Capitol Alert

California lawmakers raise more than $24 million in first half of 2015

Recently filed campaign-finance reports show that, during one of the quieter stretches on the political calendar, members of the California Legislature raised more than $24 million from January through June.

The cash haul, reflected in almost 18,000 individual donations to more than 190 state and local campaign committees controlled by lawmakers, is significantly more than the $18.5 million in contributions reported by then-members of the Legislature the first six months of 2013.

The California economy has improved over two years ago. Also, the costly special elections in the East Bay’s 7th Senate District generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to the two runoff candidates, Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, and the man who defeated her, state Sen. Steven Glazer, D-Orinda.

And while the total dollar amounts might be different, the filings for the first halves of 2013 and 2015 highlight that the Legislature’s majority Democrats continue to get most of it. Two-thirds of the donations to lawmakers went to Democrats, down slightly from the first half of 2013, when Democrats had two-thirds supermajorities in both houses.

Labor groups and the health care industry gave the most from January through June, records show. Financial interests and miscellaneous businesses also gave generously.

Most lawmakers raised money into a re-election committee, records show. Some, though, collected money into committees for possible campaigns for local or statewide office. Assemblywoman Beth Gaines, R-Roseville, who has to leave office next year because of term limits, reported contributions to four campaign committees from January through June: Beth Gaines for State Senate 2020, Beth Gaines for the Board of Equalization in 2018, and Beth Gaines for Supervisor 2016 – as well as raising money into her Assembly office-holder account.

The latest filings, which were due July 31, also show that lawmakers spent more than $14.4 million the first six months of the year, and donated another $7.1 million to political parties and other candidate campaign committees.

The Sacramento Bee’s Data Tracker is a weekly feature that offers a deeper look at the numbers behind today’s news.