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Jerry Brown Gives Up $100 Limit to Broaden Base

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday August 15, 2006

A year after Jerry Brown was elected mayor of Oakland, San Francisco publisher Phil Bronstein introduced him at a luncheon of the American Society of Newspaper Editors as a politician who was trying to get big money out of politics. 

“[H]e took over the [California] Democratic Party chairmanship, but quit complaining very bitterly about the influence of money in politics,” Bronstein said of Brown. “In ‘92 he ran for president again, beating Bill Clinton in six state primaries, and was the only other candidate to make it all the way to the convention. In those races, as in his run for mayor of Oakland last year, he refused contributions over $100.” 

Three years later, at a convention of the economic think-tank Miliken Institute in Los Angeles, Brown was asked if he supported the position of Republican Bill Simon, who was running against Gray Davis and attacking the incumbent governor for his massive political fund-raising activities. 

“Obviously,” the Sacramento Bee quoted Brown as saying. “I’m the guy who limits my contributions to $100. I’m definitely concerned about the political process and how it’s become profoundly distorted by money.” 

Running in the November general election for California attorney general, these distortions no longer seem to bother Jerry Brown. The $100 figure is mentioned on Brown’s campaign contribution website ( but only as the lowest suggested donation amount. 

An analysis reveals that in the two months between June 10 and Aug. 10, Brown collected $658,000 in contributions of $5,000 or more. Of those, 55 came from individuals contributing between $5,000 and the legal individual limit of $5,600 to Brown’s attorney general campaign. In the same period, Brown’s Republican opponent collected $167,525 in contributions of $5,000 or more. 

As of last week, Brown had collected $4.473 million since the first of 2005, with $4.4 million on hand as of the end of May. In contrast, Poochigian had collected $2.2 million in contributions since January of 2005, with $3.2 million on hand as of the end of May. 

A recent Field Poll shows that Brown’s lead in the opinion polls mirrors his lead in fund-raising, with Brown preferred over Poochigian 54 percent to 33 percent by Californians likely to vote in the November election. 

The analysis shows that Brown’s financial support is broad-based, with large contributions coming from unions, corporate interests, law enforcement associations and law corporations, and casino interests, as well as individuals. That ability to attract money from both ends of the political spectrum is evident in the mayor’s contributions from two widely varied state political action committees in the past two months: Brown received $5,600 apiece from Oakpac, the Oakland political fund that promotes business interests, and the Los Angeles County Council on Political Education, an AFL-CIO-based fund which said its purpose was “promoting working families issues” in its filing papers with the state as a political action committee. 

Brown’s single largest interest group support in the last two months was from unions, from which he took in $192,300, the largest coming from labor organizations connected with the building trades industry. Brown has led a residential building boom in Oakland during his two terms as mayor, a policy that has benefited building trades unions. 

Meanwhile, Brown’s most controversial contributions came from gambling interests, with $16,800 from casinos, and another $5,600 from the California Tribal Business Alliance State Candidate PAC. 

The fight over control of California’s gambling industry between the traditional card clubs and the Native American-sponsored tribal land casinos has grown into enormous proportions in recent years, with the attorney general’s office expected to have influence over their eventual outcome in the next term. 

Brown once proposed backing Muwekma Ohlone tribe for a casino at the old Oakland Army Depot, an idea that eventually fell through. 

Brown took in $55,400 in contributions from corporations in the last two months, including $5,600 apiece from the Bank of America PAC in Atlanta, Kroger Supermarkets in Los Angeles, and the Hilton Hotels Corporation in Tennessee. 

In the past two months, $26,700 went to Brown’s campaign from law corporations, and $16,200 from law enforcement associations. In contrast, Poochigian’s single largest contribution came from the California Republican Party, which gave him $32,125 of the $174,525 Poochigian’s campaign received in the past two months. 



Jerry Brown’s top campaign contributions in the past two months 



California State Pipes Trades Council Political Action Fund: $11,100 


California Teachers Association: $11,100 


International Union of Operation Engineers Local 12: $11,100 


International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 11: $11,100 


Northern California Carpenters Regional Council: $11,100 


Pipe Trades District Council #36: $11,100 


Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 447 Federal Political Action Fund: $11,100 


Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 467: $11,100 


Political Action for Classified Employees of California School Employees: $11,100 


SEIU United Healthcare Workers West: $11,100 


Southern California Pipe Trades Council #16: $11,100 


State Building & Construction Trades Council of California: $11,100 


United Food and Commercial Workers Region 8 States Council: $11,100  


Chuck Poochigian’s top campaign contributions in the past two months 


California Republican Party/Victory 2006: $32,125 


California Restaurant Association PAC: $5,600 


Consulting Engineers & Land Surveyors PAC: $5,600 


Allergan Corporation (drug manufacturers): $5,600 


Fieldstead & Company (conservative fund): $5,600 


Duane R. Roberts (Owner, Chairman and CEO, Entrepreneurial Capital Corporation, Newport Beach): $5,600 


Hilary Poochigian: $5,600 


Richard J. Riordan (former Los Angeles Mayor and California Secretary for Education): $5,600