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The Rainmakers: California's top political donors, 2001-2011

Lavishing their largesse on legislators and political committees alike, the largest donors to California politics spent $1.25 billion from 2001 through 2011. The group — 50 special interests and 50 wealthy individuals — spans the Golden State's social order. They are corporate leaders and venture capitalists, real estate developers and Hollywood scions. They are energy and tobacco companies, labor unions and tribal governments. Collectively, they shelled out a third of all the money given to campaigns in the state during the 11-year period. This data includes only contributions to candidates and ballot measure committees, not independent expenditure groups.

1 Stephen L. Bing, Los Angeles, CA Screenwriter and movie producer 56 donations: 23 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 14 to parties
$52,500,782
2 Andrew Jerrold "Jerry" Perenchio, Los Angeles, CA Univision 121 donations: 63 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 39 to parties
$16,927,588
3 Charles T. Munger Jr., Palo Alto, CA Physicist at Stanford University 60 donations: 25 to candidates, 25 to ballot measures and 10 to parties
$14,093,488
4 L. John Doerr III, Woodside, CA Venture capital 156 donations: 129 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 8 to parties
$9,296,476
5 Peter V. Sperling, Phoenix, AZ University of Phoenix 24 donations: 13 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 4 to parties
$9,155,000
6 Alex G. Spanos, Stockton, CA Real estate 83 donations: 58 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 19 to parties
$8,979,476
7 Reed Hastings, Santa Cruz, CA Netflix 67 donations: 39 to candidates, 22 to ballot measures and 6 to parties
$8,506,895
8 Henry T. Nicholas III, Newport Coast, CA Broadcom semiconductor company 7 donations: 1 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$7,501,406
9 Lawrence K. Dodge, Monarch Beach, CA Business executive, banker 25 donations: 14 to candidates, 3 to ballot measures and 8 to parties
$6,834,399
10 Thomas Steyer, San Francisco, CA Investment management 12 donations: 6 to candidates, 5 to ballot measures and 1 to parties
$6,144,400
11 James E. Holman, Coronado, CA Publishing 74 donations: 9 to candidates, 65 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$5,151,586
12 Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, Sacramento, CA AKT Development 70 donations: 59 to candidates, 3 to ballot measures and 8 to parties
$4,421,316
13 Robert "Bob" W. Wilson, Brooklyn, NY Investor 5 donations: 0 to candidates, 5 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$4,000,100
14 Vinod Khosla, Portola Valley, CA Venture capital 21 donations: 13 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 2 to parties
$3,982,418
15 William A. Robinson Business executive 20 donations: 9 to candidates, 9 to ballot measures and 2 to parties
$3,843,850
16 T. Boone Pickens Jr., Dallas, TX Energy and oil 13 donations: 4 to candidates, 5 to ballot measures and 4 to parties
$3,735,800
17 Rob Reiner, Los Angeles, CA Entertainment 84 donations: 38 to candidates, 39 to ballot measures and 7 to parties
$3,452,200
18 William H. Lyon, Newport Beach, CA Home builder 160 donations: 127 to candidates, 13 to ballot measures and 20 to parties
$3,450,243
19 Robert N. Klein II, Fresno, CA Real estate investment 32 donations: 16 to candidates, 15 to ballot measures and 1 to parties
$3,144,964
20 Ann Howland Doerr, Woodside, CA Environmental advocacy group 34 donations: 25 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 3 to parties
$3,137,425
21 George Soros, Westchester, NY Investment management 8 donations: 1 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$3,035,000
22 Charles R. Schwab, Woodwide, CA Brokerage and banking 43 donations: 10 to candidates, 2 to ballot measures and 31 to parties
$2,956,550
23 Jerry L. Keenan, Fair Oaks, CA Auto insurance 36 donations: 7 to candidates, 29 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$2,848,866
24 George Joseph, Los Angeles, CA Insurance 14 donations: 1 to candidates, 4 to ballot measures and 9 to parties
$2,317,300
25 Bradley Wayne Hughes, Lexington, KY Public Storage 20 donations: 9 to candidates, 5 to ballot measures and 6 to parties
$2,276,700
26 William E. Bloomfield Jr., Manhattan Beach, CA Real estate 61 donations: 34 to candidates, 12 to ballot measures and 15 to parties
$2,231,000
27 Robin P. Arkley II, Eureka, CA Real estate 45 donations: 21 to candidates, 10 to ballot measures and 14 to parties
$2,085,709
28 Eli Broad, Malibu, CA Real estate, retirement investment 116 donations: 83 to candidates, 22 to ballot measures and 11 to parties
$2,011,793
29 Bruce E. Harrington, Newport Beach, CA 15 donations: 2 to candidates, 13 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$1,989,258
30 Robert J. Fisher, Atherton, CA The Gap Inc. 42 donations: 25 to candidates, 11 to ballot measures and 6 to parties
$1,982,376
31 Dawn L. Arnall, Los Angeles, CA Ameriquest Mortgage Company 20 donations: 13 to candidates, 1 to ballot measures and 6 to parties
$1,945,533
32 John G. Sperling, Phoenix, AZ University of Phoenix 22 donations: 12 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 4 to parties
$1,799,800
33 George M. Marcus Real estate investment 116 donations: 95 to candidates, 10 to ballot measures and 11 to parties
$1,779,674
34 Paul F. Folino, Orange County, CA Technology 86 donations: 61 to candidates, 12 to ballot measures and 13 to parties
$1,583,640
35 Wendy Schmidt, Atherton, CA Schmidt Family Foundation 8 donations: 4 to candidates, 4 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$1,580,900
36 William E. Oberndorf, San Francisco, CA Investment management 47 donations: 37 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 4 to parties
