LOS ANGELES – Nearly one-fifth of the $64 million Gov. Gray Davis has raised for his re-election has been donated by people he appointed to state boards and commissions, according to a report published Sunday.
At least 75 of the roughly 140 boards with statewide authority include at least one Davis donor, while many have a majority who are contributors and some are filled exclusively with political donors, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of campaign finance records.
More than 240 Davis appointees have donated directly or through spouses, close business associates and corporate and union employers. In several cases, appointees have given Davis money within weeks or days of receiving their new post. In some cases, donations were reported on the same day Davis made the appointments, the Times reported.
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that people who are active in politics are going to want to serve on boards and commissions,” said Davis campaign spokesman Roger Salazar.
He dismissed questions about the timing of campaign checks and appointments. “It’s making a connection that doesn’t exist,” he said.
Several Davis appointees said making contributions helped them to get noticed by the governor.
“If you’re someone who has been financially supportive, they know who you are,” said Norm Pattiz, who was named to the Board of Regents last October.
Most of the appointees get little or no pay, but the positions can provide prestige within their fields. In addition, part-time board members help oversee state agencies and departments, and many cast votes affecting how tax money gets spent. Some also decide which companies are awarded state contracts.
“It’s dynamite,” said Hollywood nightclub owner Gene La Pietra, a former parks commissioner who gave $80,000 to the governor this year.
“You get access,” he said. “You get things done. ... It is a prestige booster.”
Although there is no estimate of the donations given to past governors by their appointees, Davis has received a substantial amount more from the UC Regents than former Gov. Pete Wilson.
Wilson received $138,700 during his first term from six of the 13 people he nominated for the board. Davis’ appointees have donated nearly 10 times that sum, or $1.3 million, either directly or through affiliated companies, during his first term, the Times said.