radio stations over the last weekend, begging managers to broadcast the ads despite full slates.
It all seemed manic, but Nicholas told me at the time he simply had a passion for crime victims. Now a new indictment of Nicholas suggests a different explanation for his behavior: drugs.
Nicholas, who first drew the attention of the federal government because of a stock option backdating problem at his firm Broadcom, is charged with distributing drugs between 1999 and 2005–a period that covers the time of the No on 66 campaign. There’s no indication that California authorities have looked at whether any of Nicholas’ business or personal activities had any financial impact on the campaign.
Maybe they should. If he was trafficking in drugs, did any money from that end up in the "No on 66" effort?