California’s Fair Political Practices Commission issued a news release Tuesday saying state lawmakers so far had held more than 250 political fundraisers in Sacramento during 2009, according to information the FPPC culled from items listed in the Daily Bread section of the Capitol Morning Report.
“If a deep-pocket interest provided the maximum solicited contribution to every one of these fundraisers, they would have spent as much as $1,014,270 to attend the events,” FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson said in the release. “And this list does not include any district fundraising events or golf tournaments held by incumbent legislators.”
Most of the events were for 2010 elections but a significant number were for 2012 or 2014 races, he noted. “This trend of seeing contributions made for elections years in the future allows incumbent officeholders to enjoy a tremendous advantage by continually maintaining sizeable war chests — scaring off potential opponents.”
But the spreadsheet accompanying the release didn’t have the incumbents’ names, just the type of accounts for which they were raising money, and the event’s type, date and maximum solicited contribution. So I filed a Public Records Act request for an unredacted spreadsheet including the incumbents’ names, and I received it today.
It shows that, of all the lawmakers in the Bay Area, Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, seems to have kept up the most aggressive fundraising schedule since Jan. 1, all for his 2010 Assembly re-election campaign. He held a Jan. 27 reception asking up to $3,900 a head; a Feb. 26 breakfast asking up to $1,900 a head; a March 16 breakfast asking up to $3,900 a head; an April 24 Pebble Beach golf fundraiser asking up to $3,900 a head; and a June 17th reception asking up to $3,900 a head.
Actually, I think the FPPC might’ve missed a few; I see Swanson held a May 5 luncheon asking $1,000 a head. And perhaps his most ambitious event is yet to come: his annual, two-day “East Coast/West Coast Golf Challenge,” scheduled for Sept. 4-5 at the Paiute Golf Resort in Las Vegas for up to $3,900 a head. Swanson is expecting as many as 70 participants from Washington, D.C. and all over California.
Swanson’s midyear campaign finance report shows he started 2009 with $8,657.79 in his campaign account, and raised $267,594.57 and spent $113,448.32 in the year’s first six months, leaving him with $164,809.49 cash on hand and $19,056.61 in unpaid debts as of June 30.
Swanson in November was re-elected to his 16th Assembly District seat with 87.9 percent of the vote, and 65.5 percent of his district’s registered voters are Democrats compared to 8.3 percent who are Republicans. It’s not as if he’s likely to face a strong challenge in 2010.
He readily acknowledged that when we spoke this afternoon: Although no incumbent should ever take anything for granted, he said, much of the money he spends so much time raising isn’t actually used for his re-election campaign.
“With the state cutbacks, they allow us to use our campaign accounts … to supplement our office budget for supplies and other kinds of things,” he said. “We also use it to contribute to community based organizations – like, for instance, I gave $1,500 to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce event that they did this year to help with their scholarships and community activities.”
Swanson also said he said he wants a big war chest on hand to combat ballot measures he finds objectionable. Next year will see a measure that would create an open-primary election system that Swanson said “challenges the core of democracy,” and there’s talk of measures that would cut the Legislature back to part-time and deny benefits to elected office holders; he’ll spend against all of ‘em, he said.
Of course, that’s not all he spends it on. I dinged him last November for 2007-08 cycle spending that included 128 “meetings and appearances” tabs at East Bay and Sacramento restaurants totaling $7,956.26. A glance at his spending in the first half of this year, though, seems to show less of that sort of thing.
See all the Bay Area lawmakers’ 2009 Sacramento fundraisers as listed by the FPPC, after the jump…