Area Senate, Assembly Members Spend Almost as Much as They Collect : Legislators’ Off-Year Fund Raising Increases
State legislators representing the San Gabriel Valley raised more than $1.8 million last year for their political campaigns and spent more than $1.6 million although it was not an election year.
The legislators used the money to travel, buy political advice, loan money to friends, help political allies and hire professionals to raise more money.
Most of the donations came from statewide political action committees of corporations, trade associations and labor unions, rather than from local residents.
The area’s seven senators and eight Assembly members raised $300,000 more than they collected in 1983, but $1.1 million less than they raised in the election year of 1984.
The legislators disclosed their contributions and expenditures in year-end statements filed by their campaign committees with state and county offices. The statements show that the three state senators and seven Assembly members who face reelection this year have more than $1.2 million in the bank.
All of the legislators have politically safe districts. In fact, two of them, Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier) and Assemblyman Richard Mountjoy (R-Monrovia), are so entrenched that no one filed to run against them, and the only opposition they could face now would be from write-in candidates.
Two senators whose terms do not expire until 1988 are running for statewide office, but will retain their Senate seats if they lose. Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights) is a candidate for state controller and Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora) is seeking the office of lieutenant governor.
Sen. Walter W. Stiern (D-Bakersfield), whose district includes parts of Altadena and Pasadena, raised no campaign money last year because he plans to retire when his term expires at the end of this year.
Runoff Election to Be June 3
There is also an open seat in the Assembly created by the election of Richard Alatorre to the Los Angeles City Council. Alatorre, whose district included part of Pasadena, resigned from the Assembly in December. No candidate received a majority of the votes in a special election April 8 so the top vote-getters from each party will compete in a runoff June 3.
The incumbent legislator who may face the toughest election battle this year in the San Gabriel Valley is Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-El Monte), who raised $84,005 last year and began this year with nearly $70,000 in the bank.
Assembly Republican leader Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) recently announced that Republicans will raise $1 million to wage campaigns against Tanner and five other Assembly Democrats.
Nolan said Tanner was targeted because Republicans think they have a strong candidate in Henry J. Velasco, who has served on the El Monte City Council for 10 years. But Velasco lost a bid for reelection to the City Council last week in a campaign in which voters may have questioned his intentions because he would have had to give up the council seat if he won the Assembly race.
Nolan said the amount of money channeled into the Assembly campaign depends on Velasco’s strength as the campaign develops and on priorities in other races.
Nolan, whose district includes part of Pasadena, raised more money last year than any other San Gabriel Valley legislator, collecting $389,982.
The biggest spender was Alatorre. His year-end report showed expenditures of $356,630, but Alatorre has said that some of this spending is being questioned because of the way he financed his council campaign. A Los Angeles city law that went into effect last year prohibits council candidates from using state committee funds on a city race. The Los Angeles city attorney’s office has said it is investigating Alatorre’s campaign finances.
Sen. Campbell led area senators in campaign spending by paying out more than $213,000. More than $25,000 went to Jerry Haleva, his chief political adviser, and $17,553 went to his campaign treasurer, Kenneth J. Rammell.
Many legislators make charitable donations from their campaign funds. Campbell, for example, gave $1,000 to the Wilson High School band and $1,125 to the Los Altos High School Band Boosters.
Campaign funds also are used to entertain political supporters. Campbell bought $8,000 worth of tickets to Raiders football games and to Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings basketball games.
Legislators are prohibited from using campaign funds for personal expenses, but there are few other restrictions.
Montoya, for example, used his campaign funds to loan $25,000 to Angel Diaz, a Delano farmer, and $8,500 to Amiel Jaramillo, a legislative consultant. Montoya said the loans are advantageous to him because the money draws as much interest as it would in a bank and the loans are recallable at any time if his campaign needs the money.
One of the more frugal spenders last year was Mountjoy, who spent $30,442, much of it on travel between his district and Sacramento.
Mountjoy said all legislators dip into campaign funds to pay for travel between their district and the capital because the state does not cover this expense.
What separates him from many other legislators, Mountjoy said, is that he refuses to transfer money to other campaigns. Many legislators amass more money than they need for their own political activities, he said, but are pressured by party leaders to keep raising money so they can help other candidates.
