New in CW 11.02.06
|Parties use county, state committees to skirt donation caps|
Democrats and Republicans, legally exploiting a loophole in California law, have funneled more than $10 million in oversized contributions through a network of county and state committees to skirt around voter-approved contribution limits.
In the biannual money shuffle, donors--both well-heeled interest groups and legislators looking to curry favor--are giving to multiple committees, sometimes shifting, indirectly, more than $100,000 into candidate coffers, despite a $3,300 legal limit on direct contributions.
For example, during the last 40 days, more than a half-dozen Assembly Democrats, from Santa Cruz to Fresno to Eureka, have donated at least $27,900 to an obscure political committee in Stanislaus County.
That money, in turn, was packaged into six-figure chunks and passed on to the handful of Democratic candidates--sometimes hundreds of miles away--locked competitive races on the November 7 ballot.
The process repeated itself in San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Sacramento.
In the half-dozen competitive legislative races in California, such party-given money often comprises a majority of all funding in the campaign.
Campaigns use unlimited cash despite contribution limits
With warm images of Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, driving a tractor, embracing his family and throwing a baseball to a young boy, the television ad that aired last month in the Central Valley had all the hallmarks of a campaign advertisement.
"When he votes, he's always thinking about our families," the ad said.
But technically it was not a campaign ad for Denham.
Pioneering a new loophole in California's campaign-finance law, Republican political operatives have used state and local GOP committees to create thinly guised issue ads that never are reported as political spending on behalf of a legislative candidate.