Manning J. “Manny” Post, a key California Democratic Party fund-raiser and controller who advised two generations of candidates and headed the Little Hoover Commission, has died at the age of 82.
Post died Monday in Santa Monica. He underwent surgery last year for treatment of lung cancer and suffered from skin cancer, emphysema, diabetes and kidney problems. He also had five heart surgeries in recent years.
Despite his age and declining health, Post was appointed last December as one of six nonlawyer members on the State Bar Board of Governors, pledging to toughen lawyer discipline and work for legislation affecting the judicial system. He remained vice president of the state New Motor Vehicle Board and resigned only a few months ago from the Senate Commission on Cost Control.
“I’ve had an adventure all my life,” Post told the Recorder, a legal publication, only last month. “I enjoy working. If I didn’t work in government, what the hell would I do? Go out there [indicating the beach near his Santa Monica condominium] and sit on a park bench like an old guy and die? I keep going and going. I find interesting things to do.”
A onetime Republic Pictures producer and longtime North Hollywood Volkswagen dealer, Post chose politics as the font of interesting things to do. An expert at handling money, he became treasurer for the California presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson and headed the inaugural campaign committee for Jimmy Carter.
A major Democratic fund-raiser, Post also served as longtime controller for the Democratic State Central Committee and treasurer for legendary state Assembly Speaker Jesse Unruh, who coined the political mantra: “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”
Post also helped lead the gubernatorial campaign of former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley and was a longtime friend and advisor to current Los Angeles City Council President John Ferraro, as well as several legislative candidates over 40 years.
“Manning Post was my friend and mentor, a man who taught me the value of public service and helped me learn to navigate the stormy waters of politics,” commented Assembly Speaker-Elect Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), who announced Post’s death. “His passing is a great personal loss, and a loss to the people of California.”
Of the dozen or so boards and commissions on which Post served, he will probably be best remembered for his more than 20 years on the Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy. Popularly known as the Little Hoover Commission, the nonpartisan group consisted of seven businessmen and four legislators who acted as a watchdog, ferreting out wasteful state spending and other problems.
Post, who headed the commission from 1972 to 1975, personally fought to expand competitive bidding for California Highway Patrol vehicles, integrate state income tax returns with federal returns to economize, force horse racing tracks to test horses for drugs, sell surplus state lands and improve administration of state bond funds for various new facilities. He often asked the state attorney general’s office to make its own investigation of such problems as purported overpayments to doctors for medical services and to prosecute abuses.
“Manning Post was a wonderful human being and a great servant to the state of California,” said state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco), who appointed Post to the State Bar Board of Governors despite criticism that Post had no background in legal matters. “His role on the State Little Hoover Commission helped provide many recommendations to save millions of dollars for the taxpayers of California.”
Post was also active in community and charitable efforts, serving on the boards of Brandeis University in Boston and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and heading the board of the Otis School of Art. Memorial contributions can be made to any of those institutions.
Post lived in Beverly Hills until his multimillion-dollar home there was destroyed in a 1999 mudslide, after which he moved to the Santa Monica beachfront condominium.
He is survived by his wife of seven years, actress Cheryl Reventlow Post, who was one of the original Mouseketeers on television’s “The Mickey Mouse Club” in the 1950s.
Hertzberg said a memorial service will be planned.