The first day of August means that new campaign finance reports are being made public. And while there's a lot of money out there, there's almost just as much political spin about what the presence-- or lack-- of money really means.
Scores of political action committees, campaigns, and major donors are required to document their financial dealings through the end of June. The documents are a tedious read, but nonetheless give a sense of who has what, and who spent what.
* The campaign machine of Arnold Schwarzenegger is cash poor-- both his ballot measure committee (raised about $8.2 million, about $571,000 left) and his 2006 re-election committee (raised about $2 million, less than $150,000 left). Democrats who want his job have more money on hand: Phil Angelides' main account totals $14.5 million (although he raised only about $4.3 million of that in 2005), and Steve Westly is sitting on about $11.4 million (although a full $10 million came from his own pockets).
* Spin Zone: Angelides' campaign trumpets his totals as "an unprecedented figure for this early stage." Westly's campaign touts the candidate bankrolling his own efforts as reflective of "his commitment to this race." And Schwarzenegger's campaign spokesman says the documents are a month old, and that the governor's California Recovery Team currently has "over $1 million on hand" (he declined to elaborate).
* Nice Work If You Can Get It: Campaign consultants continue to score big... Angelides' gubernatorial campaign reports spending about $433,000 on political consulting, while Schwarzenegger's two campaigns, combined, reported almost $900,000 going to campaign consultants.
* The state Democratic Party reported $5 million in contributions this year, including a former $200,000 loan from ex-Governor Gray Davis that Davis has now forgiven, making it, technically, a contribution.
* Mystery Solved: Labor unions fighting the union dues initiative Proposition 75 now know who bankrolled efforts to get the measure on the ballot. For several months, they have complained that most of the money was coming from a committee that's only required to file disclosures every six months. Now, we know who gave the big bucks to the Small Business Action Committee, which in turn funneled money towards gathering signatures on Prop 75: mortgage company Ameriquest ($250,000) and the California Business Properties Association ($200,000) were the biggest individual donors.