Shriver rejects spending limits in L.A. County supervisor race

Shriver rejects spending limits in L.A. County supervisor race
Former Santa Monica City Councilman Bobby Shriver announces his bid for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at a news conference earlier this year. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County supervisorial candidate Bobby Shriver has rejected voluntary campaign spending limits and indicated he'll use at least $300,000 of his own money to seek the seat being vacated by board member Zev Yaroslavsky.

Shriver, a businessman and member of the Kennedy family, declared his intentions in paperwork filed with the county elections office.


Under the county's campaign finance law, candidates can accept up to $1,500 per contributor if they agree not to spend more than $1.4 million for the primary race. Friday's action by Shriver removes spending limits for all the other candidates competing in the western county district.

Shriver's chief strategist, Bill Carrick, said the former Santa Monica city councilman hasn't decided how much of his personal wealth he will spend. But Carrick noted that the top two contestants in last year's L.A. mayoral contest, Mayor Eric Garcetti and former controller Wendy Greuel, each spent about $5 million in their primary race.

Yaroslavsky's district, stretching from Hollywood and the Westside to the western San Fernando Valley, takes in the same costly media market, Carrick said.

"It's very difficult to communicate with $1.4 million," he said. "This is the only vehicle we can use."

Shriver's action raises the specter of a costly, hard-fought campaign in the months ahead.

His chief rival, Sheila Kuehl, responded Monday by asking for contributions of up to $10,000 in an email to a select group of friends. Kuehl had previously abided by the county's $1,500-per-contributor limit.

"I can't get there at $1,500 a pop," Kuehl said Tuesday. "That's why the county rules change for those of us who don't have inherited wealth."

Kuehl said a funding pitch sent out later Monday by Shriver's campaign was disingenuous. It criticized Kuehl for soliciting sums larger than Shriver's "self-imposed" $300 cap on donations from others.

But Shriver isn't allowed to accept more than $300 from contributors because he rejected voluntary spending limits, Kuehl said. "I just think it's a mischaracterization."

Carrick disagreed.

"We wanted people to know, potential donors to know, that she is out there aggressively raising money and we are committed to making this a competitive race for supervisor,'' he said. "And part of being competitive is being financially competitive."

In the latest finance documents filed with the county through Dec. 31, Kuehl had reported raising $429,400. John Duran, a West Hollywood city councilman, raised $54,000. Six other candidates, including Shriver, haven't yet been required to file a fundraising report.