Yesterday the subscriber-only political almanac California Target Book reported that spending by all independent expenditure committees (IECs) on legislative races in the general election had topped $41 million. That brought the year’s total of outside money for state Assembly and Senate seats, including primary races, to $70 million.
Under state law, an independent expenditure committee can funnel unlimited amounts of money from corporations, nonprofits and wealthy donors, as long as it does not coordinate spending activity with candidates, who are under strict, albeit voluntary campaign limits. Next week Bill Raden will report on the unprecedented amount of contributions made by California’s charter school lobbies to influence nearly three-dozen state Assembly and Senate races, along with several local school board elections.
Co-published by The Nation
Ordinary working people, especially the young and people of color, have been so much and for so long exploited in Arizona that for many, labor and political activism have become lifelong governing passions, not just a matter of phone-banking on a weekend or two in an election season. Their long misfortunes have galvanized labor into becoming a voter registration powerhouse and a formidable organizer in the fielding of candidates.
The phone bank on Florence Avenue near Western is fully staffed on a Thursday afternoon. Its 20 callers could be hawking solar paneling or copper water pipes to anyone who answers. Instead, the men and women here are selling change in the most populous city in the most populous state in the nation. On this day, shortly before the election, they are contacting potential voters about three of California’s 17 ballot propositions.
For two decades businessman Bill Bloomfield has poured millions of dollars into political campaigns, and supported George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. He has also used his personal wealth to back former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the gubernatorial effort of GOP candidate Meg Whitman.