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Essential Politics October archive

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GOP mega-donor is spending more than $1 million in coastal L.A. County Assembly district

The Spirit of Democracy California, an independent expenditure committee backed by Republican mega-donor Charles Munger Jr., has dropped more than $1.4 million on a single Assembly race this year between Assemblyman David Hadley (R-Manhattan Beach) and former Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat.

The matchup is one of the most closely watched this cycle, attracting more than $2.6 million in state and local party spending on both sides. 

Munger's group has spent more on the coastal Los Angeles County race than all other races it has spent on combined.

The vast majority of the money — $1.1 million in the last two weeks — has gone toward negative ads against Muratsuchi, including a scathing ad that references the Miramonte teacher sexual-abuse scandal

The 30-second TV spot titled "Crumbles" details how the LAUSD teacher "fed his students cookies laced with semen" and was later sentenced to prison and features video of a cockroach crawling on a stack of cookies.

The ad accuses Muratsuchi of co-authoring a bill that would have made it "even more difficult to fire pervert teachers."

The bill, AB 375, grew out of a desire to make the teacher dismissal process easier and more streamlined following the LAUSD scandal.

But Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it in 2013, saying certain provisions could "do more harm than good," particularly a limit on the number of depositions each side could take and restricting a school district's ability to amend charges with new evidence.

The following year, a similar measure was passed and signed into law.

Spirit of Democracy California is at the center of an FPPC investigation into whether it illegally coordinated with the Hadley campaign by sharing a political consultant. The ethics watchdog went to court last week, asking a judge to order Hadley's campaign to turn over documents and records it says the campaign has not supplied.

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