$13 Million More In Meg Money

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Photo: Getty Images

There's a powerful scene in the Oscar winning Forrest Gump that came to mind when the report surfaced tonight showing Meg Whitman has written her campaign a new check for $13 million, bringing her personal investment in the governor's race to a mind numbing $104 million.

The scene: Gump's pal Lt. Dan -- played by Gary Sinise -- climbs to the top of his fishing boat's rigging in the middle of a wild hurricane and screams, "You call this a storm?"

In my mind, Hurricane Carmen is Meg Whitman. And Lt. Dan is Jerry Brown.

Even in today's never-ending news cycle, campaigns like to deep six certain stories until Friday evenings. And so it was with the six page campaign report that popped up online tonight, a document listing 13 contributions and... on the final page... $13 million from Margaret C. Whitman, "retired business executive."

Whitman now appears just a stone's throw away (so to speak) from the all-time record for self-financing in a single campaign: the $108 million NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent on winning a third term in 2009.

At first glance, it was hard to miss the fact that the $13 million check was made public as one of 13 contributions on the 13th of August.

Team Whitman offered a different explanation.

"Meg is investing the necessary resources to fight the $13 million in attacks Jerry Brown Inc. has launched to defend the status quo in Sacramento," said an email from spokesperson Sarah Pompei. "She will continue discussing her plans to create jobs with Californians across the state."

Pompei's referring to the independent labor union campaign (her numbers aren't immediately verifiable elsewhere) that's made sure Whitman didn't have the airwaves to herself this summer. That effort is launching a new -- and very personal -- attack on the GOP nominee this weekend, with a TV ad that directly attacks her wealth and settlements in two separate lawsuits related to her work experience.

It's futile to resist the urge to put the $104 million into some context:

New Mexico just found out it's getting an extra $104 million for Medicaid recipients.

BP had paid out $104 million to Gulf residents hit hard by the oil disaster as of June 19.

It's slightly more than the cost to make the movie Gladiator (okay, so those are year 2000 dollars).

As for Jerry Brown, his campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford offered the following:

"Meg Whitman continues to pour unprecedented millions into a campaign of unprecedented dishonesty. Her ads have been proven false, her trickle-down tax breaks for the super rich are a proven failure, and the late night disclosure is all about keeping voters in the dark."

So far, Brown's been pretty lucky. On our Capital Notes Podcast today, we went so far as to call him the "winner" this summer, given how he's held tight with Whitman in the polls, even after being hugely outspent.

Several Dems picked up on -- and trumpeted -- our assessment. But in truth, any Brown victory in these dog days of summer has largely been due to his ability to avoid errors, as well as Whitman's inability to land any real damaging blows.

There's no guarantee that will last, especially when it comes to the scrutiny; look no further than today's well researched piece by the Orange County Register on Brown's mysteriously large government pension.

We'll see how the money narratives -- for both candidates -- play out next week. In the meantime, for us reporters this campaign is living up to another famous part of this posting's theme flick... one of Mama Gump's favorite sayings:

"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

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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.
  • SKip

    Is this woman desperate to be Governor or what? Whay would anyone spend so much of their own wealth to put themselves in that position? You’d have to be crazy……maybe she is?

  • Let It Bleed

    Definitions of meg – alomaniac:

    a pathological egotist
    Megalomania is a non-clinical word defined as: # A psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence. # An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.
    Meg – alomaniac


  • Desi

    I wish if she really is a good candidate that she would use her money for some advertising and then put some towards helping out state!Arnold could do that too- if they downsized their way of living just a little and helped pay our debt it would be such a great thing. I would definitely vote for Meg if she did that! Do like Teddy Roosevelt and live amongst the people-you would appreciate the fact that we have a budget and be a responsible state.The money is in all the wrong hands and when the middle class really does dissapear you will see how crime goes up!