News and analysis on California politics
Spending hits the millions in hottest races for Congress in state

 Candidates in the hottest House races in the state are spending millions on their campaigns.  But in some cases, groups outside the campaigns are laying out  even more, campaign finance reports show.

 Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) has spent nearly $3.6 million trying to fend off a challenge from former  Rep. Doug Ose, of Sacramento, who has spent about $2.7 million on his own campaign. 

But national political party organizations and other interests have bankrolled a combined nearly $10.4 million to support or oppose  Bera and Ose through television ads, mail campaigns or get-out-the-vote efforts.

The spending is detailed in campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The latest candidate reports, which were due Thursday, covered the reporting period from Oct. 1 through 15, ending just as the races entered the home stretch before the Nov. 4 election.  Since then, candidates have been required to report additional contributions of $1,000 or more within 48 hours....

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Democrat Betty Yee has cash advantage in controller race

Betty Yee, the Democratic candidate for state controller, has a solid fundraising advantage heading into the home stretch of her campaign, according to new reports.

Yee, a member of the Board of Equalization, had $225,670 in the bank as of Oct. 18. She has spent $1.8 million since the beginning of the year.

Her Republican opponent, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, had $89,686 saved up and has spent $1.1 million since January.

Controller can be an obscure position, with responsibility for managing the state's cash flow and auditing state and local government. However, the campaign has drawn more attention because Swearengin is considered one of the Republican Party's best hopes of winning a statewide seat.

Union organizations have spent more than $400,000 to attack Swearengin, plus another $60,000 to support Yee.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

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Drug-sentencing ballot measure draws million-dollar donors

Supporters of Proposition 47 are rolling out television ads as national money comes to bear in the campaign to reduce drug penalties in California.

The George Soros-sponsored Yes on 47 committee and four other supporting campaigns reported collecting nearly $9 million by early Friday. That compares with $445,000 brought in by opponents, largely money from state police officer unions.

Spending follows the same unequal pattern: $459,000 by opponents while the supporting campaigns report writing checks for $4 million.

That is just what is on the main books now. In addition, the Yes on 47 campaigns report $70,000 in salaries for field workers from more than a dozen community organizing groups, churches and foundations across Southern California. There is more than $1 million in "accrued" expenses yet to be paid, or paid on behalf of the Yes on 47 campaign by others.

Proposition 47 would make possession of most drugs, including heroin and cocaine, a misdemeanor. It also would reduce petty...

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Reports show millions collected in some of state's hot House races

Candidates in some of California's hardest-fought congressional races continue to raise cash for campaigns that are costing millions, reports filed Thursday showed.

Campaign finance reports, covering the period from Oct. 1-15, were due at the Federal Election Commission by midnight. Several candidates beat that deadline by hours.

Among them were the two Democrats competing for a Bay Area congressional district.  Former Obama administration official Ro Khanna had raised a total of $4.4 million in his challenge against Rep. Mike Honda of San Jose, who brought in $2.9 million.  However, Honda had more left to spend at the end of the reporting period -- $420,000 to Khanna's nearly $148,000.

In  some of the more traditional, Republican-versus-Democrat races, Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) reported raising a total of nearly $3.6 million. His Republican challenger, businessman Carl DeMaio, reported almost $2.9 million.   Peters had $684,000 cash on hand to DeMaio's nearly $482,000.

In the...

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State Sen. Darrell Steinberg to join law and lobbying firm

A week after stepping down as leader of the state Senate, Democrat Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento said Thursday that he will join the law and lobbying firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP on Dec. 1, a day after he leaves office.

Steinberg will be chairman of the firm’s California Government Law and Policy Practice, although state law prohibits him from lobbying state officials for one year after he leaves office.

“Our clients want the deep understanding of state and local governance that Senator Steinberg will bring after decades of public service, including the last several years at the focal point of California government," said Richard Rosenbaum, the firm’s chief executive officer, in a statement.

The firm has provided lobbying at the Capitol during the last two years on behalf of some 40 clients including the American Chemistry Council, the California Solar Energy Industries Assn., brewer MillerCoors, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., the Poker Players Alliance, casino operator Soboba Band...

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Gov. Jerry Brown finally spends campaign money, but not on himself

California Gov.  Jerry Brown is finally spending some significant money on the November election. But once again, his focus is not on his reelection, which seems assured given public opinion polling, but rather two propositions on the November ballot.

The Democrat spent more than $10 million out of a campaign committee he controls that is earmarked for pushing Propositions 1 and 2, the water bond measure and rainy day fund proposal, respectively, between Oct. 1 and 18, according to reports filed Thursday with the state.

The money was spent largely on television ads blanketing the state featuring the governor, an economist, a farmer and a firefighter touting the two measures as critical for California’s future.

That account had $6 million in it as of Oct. 18, according to the reports.

Brown also spent $3.4 million out of his candidacy account during the same time period. Nearly all of it was spent on advertising supporting Propositions 1 and 2.

Brown has spent practically no money on...

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