A campaign reform initiative being circulated for placement on the November state ballot would ban fund transfers. The measure was drafted by the California Commission on Campaign Financing, a bipartisan group of leaders in business, labor and the professions, who undertook a study of campaign financing and found that expenditures for legislative races throughout the state increased from $1.4 million in 1958 to more than $44 million in 1984.
The proposed initiative would prohibit legislators from raising money in non-election years, would limit contributions to campaigns and would partially finance campaigns with tax dollars. The tax money would come from a system that would permit taxpayers to designate up to $3 of their tax liability for deposit in the campaign reform fund.
An examination of legislative campaign statements for last year shows that donations of $1,000 to $2,500 by political action committees were commonplace. But some legislators, because of their leadership role, their service on particular committees or sponsorship and support of special legislation, drew considerably more.
For example, the Marina del Rey Political Action Committee, a group of landlords, gave $10,000 to the campaign of Assemblyman Charles M. Calderon (D-Alhambra) after he sponsored a bill making incorporation of Marina del Rey more difficult. The landlords were concerned that incorporation would lead to rent control because nearly all of the voters in the city would be tenants.
Nolan reported the longest list of big-money donors. He received $16,900 from the California Medical Assn.; $10,000 from the Cooperative of American Physicians; $9,000 from Lincoln Savings of Phoenix, Ariz; $7,000 each from Endless Vacation Systems Inc. of Indianapolis and the Beer Wholesalers Community Affairs Fund; $6,000 from the Irvine Co., and $5,500 from Dr. Howard Stein, a West Covina dentist.
STATE LAWMAKERS’ 1985 WAR CHESTS
It was not an election year, but fund-raising and spending went on anyway for state senators and assemblymen. Here’s how San Gabriel Valley lawmakers reported the state of their war chests from beginning to ending balances, including expenditures and money raised. Source is statements filed with state and county offices.
Beginning LEGISLATORS balance Cash raised donations, loans Ruben S. Ayala (D) $134,996 $129,327 $4,487 34th District William Campbell (R) $140,309 $162,295 None 31st District Joseph Montoya (D) $6,848 $193,387 $6,022 26th District H.L. Richardson (R) $57,453 $30,210 $7,757 25th District Newton Russell (R) $115,374 $49,870 None 21st District Walter W. Stiern (D) $15,504 None None 16th District Art Torres (D) $102,375 $136,834 None 24th District
Non-monetary LEGISLATORS Expenditures Ending balance Ruben S. Ayala (D) $75,431 $204,128 34th District William Campbell (R) $213,833 $70,082 31st District Joseph Montoya (D) $161,987 $140,062 26th District H.L. Richardson (R) $82,282 $11,947 25th District Newton Russell (R) $44,612 $139,562 21st District Walter W. Stiern (D) $ 2,681 $12,823 16th District Art Torres (D) $137,607 $97,335 24th District
Beginning LEGISLATORS balance Cash raised donations, loans Richard Alatorre (D)* $160,284 $192,165 $106,905 55th District Charles Bader (R) $8,084 $103,948 None 65th District Charles Calderon (D) $18,856 $124,690 $11,076 59th District Frank Hill (R) $46,981 $164,075 $293 52nd District William Lancaster (R) $103,646 $70,468 $1,393 62nd District Richard Mountjoy (R) $56,086 $40,707 $920 42nd District Pat Nolan (R) $33,708 $389,982 $6,625 41st District Sally Tanner (D) $35,903 $84,005 None 60th District
Non-monetary LEGISLATORS Expenditures Ending balance Richard Alatorre (D)* $356,630 $8,963 55th District Charles Bader (R) $36,298 $78,098 65th District Charles Calderon (D) $83,638 $55,573 59th District Frank Hill (R) $74,771 $130,888 52nd District William Lancaster (R) $53,800 $132,057 62nd District Richard Mountjoy (R) $30,442 $70,671 42nd District Pat Nolan (R) $202,915 $234,033 41st District Sally Tanner (D) $52,574 $69,849 60th District
*Resigned in December after winning seat on Los Angeles City Council, (D) Democrat, (R) Republican