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Special interests drop $1 billion in California

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 at 5:21 pm in campaign finance.

Labor unions, pharmaceutical companies and Indian tribes have contributed the most money to political campaigns and paid the highest in lobbying activities in California since 2000, according to an analysis unveiled today by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Called “Big Money Talks,” the report illustrates how the top 15 special interest groups spent more than $1 billion in the past decade. (Click here to read the full report.)

The list includes six corporations, three Indian tribes, labor unions and four business associations.

“The message from special interests is unmistakable, that they are willing to spend millions of dollars to protect their narrow interests,” said FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson. “The spending also serves as a warning to officeholders: ‘Don’t forget, we can use our money to help or hurt you. Think about it.’ ”

Here’s the Top 10:

1. California Teachers Association: $211.8 million

2. California State Council of Service Employees: $107.4 million

3. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $104.9 million

4. Morongo Band of Mission Indians: $83.6 million

5. Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians: $69.2 million

6. Pacific Gas and Electric Company: $69.2 million

7. Chevron Corp.: $66.2 million

8. AT&T: $59.6 million

9. Phillip Morris USA: $50.7 million

10. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians: $49 million

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  • Ralph Hoffmann

    “A Billion here, a Billion there, …”

  • Mike F.

    Simply amazing. The FPPC document seems to be a good read. I used to be in a union that allowed me to opt out of the political portion of the dues; it charged only the dues related to collective bargining. I’ll bet teachers or SEIU members don’t get that option. If a tribe can spend money, could another State or municpality do the same? I wonder. If I’m a shareholder of those companies and they don’t make me a profit, then I’d want to know why it was necessary for them to spend such cash.

  • danvilledan

    Mike F., being a good union man should Google.

    “Communication Workers v. Beck”

  • Mike F.

    Danville Dan, thanks for the reference. I did look it up – very interesting. The union I belong to was very up-front with their activities and kept our dues to a minimum, we paid no more than $40 and if we opt’d out of the political portion we got a reduction of approx. $5. My wife is in a union and contributes far more than I did, but they’ve never made mention of this option. This just adds more to my the wonderment of my comment. How many union members don’t realize or are told of this option?

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    I ain’t never seen an Indian in the Golden State, so how did the bands come up with $$$?