Money flood brings disclosure complaints

We’ve eight days to go until Election Day, and so it’s time for the last big money push – and all the righteous indignation that comes with it.

Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for state attorney general, is miffed that the Virginia-based Republican State Leadership Committee has sunk $1.3 million into an attack ad that started airing Sunday in Los Angeles:

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., issued a statement today reiterating her support for Harris and urging Californians to vote for her: “Together, we can prove that our elected offices can’t be bought by out-of-state shadow groups like the Republican State Leadership Association, which is funded by big oil and tobacco corporations.”

Harris campaign attorney James Sutton told reporters on a conference call this morning that he’ll write to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission today asking that the campaign-finance watchdog look into the ad. Although the ad carries the “not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee” disclaimer required of independent expenditure ads, it doesn’t identify the RSLA’s two biggest donors: Altria Group, the parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Sutton said the RSLA has claimed it’s just an “issue ad” that doesn’t require such disclosure, but the fact that it’s targeting Harris’ San Francisco record and airing only in Los Angeles belies any claim that it’s not related to her statewide candidacy.

(UPDATE @ 11:05 A.M. WEDNESDAY 10/27: The FPPC has dismissed the complaint, finding it didn’t contain enough evidence to allege a violation of the Political Reform Act.)

Sutton also said he has contacted television stations to ask that they pull the ad, and Harris campaign strategist Ace Smith said he’s asking Republican nominee Steve Cooley‘s campaign to denounce the ad and call for its withdrawal.

More campaign finance clashes, after the jump…

In the race for state insurance commissioner, Democratic nominee Dave Jones complains that the insurance industry has sunk another $1.1 million into the JobsPAC independent expenditure committee last Thursday to run ads against him and for Republican nominee Mike Villines; that brings the industry’s total in the past month to $3.7 million. Jones and consumer advocates were protesting this morning outside the Los Angeles headquarters of Mercury Insurance, whose CEO, George Joseph, personally has given $1 million to JobsPAC.

“Californians will not see these insurance companies listed on all the ads about the insurance commissioner race, but they need to know that the insurance companies are desperately trying to buy the office so they can own their regulator,” Harvey Rosenfield, author of the 1988 insurance reform measure Proposition 103 and chairman of the Campaign for Consumer Rights, said in Jones’ news release this morning.

And in the ballot-measure department, Texas-based Valero gave another $1 million Friday night to support Proposition 23, the initiative that would roll back California’s greenhouse-gas emissions law; Valero’s total stake in the measure now stands at almost $5.1 million. Tesoro, the other Texas-based oil company that’s been backing the measure from the get-go, anted up another $500,000, bringing its total so far to more than $2 million.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    You gotta love a DA who won’t seek the death penalty for cop killers, or an illegal alien who shot to death an entire family in a road rage incident.

    Harris should stay in SF where they appreciate that sort of thing.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    DiFi neglected to mention her colleague BaBox CAN be bought by out-of-state lefties.