A newly formed political committee in Sacramento funded by a group of traditionally Democratic contributors gave $30,000 to Cypress Assemblywoman Doris Allen in her closely fought campaign against two conservative Republican colleagues in Tuesday's primary.
The contribution from the Committee of Working Californians for an Effective Legislature represented more than a quarter of Allen's campaign money and it was enough to make her the top fund-raiser in the GOP primary for the 67th Assembly District.
The treasurer for the 2-month-old committee, Lance Olson, is the general counsel for the state Democratic Party. Olson, who is also partner in a law firm specializing in campaign services, did not return repeated telephone calls to his office Wednesday.
The committee's funds come from a coalition of teachers' organizations and state employee groups. Two other groups representing teachers and school administrators gave Allen an additional $25,000, meaning almost half of her campaign money comes from education and labor interests.
Allen is running against Assemblymen Tom Mays (R-Huntington Beach) and Nolan Frizzelle (R-Fountain Valley) in the state's only legislative contest that includes three incumbent lawmakers.
Allen, a former member of the Huntington Beach Union High School District Board of Trustees, said in an interview Wednesday that she is proud of the contributions because they reflect her hard work on education issues, notably her support for the funding requirements in Proposition 98.
She said she is also supported by state labor groups because of her opposition to the Legislature's recent decision to remove money from the employee pension plan.
"I'm never ashamed of having somebody support me . . . for what I've done," Allen said. "The reason they're giving me money is because of my record for supporting education and the pension issue."
Bill Cavala, a top aide to Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Francisco), said the groups contributing to the new committee traditionally back Democratic candidates. Asked why they might be contributing to Republican primary campaigns, Cavala said: "My assumption is that they are looking for Republican votes down the line for their legislative programs."
Allen's primary opponents, however, had a more cynical view, charging that the committee was established as a way for Brown to meddle in the Republican primary by quietly steering money to a legislative ally.
"For some reason, the Democrats--meaning Willie Brown--have decided to play politics in our primary," Mays said. "I think, basically, some sort of a deal has been struck between Doris and Willie Brown. I don't know what it means, but that kind of money doesn't go into anybody's race unless something is given for it."
Allen said she was also confronted by Frizzelle about the contributions on the floor of the Assembly on Wednesday.
"I said: 'I can't believe this conspiracy theory you've developed,' " she said. "There are no visible signs that the Democrats love me and are going to get involved in my campaign."
Records at the secretary of state's office show the committee applied for approval on March 13, was certified on April 1 and had received more than $140,000 in contributions from five employee groups by May 15.
The committee received $50,000 from the California State Council of Service Employees political action committee; $40,000 from the California State Employees Assn. PAC; $25,000 from a PAC controlled by the California Teachers Assn.; and $25,000 from the California Faculty Assn. PAC. An additional $112 of in-kind services were supplied by the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, which represents rank-and-file police officers.
The committee contributed to three separate legislative races, giving Allen the largest chunk. Allen received $30,000, while Assemblyman Paul Horcher (R-Hacienda Heights) got $10,000 and Valerie Brown, a Democrat running for an open seat in Napa Valley, received $18,150.
Allen also received $15,000 from the California Teachers Assn. and $10,000 from the Assn. of California School Administrators.
In financial disclosure statements filed last week, Allen reported that her campaign had raised a total of $115,315, just slightly ahead of Mays with $113,554. Frizzelle had $44,091 in total contributions.