Big Bucks Flow at Last Minute in Assembly Race

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With Election Day less than a week away, big-money contributors are setting their sights – and their cash – on the local 74rh Assembly District race among Republicans Leslie Daigle and Allan Mansoor and Democrat Bob Rush.

In May of 2012 alone, according to state financial disclosures, support for the 74th Assembly District candidates has seen large influxes of money supporting their campaigns.

Leslie Daigle.

Leslie Daigle tops the list with just under a half-million dollars in support in May alone. Allan Mansoor received just more than $30,000 in the same period. Democrat Bob Rush hasn’t received anything, according to state records reviewed by the Independent.

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 Irvine and Newport Beach-based Howard Ahmanson Jr. Ahmanson 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 when she spoke with the paper this week about this late influx of campaign 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.

Financial disclosures from the state 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. This money has paid for a rash of last-minute TV spots supporting Daigle and attacking fellow Republican Mansoor.

When asked by the Independent why Munger is throwing his considerable financial clout into her campaign and funding a high-end well-produced media onslaught at this late hour, Daigle responded by emailing: “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 the heir to the fortune of the Home Savings and Loan Bank built by his father.  An Ahmanson group has been providing funding to the Orange County GOP to the tune of $15,000 dollars. 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 Bob Rush.

Mansoor’s chief of staff, Chad Morgan, told the Independent, “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 help provide substantial funding to Prop. 8 that sought to ban same-sex marriage  in the state.

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. State records show he hasn’t received anything.

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

 

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