By Eric Longabardi | NB Indy
With the June primary next Tuesday, big-money contributors are setting their sights – and their cash – on the local 74th Assembly District race among Republicans Leslie Daigle and Allan Mansoor and Democrat Bob Rush.
Last month alone, state financial disclosures show large influxes of money in support of 74th Assembly race candidates.
Daigle, a Newport Beach City Council member, tops the list with about $500,000 coming into her treasury. Mansoor, an incumbent in the previous district, received $30,000 in the same period. Democrat Bob Rush hasn’t received anything, according to campaign disclosure records.
The sources of the money are proving to be as varied and interesting as the candidates themselves.
The two biggest deep-pocket funders are Santa Clara-based Republican Party chair Charles Munger Jr., whose political action committee, Spirit of Democracy California, supports Daigle; and Howard Ahmanson Jr., who is supporting Mansoor via the Orange County Republican Party and directly.
The only thing the two men seem to have in common in this race is their “junior” status to their multi-millionaire “senior” fathers. Munger is a Republican and, in an interesting twist, Ahmanson is a former Republican, turned Democrat in 2009.
Daigle made a point of that in an interview this week, describing the late influx of money into the race.
“It is a mystery that a registered Democrat is providing financial backing for a Republican and a Democrat in the same race.”
Daigle says Ahmanson is paying for attack ads against her, telling the Independent: “Are you aware Mr. Ahmanson is also funding an IE (independent expenditure) for Robert Rush. Have you asked Mr. Ahmanson for his justification to fund a candidate with very different social views?”
Daigle’s reference to “social views” is in relation to Ahmanson reportedly being a long-time Christian fundamentalist, while Rush is pro-choice.
The bulk of the last-minute cash influx is coming via independent expenditures – money spent on behalf of or against a candidate by people or groups with no connection to the any candidate’s official campaign committee. Under state Fair Political Practices Commission rules, these expenditures must be made completely “independent” of the candidate – no coordination can take place between the candidates or their campaigns and the entity that makes the independent expenditure.
Campaign disclosure records show Daigle has been the biggest benefactor of last-minute dollars. Since May 14, she has received $325,000 from Munger’s Spirit of Democracy California PAC. It funded a rash of last-minute TV spots supporting Daigle and attacking fellow Republican Mansoor.
When asked why Munger is throwing his considerable financial clout into her campaign and funding a well-produced media onslaught at this late hour, Daigle responded by emailing (sic): “honestly don’t know why mr munger supported my candidacy. i’ve never met him. … i’m not aware of any financial interest that charles munger has in state government. it seems more likely that because of his personal wealth and where he has chosen to spend it politically, that he wants to reduce the influence of true economic interests who feed off of sacramento.”
Meanwhile, Mansoor has found support from Newport Beach-based Christian philanthropist Howard Ahmanson Jr. Ahmanson is a former Republican who turned Democrat in 2009, and is heir to the fortune amassed by his father, founder of Home Savings and Loan. An Ahmanson group has provided $15,000 in funding to the Orange County GOP. Daigle says those funds are being used to pay for attack ads against her, to help Mansoor and Rush. According to state records, Ahmanson also directly supported Mansoor in May for smaller amounts.
No records could be found that show any support for Rush.
Mansoor’s chief of staff, Chad Morgan, said, “I think Leslie is grasping at straws at this point,” adding, “Allan has a lot of bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats.”
Despite being a recently converted Democrat, Ahmanson has been a major backer of what political types would call “right-leaning” campaigns and causes. Most recently, Ahmanson helped provide substantial funding to Prop. 8, the 2008 state initiative approved by voters that sought to ban same-sex marriage.
It seems the only person in the race that doesn’t seem to be picking up any serious last minute cash is Democrat Bob Rush, who contributed $99,000 to his own campaign.
To see for yourself where all the money is coming from and where its going and review the state’s up-to-the-minute financial records, visit cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Campaign/Candidates/#assembly