In Quest for Contributions, Campbell Earns His Money
It was Plautus, the Roman playwright, who first said that you have to spend money to make money. But William Campbell, the California state senator, might as well have coined the phrase himself.
Campbell, a Republican whose district includes a strip of Orange County reaching from Brea to Laguna Niguel, spent $198,819 in campaign funds last year. Most of that, he said, he spent in pursuit of contributions to help him repay more than $400,000 he owed individuals, companies and other politicians who financed his failed bid for the office of state controller in 1986.
Campbell, a 23-year veteran of the Legislature, is a political animal. Almost everything he does has some connection to politics. And much of what he does he pays for with campaign contributions.
Whenever Campbell attended a Los Angeles Raiders football game or a Los Angeles Clippers or Sacramento Kings basketball game last year, he got in on one of the more than $13,000 worth of season passes he bought with campaign funds.
Campbell said he gives most of those tickets away to friends, supporters and charities. When he does attend, Campbell said, he usually takes along someone who might be good for a campaign contribution.
The same goes for the theater, where Campbell spent $900 in campaign money buying tickets last year.
When Campbell’s political supporters die, their families can expect the senator to respond with a personal gesture--a bouquet of flowers--paid for with campaign funds. Last year Campbell spent $1,136 on flowers, most sent in sympathy.
Campbell said he does not believe it debases a relationship to make the conveying of sympathies a political act.
“The connection is political,” Campbell said. “It’s personal, but it’s also political.”
Although Campbell, like all other Los Angeles-area legislators, gets free parking at Los Angeles International Airport, he often hires a limousine to take him there instead. A limo is sometimes cheaper than a taxi, he said, and besides, “often you have a whole lot of luggage.”
Campbell doesn’t vacation much, but he does travel extensively on political business. Last year, a private foundation flew him to Germany for two weeks and put him up at a cost of nearly $4,700. While Campbell was in Germany, several state officials went to England--at state expense--to open the California trade office in London.
So Campbell hopped across the English Channel and paid for the side trip with campaign funds. Later, he went to Italy and, while there, attended a party in honor of a former state assemblyman--another political expense.
Campbell’s campaign travel tab came to $29,692 in 1987, easily the highest among the 13 legislators who represent parts of Orange County.
Most lawmakers hire political consultants to help them run their campaigns. Campbell keeps his longtime aide and confidant, Jerry Haleva, on a retainer that brought Haleva $50,000 in consulting fees last year, on top of his $80,000-a-year government salary.
Haleva, who often goes on the road in service of the senator, spent $13,735 in Campbell campaign funds last year, including $2,154 for air fare, $1,361 for hotels, $1,009 for rental cars and $1,285 for meals.
Campbell said he follows the “law of common sense” in deciding how to pay for the work Haleva does for him. Haleva’s political tasks, of course, cannot be billed to the state. Campbell said he is especially careful to use campaign funds, not state money, when there is any question about Haleva’s role.
“If he has to go down to Los Angeles, and in the morning he meets with the county people to talk about a problem they have, and then he goes to a lunch on a political thing and does some political work in the afternoon, the lunch and the travel down and back we’ll pay for (out of campaign funds),” he said. “We’ll err on the side of caution.”
Campbell raised $269,813 in 1987, leaving him about $70,000 ahead for the year after his nearly $200,000 in expenditures were deducted.
And Campbell didn’t flinch when he was asked how much of his spending is necessary to get him reelected in his predominantly Republican district, where he faces only nominal opposition this year.
“All of it,” he said.