Newport men among state's top 50 donors

Three Newport Beach men are among a list of the top 50 political donors in California over the last decade, according to an online watchdog group.

Coming in at Nos. 8, 18 and 29, respectively, Broadcom founderHenry T. Nicholas III, home design firm Chief Executive William H. Lyon and real estate developer Bruce E. Harrington combined have contributed about $13 million toward state measures, candidates and political parties, according to California Watch.

Both Nicholas and Harrington earned their place on the list mostly through millions in donations during a single campaign cycle to promote measures they were involved in.

Nicholas, a Newport Coast resident, spent nearly $5 million in 2008 backing Proposition 9, also known as Marsy's Law, named after his sister. She was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

Marsy's Law granted more rights to the victims' families and gave them the chance to be notified of court, parole or probation hearings, among other things. He also spent $1.5 million in 2004 supporting a failed proposition to extend the probationary period for teachers before they could attain tenure.

Harrington spent nearly $2 million in 2004 supporting Proposition 69, which allowed authorities to collect DNA from felons and people arrested for other serious crimes. Harrington's younger brother and sister-in-law were brutally murdered in 1980.

Lyon, who founded William Lyon Homes, is the most active. Between 2003 and 2010, he spent about $3.5 million supporting the Republican Party, state Sen. John Campbell (R-Irvine), state Sen. Tom Harman (R-Costa Mesa), and a litany of state initiatives.

Large political donations also came into Newport Beach. No. 3 on the list, Charles T. Munger Jr. of Palo Alto, contributed more than $568,000 to a group backing now-defeated Assembly candidate Leslie Daigle. According to California Watch, Munger has spent more than $14 million in the last decade, with 99% of the money going to successful measures and candidates.

Farther south, Laguna Beach native Anne Earhart has spent more than $1.4 million on progressive state initiatives and Democratic candidates. Earhart, daughter of George Getty and granddaughter of J. Paul Getty, founded the Marisla Foundation, which promoteswomen's healthand environmental activism.

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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