Teachers union tops list of state political spenders


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Fifteen special interest groups including casino operators, drug firms and unions for teachers and public employees spent more than $1 billion during the last decade trying to influence California public officials and voters, the state’s watchdog agency reported today. The money went for lobbying, campaign contributions to state politicians and ballot measure campaigns to get voters to advance the groups’ agendas, according to the report by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

``This tsunami of special interest spending drowns out the voices of average voters, and intimidates political opponents and elected officials alike,’’ said Commission Chairman Ross Johnson, a former state senator.


Five special interests were responsible for more than half of the billion dollars spent since 2000, including:

--The California Teachers Assoc., which spent $211.8 million.
--The California State Council of Service Employees, $107.4 million.
--The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, $104.9 million.
-The Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which operates a casino under a state-approved compact, $83.6 million.
--The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, which also operates a casino, $69.2 million.
PG&E, Chevron, AT&T, Philip Morris USA and Southern California Edison are also among the top 15 spenders.

--Patrick McGreevy