Capitol Alert

California Democrats seek fundraising pacts with presidential, Senate candidates

John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, is joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg at the opening of the state party’s headquarters in downtown Sacramento last June.
John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, is joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg at the opening of the state party’s headquarters in downtown Sacramento last June. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Citing a wave of donations to Republicans by corporate special interests and the “super-rich,” California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton is inviting Democratic candidates for president and the state’s U.S. Senate contest to enter into joint fundraising agreements with the party.

“Republicans will be raising and spending more than ever to try to take back the White House and win California’s open Senate seat. We have to fight back,” Burton wrote in a Tuesday letter to all of the Democratic candidates.

While the specifics have not been worked out, the effort would allow donors to write one check that gets shared between the candidate and the party.

Federal law limits the amount donors can give to a candidate to $2,700 per election. The state party can raise a maximum of $5,000 from a federal PAC and $10,000 from an individual every year. Burton’s letter states that because state parties are on calendar-year limits, opening a joint committee in 2015 will help it prepare for the 2016 cycle.

“Every day we delay gives the Republicans more time to build their war chest,” Burton said.

Democratic presidential candidates include former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia and former Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. Those running to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California are Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Orange.

Burton’s letter notes that the party does not spend money from a joint-committee for an open seat until it has issued a formal endorsement.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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