Fueled by activity from the oil industry attempting to influence the cap-and-trade debate, interest groups spent a record of more than $339 million lobbying California government officials last year.
The spending activity to influence elected officials and bureaucrats far exceeds the previous record of $314.7 million in 2015, new lobbying reports show.
Those reports also shed more light on how interest groups have expanded their “scope and sophistication” beyond sending a lobbyist to a public official’s office, according to Jodi Remke, chairwoman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra maintained his large political fundraising lead over five possible challengers in the June 2018 primary, with the incumbent reporting he brought in $4 million last year, according to campaign disclosure reports filed Wednesday.
Becerra, a Democrat, is seeking election as attorney general after he was appointed to the post by Gov. Jerry Brown in December 2016 to serve the remainder of the term of Kamala Harris, who left the office when she was elected to the U.S. Senate.
State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a fellow Democrat, has the second largest campaign fund among candidates for attorney general. He has raised $2 million for the contest and had $1.5 million left in the bank at the end of the year, compared to $3.1 million in cash left in Becerra’s account.
Gavin Newsom remains the dominant front-runner in fundraising in the California gubernatorial campaign, reporting nearly $16.7 million in cash on hand as the year started, according to disclosure documents filed with the state on Wednesday.
That’s more than all his gubernatorial rivals combined, and it’s a notable shift for a candidate who dropped out of the 2010 governor’s race in part because he was a lackluster fundraiser.
Newsom’s cash-on-hand figure is more than double what his nearest Democratic rivals – state Treasurer John Chiang and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – each have in the bank, according to filings at the California secretary of state’s office.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Chiang spent nearly every dollar he raised during the last six months of 2017, according to a campaign financial disclosure statement filed with the California secretary of state’s office on Wednesday.
Chiang, the state’s treasurer, raised $1.3 million and spent $1,264,602 during this reporting period, according to the filing.
It’s a dramatic uptick in spending since he entered the race in mid-2016, and it occurred just before a campaign shake-up intended to reboot a candidacy that has been lagging in the polls.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had more than $5.9 million in the bank at the beginning of the year for his gubernatorial bid, lagging far behind top Democratic rival Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Villaraigosa raised $4.4 million in 2017 and spent more than a quarter of that on his campaign, according to a summary of the campaign finance report he filed with the California secretary of state.
"We set out to make this a two-person race, and we have accomplished that by dramatically increasing our support in the polls, raising over $7 million and laying the foundation for a winning people-powered campaign. We are on track to advance to the general election and win in November,” Villaraigosa campaign spokesman Luis Vizcaino said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox has nearly $2 million on hand as he tries to win one of the top two spots in the June primary, according to a fundraising disclosure report he filed with the California secretary of state’s office on Wednesday.
He reported raising $518,446 in 2017, on top of the $3 million the Rancho Santa Fe businessman donated to his campaign.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein raised $1 million in the final months of 2017 and lent her campaign $5 million, according to a fundraising disclosure filed with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday.
The cash infusions allowed the veteran senator to kick off the year with $9.8 million in the bank.
Feinstein last faced a competitive race in 1994. But she is being challenged this year by a fellow Democrat, state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León. He has not yet disclosed his fundraising efforts to date.