Capitol Alert

Data Tracker: Categorizing donors’ largesse to California lawmakers


California’s 120 lawmakers reflect a variety of life experiences, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and types of districts they represent. There also are differences in where they raise their campaign money.

During the 2013-2014 election cycle, current members of the California Legislature raised almost $102 million from 82,000 donations to more more than 350 campaign committees, according to filings with the California secretary of state. Lawmakers have to file financial reports covering the first half of 2015 in a few weeks.

Labor unions gave almost one-fifth of the money raised by lawmakers during the last cycle, the most of any category of donor. That shouldn’t be too surprising because the Legislature’s majority Democrats and organized labor traditionally are the closest of allies.

Ranking second in contributions to current lawmakers, at 12 percent, were health plans, drugmakers, hospitals and other health interests.

Money from insurance companies, real-estate developers and other members of the financial industry represented about 10 percent of the money lawmakers raised.

Political parties and other politicians were next on the list. The state’s contribution limits allow parties to give much more money to candidates than other donors, and some current members of the Legislature faced tough elections in the last cycle. Republicans won several battleground races, and party money made up the largest share of GOP member money.

Many of the same special interests that gave directly to lawmakers’ campaign committees also donated generously to independent spending committees that, in turn, were deeply involved in last cycle’s legislative races. Counting that money would push the $102 million – and likely certain categories of donor – significantly higher.

The Sacramento Bee’s Data Tracker is a weekly feature that offers a deeper looking at the numbers behind today’s news. Jim Miller: 916-326-5521, @jimmiller2