Several donors who once backed Gov. Gray Davis are now giving to others on the Oct. 7 recall ballot, including Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has abandoned his pledge not to take donations from outside interests.
Orange County businessman Peter V. Ueberroth, also a Republican, is tapping his business partners heavily. State Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) is hoping to corral donors by touting himself as the one true conservative, now that Bill Simon Jr. has withdrawn from the race to oust and replace Davis.
And Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, the one major Democrat on the ballot, last weekend received more than $300,000 from a San Diego County Indian tribe -- his first significant tribal gift in the recall campaign.
Contribution reports filed with the state show that donors to the top-tier candidates include some who have tangled with Davis in the past. Timothy C. Draper is one; he aired television commercials in 2000 aimed at undermining Davis while Davis campaigned against an initiative that Draper sponsored.
But Davis continues to out-raise each of his rivals. He has amassed $5 million so far this year, with more than $755,000 flowing into his coffers on Friday and Saturday to aid his anti-recall effort.
Davis’ challengers have raised a total of $10 million. With the election six weeks away, the campaign appears unlikely to reach the $100-million price tag experts predicted when it began.
Schwarzenegger is leading Davis’ opponents in contributions, having given himself $2 million and raised an additional $1.2 million -- despite his promise at the start of the campaign not to raise outside money. Former major league baseball commissioner Ueberroth is next, having given his campaign $1 million and raised an additional $1.2 million, much of it from business associates.
Among the other major candidates, Bustamante has raised $458,000, followed by Republican McClintock’s $388,000. Independent candidate Arianna Huffington has $190,000. And donors have given $3.5 million to various committees established to support the recall effort, according to statements filed with the California secretary of state.
Actor Reverses Himself
Several donors to Schwarzenegger periodically have business pending with the state, even though the actor said upon entering the race that he was campaigning “without any baggage,” had not “sold out to any special interest” and was “not taking any money from anyone.”
Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren and his wife, Brigitte, gave the entertainer $42,400. Bren has long been a donor in state and national politics, particularly to Republicans, although the Irvine Co. gave $72,500 to Davis in his first term.
Hilmar Cheese Co. is another Davis donor that has switched to Schwarzenegger, giving him $21,200, the maximum that individuals and corporations can give directly to candidates.
Several of the donors have been Davis critics in the past. Draper, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who financed a failed 2000 initiative campaign to authorize tax-funded vouchers for private schools, donated $21,200 to Schwarzenegger, as did his wife and father.
“There is a real possibility he can turn the state around,” Draper said. “As soon as I saw that he was running, I said to myself, ‘This is the right man for the right time.’ ”
Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman dismissed any contradiction between the candidate’s early statements and his decision to accept donations, saying the entertainer “will not play the special-interest game that plagues politics in Sacramento.”
“There are a multitude of people who want to help Arnold get to Sacramento to reform the system,” Stutzman said. “Many of those donors will include people who have contributed to other candidates in the past. The difference is that they do not expect anything in return.”
“To say a huge developer and other special interests won’t come knocking at your door is stupid,” said Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica. “He has to give this money back or else he will look like Gray Davis.”
Stutzman said Schwarzenegger will not accept donations from public-employee unions or “single-interest trade organizations.”
Schwarzenegger is among the candidates with two committees: one to tout his candidacy and a separate committee to urge that voters recall Davis. Although candidates can spend unlimited sums on their own campaigns, state law restricts donors to giving no more than $21,200 directly to candidates. Contributors can give unlimited sums to a recall committee. So far, home builder William Lyon of Newport Beach is the one major donor to Schwarzenegger’s recall committee, having given it $100,000. Lyon is a donor to GOP campaigns.
Campaign finance statements reflecting money raised since June 30 are supposed to be filed with the California secretary of state on Thursday. Those filings will show the money that candidates and the various recall committees have in the bank, an important barometer of a campaign’s health. Sixteen committees have been formed so far to support and oppose the recall.
Additionally, interest groups can spend money in campaigns that are independent of the candidates. No independent expenditure committee specifically for the recall has been established.
Campaign finance expert Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said spending on the recall will fall short of the $100 million predicted in recent weeks, largely because of the attention that the news media are giving to the campaign. Given that level of interest, high-cost television ads, which could run $2 million a week for a major statewide buy, will be less important.
“This is what reformers want: more free media, more interest and more discussion of an election,” Stern said.
Following Schwarzenegger in the challengers’ money race is Ueberroth, who has given himself $1 million and raised $1.2 million more. Ueberroth has said he expects his campaign to cost about $10 million and that he would probably donate about a third of that himself.
In the first weeks of the campaign, he has tapped business partners who have joined him in resuscitating faltering businesses. Those donors include John H. Myers, president of GE Asset Management in New York, and his wife, Joann, who each gave $21,200.
About 20% of Ueberroth’s donations have come from out of state, mostly New York and its suburbs. Many of those contributors work in the financial world. But $700,000 has come from Orange County, where he lives. Donors include Bren, sports agent Jeffrey Moorad and William H. Roos, head of the Newport Beach-based Pimco investment funds.
