A super PAC working to boost Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s underdog bid for U.S. Senate is throwing a Friday afternoon event in Newport Beach featuring a special guest: Loretta Sanchez.
An invitation obtained by The Sacramento Bee lists Sanchez as the guest of an “informational luncheon” sponsored by California’s New Frontier where attendees will learn about her campaign to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer – and learn how to contribute to it.
Following Sanchez’s remarks at Big Canyon Country Club, organizers plan to present recent survey data from polling firm Penn Schoen Berland along with “an evaluation of opportunities to support a moderate, business friendly candidate for U.S. Senate,” according to the invitation.
Federal super PACs were once thought to be legally prevented from working closely with the campaigns they support, but the boundaries are blurring.
Rules allow a candidate to attend fundraisers hosted by an independent PAC as long as the candidate does not personally solicit donations exceeding the individual limit of $2,700 per election.
But “nothing stops somebody else from standing up after the candidate leaves and asking for a corporation to donate $1 million” to the PAC, said Larry Noble, general counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan election reform group.
“The independence of the Super PAC is a fiction. But it’s a fiction sanctioned by the FEC (Federal Election Commission),” Noble said. To most people the candidate is bestowing “approval on the Super PAC, and the implication is when you give to the super PAC you are directly helping the candidate.”
California’s New Frontier, guided by Stu Mollrich, once an adviser to former Republican Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Pete Wilson, was formed this spring to help push Sanchez into the Nov. 8 runoff with Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Al Stokke, a spokesman for the PAC, said Sanchez “will not be there when we talk about the campaign itself.” Asked about the fundraising pitch, Stokke said “that’s not to be discussed at this time.”
The political action committee raised just $99,000 though June 30, including $20,000 from developer Michael D. Ray of Sanderson J. Ray Corp. in Irvine, $10,000 from James W. Ray of Newport Beach and $10,000 from Wylie Aitken of Santa Ana, a consumer attorney and longtime Sanchez benefactor. It reported nearly $61,000 in independent expenditures for Sanchez.
Friday’s invitation lists as hosts Peter and Ginny Ueberroth. Peter Ueberroth, who worked in the travel business and later became an investor at a Newport Beach private equity company, organized the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles and was the sixth commissioner of Major League Baseball. A longtime Republican, Ueberroth ran as an independent in the 2003 recall election for California governor.
The event coincides with Sanchez’s continued courtship of Republicans, including Rep. Darrell Issa of Vista, former Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, ex-Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and conservative syndicated radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Stokke noted that while the PAC was formed by Democrats, “Now there is substantial interest that we are looking at from Republicans.”
Standing Up For California’s Middle Class, a union-funded Super PAC baking Harris, has raised just over $1 million, but has yet to spend on her behalf.