That’s a big chunk of change from a PAC that had only $149,156.47 in the bank at 2008’s end. But it’s an even greater boon for Migden’s legal fund, which finished 2008 with only $1,725.95 in the bank and $127,419.40 in outstanding debts. The only other big contribution the legal fund has received in 2009 was $5,000 back in January from Feysan J. Lodde of San Francisco, the founder and owner of Fairfield-based MV Transportation Inc.
So, who are Californians for a Democratic Majority? The group’s treasurer is Michael Colbruno of Oakland, who is Clear Channel Outdoor’s vice president of public policy; an Oakland Planning Commissioner; a Democratic activist (a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention and an unsuccessful candidate for the Alameda County Democratic Central Commtittee last year); and Migden’s former legislative director. Lists of the PAC’s donors for the 2008 and 2006 election cycles show it has been funded by a variety of labor unions, Democratic officials and business interests.
Colbruno tonight said he’s one of three people who decide how the PAC spends its money; he declined to name the other two without consulting them first, but said they’d agreed it was “worthy to help her (Migden) out with her legal stuff.”
“She’s had a significant and heralded career doing some great work on environmental and civil rights and foster care work,” he said, adding many elected officials run up legal bills “as your opponents make charges against you, and sometimes you need help with those.”
“I suspect she’s still going to be in the game for a while, she was a great legislator,” he said.
It’s not the first time Colbruno has helped Migden out; in 2007, he helped get Clear Channel to donate a bunch of pro-Migden billboards in San Francisco as her re-election campaign was heating up.
Migden’s legal fund certainly has seen a lot of action. California’s Fair Political Practices Commission in 2002 fined her $16,000 for eight violations of campaign-finance law; in 2006 fined her $47,500 for 21 violations; later in 2006 fined her another $47,500 for another 22 violations; and last year fined her $350,000 for 89 violations – the largest single fine in the FPPC’s history. (Thanks to Calitics for the litany.)
Despite admitting all those violations, Migden sued the FPPC last year in federal court, claiming she should be allowed to use $647,000 from her 2000 Assembly re-election campaign for her 2008 state Senate re-election campaign; the FPPC claimed that money became surplus when she left the Assembly and couldn’t legally be used for the 2008 bid. The FPPC countersued, “seeking more than $9 million in damages for her consistent and deliberate failure to follow California’s campaign laws.” A judge issued an injunction letting Migden use the old funds, and the cases finally were settled in October with Migden agreeing to pay $40,000 to resolve allegations of campaign finance regulations.
Migden – who despite accessing her old campaign funds still lost her 3rd State Senate District seat last year to then-Assemblyman and former protégé Mark Leno – now serves on the California Integrated Waste Management Board that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is so hot to eliminate as wasteful (even though its current annual budget of $235.3 million comes all from fees, not the state’s crippled General Fund). Schwarzenegger appointed Migden to the $132,000-a-year board post in December.