Wu: Out-of-town donations are pretty common

May 21, 2012|By Jack Wu

Palo Alto physicist Charles Munger Jr. has jumped into the 74th District Assembly race.

Not as a candidate. (The field still includes Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle and Newport real estate investor Bob Rush.)

But as a donor. As of May 15, Munger had made $726,826.20 in contributions to an independent expenditure committee to support Daigle.


Someone from Northern California is spending three quarters of a million bucks to support a Newport council member in a Southern California Assembly race?

Does that sound normal to you? Does that raise some questions in your mind?

But candidates receiving help from, or getting attacked by, an independent expenditure committee is nothing new. In fact, it happens every election cycle in Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.

The 2008 Newport Beach council race saw two such groups raise quite a bit of money to do just that.

I was the spokesman for a group that raised more than $100,000, including $50,000 from Rush, to attack Councilman Steve Rosansky.

For five weeks, this committee blanketed the city in mailers to tell the voters why Rosansky shouldn't be re-elected. He still won.

Also in 2008, Newport Beach businessman Jack Croul poured in $250,000 in an effort to get Mayor Pro Tem Keith Curry unseated. Guess what? Curry still won.

Say what you want about those efforts, at least the money to attack the Newport Beach council members came from Newport residents, people who were willing to spend lots of dollars to exercise their right to free speech.

But these committees getting money from out of town is not unusual either. For instance, in my ill-fated, ill-conceived 2006 Newport Beach council race, the committee that hit me raised a majority of its funds from a Laguna Beach donor, who may have not known the players in the race, may not have known our positions, party affiliations, or even our names.

So seeing a committee in this Assembly race was not unexpected, as even I had heard rumors of potential groups who were going to jump into this fray, but all of them were local, and I never would have imagined someone from Palo Alto would have had this much interest in this race.

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