“He is a no-nonsense, get-it-done problem solver,” said William Thompson, Pimco chief executive. “He has no ax to grind.”
Thompson, asserting that Ueberroth’s relatively low standing in the polls is irrelevant at this point in the freewheeling campaign, said: “I realize it’s an uphill battle, but anything’s possible in this day and age. I’d like to help give him a chance.”
Bustamante, the sole big-name Democrat on the ballot, is urging that Californians vote “no” on the recall. He is also urging that voters support him in case Davis is dumped.
In a fund-raising appeal, however, one of Bustamante’s supporters is urging in an invitation to an event next month in San Jose that donors contribute to “help elect Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.” The invitation makes no mention of opposing the Davis recall.
The event is being sponsored by the Silicon Valley Latino Democratic Forum, and Pete Carrillo of Silicon Valley Advisors, a real estate consulting concern that has donated $1,000 to Davis. Carrillo said Silicon Valley Advisors is not involved in the fund-raising.
Other Bustamante donors have also given to Davis in the past. Sacramento trial attorney and real estate owner Morton Friedman and his wife, Marcine, have held fund-raisers in their home for Davis, and were among a group of donors who accompanied Davis on a 1999 trip to the Middle East. But in this campaign, the Friedmans have given Bustamante a combined $21,000.
And Bustamante is tapping unions, which have been among Davis’ most reliable donors. A major local of the Operating Engineers based in Alameda gave $21,200 to Bustamante. The local gave Davis nearly $800,000 in his first term. The local is doing much of the work rebuilding the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, a multibillion-dollar state-funded effort that got underway during Davis’ first term.
“Oh, no; oh, no, we are vehemently opposed to the recall of Gov. Gray Davis,” Cindy Tuttle, spokeswoman for the local, said when asked if the union was switching allegiance. “But people have two votes in this election.... We want them to vote ‘no’ on the recall and, if they choose to exercise their second vote, we want them to vote for Cruz Bustamante.”
Bustamante, who hopes to receive large donations from Indian tribes that operate casinos, received his first major contribution from a tribe last weekend: $321,000 from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, in San Diego County. But the band sent the bulk of it, $300,000, to Bustamante’s old lieutenant governor campaign committee.
Sycuan spokesman Adam Day said Bustamante’s campaign requested that the donation be deposited into the old account. Some of the money can be transferred into Bustamante’s committees established to advance his candidacy and to oppose the recall.
Bustamante’s campaign aides did not return phone calls from The Times.
The one other current state office holder seeking to replace Davis is Republican state Sen. McClintock of Thousand Oaks. McClintock has never been a major money-raiser but he hopes for more success in the recall campaign.
As of Monday, he had raised $388,500 since entering the race to replace Davis.
“We think we need $4 million to run the race we want,” said McClintock’s finance director, Sean Doherty. “And we’ll get it.”
Among McClintock’s donors is Ron Unz, a millionaire sponsor of the successful 1998 state initiative to restrict bilingual education. Unz, a Republican, contributed $2,000 to McClintock, saying he is appalled by the number of celebrities and millionaires essentially buying public offices.
“You could put me in that category too,” said Unz, chairman of a software firm. “But I think it’s a very unhealthy thing if the only people who can run are people who can afford to write checks or have celebrity.”
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Campaign money trail
These contributors have given the maximum donations -- $21,200 -- to the following candidates:
For Arnold Schwarzenegger
Katherine H. Alden
Barratt Mortgage Co.
David G. Booth
Suzanne D. Booth
Susan T. Buffett
Warren E. Buffett
Christopher Cox Congressional Committee
Douglas E. Barnhart Inc.
Timothy C. Draper
William H. Draper
Fld Interests c/o Fritz Duda Co.
David W. Fleming
Paul F. Folino
Food 4 Less
Hilmar Cheese Co. Inc.
Hitchcock Automotive Resources
D.L. Horowitz / Horowitz Brothers 1975 Trust
Gerald L. Katell
Willa Dean Lyon
The New Majority Pac
Maria O. Shriver 1991 Trust
For Peter V. Ueberroth
Donald R. Beall
Joan F. Beall
Vicki U. Booth
William D. Booth
Daniel V. Inc.
James L. Easton
Phyllis F. Easton
William P. Foley II
J. Stuart Francis
David W. Hanna
Virginia L. Hanna
Nancy S. Kelleher
Richard M. Kelleher
Labor Relations Services Inc.
Paul C. Leach
Douglas J. Mackenzie
Charles D. Miller
Michael C. Mount
Joann B. Myers
John H. Myers
Nancy E. Thompson
William S. Thompson
Gail L. Ueberroth
John A. Ueberroth
For Tom McClintock
Residential Contractors Assn.
For Cruz Bustamante
Klein Financial Corp.
Northern California Carpenters Regional Council Small Contributor Committee
Operating Engineers Local No. 3 Statewide Pac
Pacific Spanish Network Inc.
Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters CLIC of Southern California
Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation
Source: California secretary of state. Compiled by Maloy Moore.
Los Angeles Times