Here are the mega-donors and police unions pouring millions into the L.A. County district attorney race

More than $14 million has been pumped into November’s contentious Los Angeles County district attorney race, with donors lining up on opposing sides of a stark ideological divide between incumbent Jackie Lacey and challenger George Gascón.

Spending in the race has intensified recently, with New York billionaire George Soros and Bay Area philanthropist Patty Quillin each putting $1.5 million behind Gascón. Quillin and her husband, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, have helped Gascón maintain a fundraising lead over Lacey, who has millions of dollars in support from law enforcement unions up and down the state.

Total contributions

Photo of Jackie Lacey
Jackie Lacey Incumbent district attorney
$6.8 million
Photo of George Gascón
George Gascón Former S.F. district attorney
$7.3 million

Campaign consultants say the high dollar figures highlight the stakes in the race, which has for some become the latest battleground in the larger nationwide debate over police reform.

Lacey is seeking her third term in office. She and her supporters have warned that a Gascón victory would lead to increases in crime. Their campaign spending is going toward ads portraying Gascón as soft on crime, citing his support for sentencing reforms and reduced jail populations.

Gascón is seeking to harness the momentum of the police reform movement and the protests that swept America this summer. He has promised a raft of reforms if elected, and advertisements funded by his supporters cast Lacey as an obstacle to change.

Distinct groups fuel each side

Because of limits on how much money can be contributed directly to the candidates’ campaigns, the vast majority of the funding in the contest has come from Super PACs, which are not subject to contribution limits.

On Gascón’s side, a set of wealthy advocates, mainly concentrated in the Bay Area, have contributed a majority of the funds. Lacey’s campaign is boosted primarily by law enforcement unions.

Percentage of total donations

Lacey

73% from law enforcement unions

Gascón

76% from wealthy individuals

For Lacey, the Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs has led the way, joined by contributions from unions representing rank-and-file city police officers and state corrections officers. The San Francisco Police Officers Assn., which warred with Gascón during his tenure as the district attorney there, has also backed Lacey.

Law enforcement unions backing Lacey
Law enforcement unions backing LaceyTotal contributed
Assn. for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs
$1,300,000
California Correctional Peace Officers Assn.
1,001,500
Los Angeles Police Protective League
1,000,000
Peace Officers Research Assn. of California
724,750
Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Assn.
386,500
San Francisco Police Officers Assn.
110,000
California State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police
100,000
San Jose Police Officers' Assn.
65,000
San Bernardino Sheriff's Employees Benefits Assn.
50,000
Long Beach Police Officers Assn.
50,000
Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs Assn.
25,000
Riverside Sheriff's Assn.
25,000
California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen
25,000
San Diego Police Officers Assn.
15,000
Oakland Police Officers' Assn.
15,000
Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Assn.
13,000
Fresno Police Officers Assn.
10,000
California Statewide Law Enforcement Assn.
10,000
Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Assn.
10,000
Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriffs Assn.
5,000
Sacramento Police Officers Assn.
5,000
Los Angeles School Police Assn.
4,700
Santa Monica Police Officers Assn.
3,000
Assn. of Deputy District Attorneys
3,000
Glendale Police Officers Assn.
2,000
Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs
1,500
Huntington Beach Police Officers Assn.
1,500
Newport Beach Police Employees Assn.
1,000
Corona Police Officers Assn.
1,000

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A majority of the money backing Gascón has come in the form of six- and seven-figure checks from wealthy individuals who favor criminal justice reform. Some of the largest contributors have funded past efforts to reform California’s criminal justice system and have backed progressive challengers to local prosecutors in other major cities, sometimes unsuccessfully.

While Gascón has attracted support from Angelenos, much of his money comes from progressives based in the Bay Area with ties to tech companies such as Netflix, Facebook, Instagram and Google. Their support may be due, in part, to Gascón’s ties to the region. He grew up in Southern California and served in the LAPD before earning a reputation as a reformer in his time as San Francisco’s police chief and then district attorney.

Wealthy individuals backing Gascón
Wealthy individuals backing GascónTotal contributed
Patty Quillin Philanthropist and wife of Reed Hastings
$1,503,000
George Soros Democratic mega-donor and founder of Open Society Foundations
1,500,000
Elizabeth D. Simons Chair of the Heising-Simons Foundation
785,000
Reed Hastings Netflix CEO and husband of Patty Quillin
500,000
M. Quinn Delaney Founder of Akonadi Foundation
428,000
Cari Tuna Open Philanathropy co-founder
225,000
Susan Pritzker Part of Hyatt hotels founding family
191,500
Nicole Shanahan ClearAccess IP founder and CEO
150,000
Kaitlyn Krieger Co-founder of the Future Justice Fund
144,000
Kate Capshaw Actress and Democratic donor
50,000
David Mills Stanford Law School professor and husband of Anne Devereux-Mills
28,000
Anne Devereux-Mills Parlay House founder; worked to pass Three Strikes reform in California
28,000
Anne Rosenbaum Irwin Founder of Smart Justice California
13,000

The shifting momentum

Gascón narrowly forced a November runoff, holding Lacey under the threshold she needed to end the contest in March’s primary election.

Now, following large-scale protests over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, Lacey has lost the support of some prominent local politicians, including Rep. Adam Schiff and L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti, and Gascón is seeing a surge in fundraising.

In recent weeks, Gascón's supporters have outpaced the coalition backing Lacey, and the challenger has taken a fundraising lead.

Cumulative fundraising total