Independent spending for 2010 campaign sets record

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Plenty has been written about Meg Whitman’s record campaign spending ($141.5 million of her own money, in case you haven’t heard).

But Whitman’s not the only one who set a campaign spending record this year. Outside groups spent more money through so-called independent expenditure committees this year than in any past year. That’s according to numbers compiled from the Fair Political Practices Commission.


As of Tuesday, independent groups spent more than $31.7 million on the governor’s race, breaking the record sent in 2006. Most of the money, about $25 million worth, was spent by groups backing Jerry Brown’s candidacy.

Unlike contributions that go directly to a candidate, independent expenditures are not subject to state campaign finance limits. But groups that spend the unlimited money are prohibited from coordinating their campaign efforts directly with a candidate’s campaign. Union-backed independent groups served as the surrogate Brown campaign during the summer months after Whitman’s primary victory over Steve Poizner. As Whitman hit the airwaves and Brown’s campaign remained dark, union-backed groups spent millions on television and radio ads.


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-- Anthony York