At a restaurant not far from the Capitol on Monday night, Gov. Jerry Brown held a private reception with campaign donors who spend heavily on lobbying to influence him and the Legislature.
A key organizer of the event was Capitol Advocacy, a lobbying firm whose clients include PepsiCo, Corrections Corporation of America, T-Mobile USA Inc., WellCare Health Plans and the Fox Entertainment Group.
The invitation, obtained by The Times, suggested a $5,000 contribution to Brown's reelection account from those attending the reception at Mulvaney's B&L. It promised a "private reception and sit-down conversation" with Brown and instructed guests to send checks to his Oakland campaign office.
Sarah Swanbeck, a representative of California Common Cause, said the event illustrates how special interests in Sacramento parlay campaign contributions into special access to politicians.
"Obviously someone who wrote a $100 check [to the Brown campaign] is not being afforded the same access,'' Swanbeck said.
John Latimer, founder of Capitol Advocacy, declined to comment on the event.
Many of his firm's clients made contributions to Brown before the election, according to campaign reports filed with the state. The Pacific Compensation Insurance Co., which provides workers' compensation insurance coverage, gave $5,000 in September. SolarCity, a renewable energy company, pitched in $10,000 the next month.
Candidates are not allowed to continue raising money for their reelection accounts after the election except to settle debt incurred during the campaign, according to a spokesman for the state Fair Political Practices Commission. Dan Newman, a spokesman for Brown's campaign, said Brown has not been raising money since Nov. 4.
Newman said the invitation was sent in early October, but the reception was scheduled for Monday night, two weeks after the election, "to accommodate busy schedules."
As of Oct. 18, the governor still had nearly $21 million in his reelection account, according to his most recent campaign filings. The next reports, covering spending in the final weeks of the campaign, are due Feb. 2.
Brown's prolific fundraising helped give him an insurmountable edge over his Republican opponent, Neel Kashkari, in the election. Barely campaigning for his fourth term in office, Brown beat Kashkari nearly 60% to 40%.
Before the election, Brown said he might use leftover money for ballot-measure campaigns over the next four years, to "overcome whatever infirmities lame-duck governors might ordinarily suffer from."