$1 Billion from 15 Organizations

Group $ Spent
CTA $211,849,298
SEIU State Council $107,467,272
PhRMA $104,912,997
Morongo Band $83,600,438
Pechanga Band $69,298,909
PG&E $69,240,759
Chevron $66,257,132
AT&T Inc. $59,619,677
Philip Morris USA $50,756,360
Agua Caliente Band $49,078,448
SoCal Edison  $43,412,031
CA Hospital Assoc $43,281,456
CalChamber $39,065,861
Western States Petro. Assoc $35,214,325
Aera Energy LLC $34,671,163

Over the past decade, The California Teachers Association, SEIU, and PhARMA lead the way in spending since 2000. They are closely followed by a bunch of casino tribes, corporations (Chevron, AT&T, PG&E, Philip Morris, Southern Cal-Ed) and the usual list of corporate types. You can get the full report from the FPPC (PDF). The top 15 spenders spent over $1 Billion.

I’m not sure what to say specifically about this list. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that there is this much money slopping around the political system. Given our initiative system and the money spent lobbying, in some cases I’m surprised the numbers are this low.

Quite frankly, there is no answer for this.  Under the current Supreme Court precedent, we are pretty much out of ways to deal with money. Oh sure, clean money will be enormously helpful, but the fact is that we now have two legislatures. One gets its money from lobbyists, the other in the form of signature gatherers and 30 second spots.

So, at this point people who are vaguely left-leaning are left to hope that the Teachers Assoc. and SEIU will support good policy, because the money from Chevron and PG&E isn’t likely to be headed in the right direction.

Prop 15 will certainly help, but the level of reform that we need goes so far beyond just clean money. So, first step clean money, next step initiative reform, repealing Buckley v Valeo, robust federal campaign finance laws, limiting direct and indirect spending, and the list goes on…

4 thoughts on “$1 Billion from 15 Organizations”

  1. You need to differentiate between federal and state here in California, where Citizens United has no effect (Bob Stern, cgs.org). Corporations can already give to IE’s with abandon.

    PFC’s will change the culture, so much so that we have no idea how until we actually experience it. While IE’s in Arizona went down 60% when PFC’s came in, here PFC’s may not have the same effect because IE’s increased 6000% in the last ten years and we’re so used to them.

    Prop 15 seems to have no opposition, and right now this is the only thing going for it because the “campaign” for Prop 15 is invisible. This is owing to the poor management by Trent Lange, who’s run off ED’s, staff members, board members and development directors, losing money left and right. A heartless human being, he fired the director of the campaign when she got stomach cancer.

    How disgusting.

    You are right, we also need initiative reform and repeal of the 2/3 funding requirement.

    Until then, we are sunk as a state.

  2. Organizations spend money in politics for the benefit of their members.  They do not spend it in the public interest.  In some rare cases, the public interest and the interest of their members are somewhat related.  CTA is a teachers association.  They spend money on behalf of teachers.  Teachers educate kids and that is in the public interest.  But (putting aside the talking points for a moment) CTA spends their money to help teachers get more jobs, better jobs, better benefits, better penions, better working conditions.  SEIU does the same thing. The Indians spend their money for more and better casinos for their exclusive profits.  PGE, ATT, Chevron, Philip Morris all spend money to benefit their shareholders.  Do I like teachers more than shareholders?  I guess.  But some teachers are also shareholders.  Left-leaning, right-leaning.  It all depends on the spin you’re after.  All of this money goes to extract more money from taxpayers (or prevent money from being extracted).

    Prop 15 would collect approximately $6 million from lobbyists and pay it out to candidates who qualify by raising $5 from 7500 people.  I can’t think of many candidates who can or would try to qualify when all of this other money is available by making a few phone calls.  

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