Statewide fundraising hits record $550 million for ’06

Times Staff Writer

California’s political fundraising has topped $550 million this year, easily shattering the record, as oil and tobacco companies spend vast sums to defeat two ballot measures.

The amount being raised and spent on the election won’t be known until January, when campaigns file final reports for 2006. But a daily running total from reports filed with the secretary of state places the number at $570 million.

That figure includes some double-counting, as officeholders and political parties receive donations and transfer money to other candidates.

But campaign contributions conservatively exceed $550 million -- more than the roughly $500 million spent in 1998, when there were numerous big-ticket ballot measures and a gubernatorial campaign.


Leading this year’s big spenders, the oil industry has raised a record-setting $85 million to fight Proposition 87, an initiative that would raise oil taxes to fund alternative energy research and development. Backers of Proposition 87 have raised $50.8 million.

The combined $136 million easily tops the $93 million spent in 1998 on Proposition 5, an initiative to legalize Nevada-style gambling on Indian reservations that was later struck down by courts.

Tobacco companies have raised $61 million to defeat Proposition 86, which would raise tobacco taxes by $2.60 per pack of cigarettes. Backers, led by hospital corporations and anti-tobacco advocates, have raised $14 million.

The governor’s race has cost $120 million: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has spent $40 million. His Democratic challenger, state Treasurer Phil Angelides, has spent $36 million. Angelides’ foe in the June primary, state Controller Steve Westly, spent $43.7 million.

California’s two major political parties are spending heavily as well. The California Republican Party, boosted by Schwarzenegger’s fundraising prowess, had spent $40.3 million as of Oct. 21, and had $4 million in the bank. The California Democratic Party had spent $24.5 million and had $9.1 million as of Oct. 21, reports filed this week show.

“A half-billion dollars hasn’t gotten California any closer to solving any of its challenges,” said Ned Wigglesworth of California Common Cause. “It has been a great investment in voter apathy and the bottom line for big political donors.”

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