Friday, June 20, 2008

Report: Hancock-Chan race in top 10 for attracting independent expenditures

SACRAMENTO — Independent expenditures for the state's 9th Senate District primary between Assemblywoman Loni Hancock and ex-Assemblywoman Wilma Chan cracked the top 10 in dollars spent among this year's state primary races, the Fair Political Practices Commission reported Thursday.

Overall, outside groups participating in June 3 races spent $11.8 million — more than three-fourths of which went to the top 10 races. The total for all outside spending has reached $99.9 million since Proposition 34, the ballot measure that imposed limits on campaign contributions, was approved in 2000.

Such spending, however, defeated the purpose of the legislation, the commission's chairman said.

"Since independent expenditure committees can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money," Ross Johnson said, "this trend thwarts the will of the voters who imposed contribution limits on candidates."

"The real losers in this explosive growth of independent expenditures are the voters of California," Johnson said, "because independent expenditure committees are getting better at masking the true source of their contributions."

In the Hancock-Chan race, outside groups spent a combined $638,578 — with by far the most being spent on behalf of Chan, the former Oakland lawmaker who lost to Hancock 56.7 percent to 43.3 percent. Expenditures on Chan's behalf totaled $504,838, compared with $133,740 for Hancock.

The largest single amount spent Advertisementfor Chan, $161,442, came from the Education Leaders for High Standards — primarily funded by a political action committee called the California Tribal Business Alliance Independent Expenditure PAC. EdVoice Independent Expenditure, one of the top overall outside spenders, contributed $10,000 to the committee.

The largest single contribution made for Hancock — $48,023 — came from the Professional Engineers in California Government PAC.

The race that tops the list for attracting outside spending was the one in the 25th Senate District, where independent groups spent $1.8 million — of which $1.475 million was laid out for the eventual winner, former Los Angeles Assemblyman Rod Wright, who defeated incumbent Assemblyman Mervin Dymally, D-Los Angeles.

The three-way primary race in the 3rd Assembly District between Sen. Carold Migden, D-San Francisco; Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco; and former Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-Marin, produced the second-largest independent expenditure — $1.445 million.

Leno, who won convincingly, had the least spent on his behalf ($95,872), while Nation, who came in last, had the most spent for him ($503,822) and the most spent against him ($466,450).

The commission report also identified the top independent expenditure committees and showed that some avoided high profiles by contributing their money to other groups.

EdVoice Independent Expenditure Committee spent the third largest total, at $955,500, but all of its money was given to other independent expenditure committees. All of the contributions to the EdVoice committee were from wealthy donors. The two largest contributions were $294,400 from venture capitalist John Doerr and $288,800 from Netflix Chairman Reed Hastings.

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