Assembly Republicans, whose leader is one of the targets of an FBI investigation into political corruption, have raised nearly twice as much money for the Nov. 8 elections as they had at this point during the 1986 campaigns, according to reports filed Thursday with the secretary of state.
The Assembly GOP political action committee, employing a new, more aggressive fund-raising operation, has raised roughly $1.57 million this year, the reports show. At this point two years ago, the same committee had collected about $786,000.
ARPAC, as the committee is known, has distributed $759,195 since July 1 to Republicans challenging Democratic incumbents or trying to hold their own Assembly seats for another two years.
But even the new-found Republican fund-raising strength still does not match that of Assembly Democrats, whose control of the lower house gives them an advantage in seeking political money from the special-interest groups that fight their battles in the Legislature.
Assembly Speaker Willie Brown’s campaign committee has collected $2.14 million so far this year, according to the reports. Brown (D-San Francisco) has transferred almost $1 million of that into the Assembly Democrats’ joint campaign fund, which reported raising a total of $1.4 million as of Sept. 30.
Among Brown’s most generous benefactors were the California Applicant Attorneys’ Assn., a group that mainly handles workers compensation cases, which has given him $54,000 since Jan. 1; the California Teachers Assn., which gave him $40,000, and the Beer & Wine Wholesalers Assn., which gave the Speaker $30,000.
The Republicans collected $70,000 from the Fieldstead Co. of Irvine; $30,000 from Donald M. Koll of Newport Beach and $30,000 from the William Lyon Co. of San Jose. All three contributors are major real estate developers.
The Democratic leadership reported having $1.38 million in the bank as of Sept. 30. Their Republican counterparts reported $569,112.
The FBI’s sting operation--for which federal agents created phony companies, sponsored legislation and paid money to legislators in an effort to uncover extortion and bribery at the Capitol--has so far targeted five elected state officials: Assembly Republican Leader Pat Nolan of Glendale, Assemblyman Frank Hill (R-Whittier), Assemblywoman Gwen Moore (D-Los Angeles), Sen. Joseph B. Montoya (D-Whittier) and Board of Equalization member Paul Carpenter, a former Democratic senator from Norwalk.
Some state party leaders and dissident Republicans in the Assembly had predicted that Nolan’s fund-raising prowess would be damaged because he was named as a target of the sting. But the campaign finance reports appear to show otherwise.
In the month after the sting became public, Nolan, in addition to his work for ARPAC, raised $125,692 for two campaign committees that bear his name. By comparison, in September, 1986, when there was no cloud over his head, Nolan’s two committees collected just $68,018.
September, however, was not as good a month for Hill, a Nolan lieutenant who has all but disappeared from view since the existence of the sting became public Aug. 25. Hill raised $24,900 last month, compared to $36,157 during September, 1986.
The reports do include one item that might be a problem for Nolan: he has paid attorneys $89,189 in campaign funds this year to represent him in connection with the sting and another criminal investigation into whether he knew President Reagan’s signature was forged on campaign letters sent to voters in several districts in 1986. This money could be going to Republican candidates if Nolan were not spending it on his legal fees.
But Anne Richards, a Nolan spokeswoman, said Republican candidates will not be harmed by Nolan’s use of campaign funds for his legal fees. She said the extra money brought in this year under Nolan’s direction will more than make up the difference.
“Pat has honed his expertise at putting on a successful election fund-raising campaign,” Richards said. “He has not been distracted by the FBI sting operation. He has kept his eye on the ball, which is to elect Republicans to the Assembly.”
Montoya, another target of the sting, has also spent campaign funds on lawyer fees. He has paid $20,000 since July 1 to a Sacramento attorney who is representing him.
Montoya, who does not face election this year, reported raising $167,880 through Sept. 30. He got $4,950 of the funds in September after the sting became public.
Carpenter, another sting figure, reported contributions of $99,725, including $3,500 from donors since the FBI probe became public. He also is not running for reelection this year.
Assemblywoman Moore’s campaign report was not available Thursday.
Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti (D-Los Angeles), the Senate Democrats’ chief fund raiser, reported collecting $1.08 million so far this year. Roberti reported spending $1.3 million. Documents showed he had $846,384 on hand Sept. 30.
Senate Republican financial reports were incomplete, but GOP Leader Ken Maddy of Fresno, tapping such traditional sources as doctors and other members of the health care establishment, reported $566,842 in contributions to committees he controls. He said he has spent $580,454 and ended the reporting period with $601,420 in cash.
Times staff writer Carl Ingram contributed to this article.