Cash Woes For State, Not Campaigns

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As the Legislature reconvenes for its final sprint on issues small and large, a new compilation of campaign finance data shows that almost $61 million was raised in the first six months of 2009 for campaigns near and distant, expenses small and large.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission released the analysis of campaign data this morning. And as the press release from FPPC chairman Ross Johnson points out, there's a lot of cash being raised for things that aren't about the next series of primary and general elections, scheduled for June and November of next year.

"Millions of dollars have been raised for races to be held one, three, or even five years in the future," said Johnson in a a statement. "Many candidates, most of whom are current officeholders, are legally raising money into multiple committees for different offices at the same time."

The reality is that California election law allows candidates to operate several committees at once, and to keep open a campaign committee for an election long past to retire debt.

Of the $61 million raised between January and June 30, $34 million was raised by politicians angling for a statewide office in either 2010 or 2014. That total, not surprisingly, is dominated by the race for governor -- with two GOP candidates, Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, accounting for about $15 million in contributions (some of that their own money).

The next largest category is candidates for the Assembly in 2010, who collectively hauled in more than $12.7 million. That dwarfs the money raised for state Senate races in 2010 in the last six months -- just shy of $4 million.

Also worth noting is that $7.4 million was raised in the first six months of 2009 by sitting officials who are termed out of office, though almost all of that ($6.5 million) was raised by Governor Schwarzenegger's political team in the effort, unsuccessfully, to pass the six budget-related measures on the May 19 ballot.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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