$1,518,328
37 Don Sebastiani, Sonoma, CA Wine 37 donations: 22 to candidates, 15 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$1,487,061
38 John T. Walton, Jackson, WY Investor and philanthropist 21 donations: 12 to candidates, 9 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$1,461,525
39 David Bohnett, Los Angeles, CA Venture capital 50 donations: 39 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 4 to parties
$1,452,650
40 Fred Eychaner, Chicago, IL Media 16 donations: 6 to candidates, 8 to ballot measures and 2 to parties
$1,452,500
41 Frank E. Baxter Investment management 143 donations: 110 to candidates, 13 to ballot measures and 20 to parties
$1,445,506
42 Anne G. Earhart, Laguna Beach, CA Energy company heiress 18 donations: 11 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 1 to parties
$1,442,300
43 Sergey Brin, Los Altos, CA Google 4 donations: 0 to candidates, 4 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$1,400,000
44 Stephen M. Silberstein, Belvedere, CA Software 53 donations: 37 to candidates, 9 to ballot measures and 7 to parties
$1,335,000
45 Michele Singer Reiner, Beverly Hills, CA Entertainment, social activism 5 donations: 2 to candidates, 3 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$1,326,400
46 Franklin P. Johnson Jr., Palo Alto, CA Venture capital 43 donations: 25 to candidates, 15 to ballot measures and 3 to parties
$1,302,910
47 Brian L. Harvey, Los Angeles, CA Real estate 20 donations: 9 to candidates, 11 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$1,300,420
48 Robert A. Day, Los Angeles, CA Investment management 60 donations: 39 to candidates, 10 to ballot measures and 11 to parties
$1,298,607
49 Donald G. Fisher, San Francisco, CA The Gap Inc. 64 donations: 47 to candidates, 14 to ballot measures and 3 to parties
$1,279,642
50 John T. Chambers, Los Altos, CA Cisco Systems 94 donations: 59 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 28 to parties
$1,264,572
1 California Teachers Association, Burlingame, CA Teachers union 1,563 donations: 907 to candidates, 569 to ballot measures and 87 to parties
$118,238,531
2 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Washington, DC Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology lobbying group 552 donations: 203 to candidates, 311 to ballot measures and 38 to parties
$71,608,063
3 Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Francisco, CA Energy company (electricity, natural gas) 1,792 donations: 1,659 to candidates, 46 to ballot measures and 87 to parties
$66,897,713
4 Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Temecula, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 1,182 donations: 1,054 to candidates, 47 to ballot measures and 81 to parties
$52,597,794
5 Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Cabazon, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 413 donations: 314 to candidates, 23 to ballot measures and 76 to parties
$50,428,228
6 Chevron Corp., San Ramon, CA Energy company (oil, gas and geothermal) 1,321 donations: 1,196 to candidates, 37 to ballot measures and 88 to parties
$50,405,905
7 California State Council of Service Employees, Sacramento, CA Labor union 984 donations: 635 to candidates, 318 to ballot measures and 31 to parties
$49,863,419
8 Philip Morris USA Inc., Richmond, VA Tobacco company 364 donations: 286 to candidates, 67 to ballot measures and 11 to parties
$39,553,382
9 Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Palm Springs, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 1,449 donations: 1,360 to candidates, 32 to ballot measures and 57 to parties
$38,348,438
10 Aera Energy, Bakersfield, CA Energy company (oil, natural gas) 33 donations: 0 to candidates, 33 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$33,435,243
11 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Winston-Salem, NC Tobacco company 354 donations: 251 to candidates, 84 to ballot measures and 19 to parties
$25,850,024
12 United Auburn Indian Community of the Auburn Rancheria, Auburn, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 140 donations: 100 to candidates, 33 to ballot measures and 7 to parties
$21,886,982
13 Pala Band of Mission Indians, Pala, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 109 donations: 77 to candidates, 27 to ballot measures and 5 to parties
$20,368,354
14 Mercury General Corp., Los Angeles, CA Auto insurance 540 donations: 469 to candidates, 37 to ballot measures and 34 to parties
$19,176,108
15 Clean Energy Fuels Corp., Seal Beach, CA Energy company (natural gas, alternative fuels) 32 donations: 13 to candidates, 17 to ballot measures and 2 to parties
$18,894,800
16 League of California Cities, Sacramento, CA Lobbying group 109 donations: 0 to candidates, 109 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$16,541,585
17 American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, Washington, DC Labor union 1,085 donations: 913 to candidates, 80 to ballot measures and 92 to parties
$15,672,357
18 San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Highland, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 610 donations: 542 to candidates, 10 to ballot measures and 58 to parties
$14,982,690
19 Edison International, Rosemead, CA Energy company 90 donations: 61 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 22 to parties
$14,503,204
20 California Correctional Peace Officers Association, West Sacramento, CA Labor union 1,157 donations: 1,007 to candidates, 47 to ballot measures and 103 to parties
$13,978,123
21 California Federation of Teachers, Burbank, CA Teachers union 816 donations: 513 to candidates, 263 to ballot measures and 40 to parties
$13,370,983
22 California School Employees Association, San Jose, CA Labor union 1,658 donations: 1,431 to candidates, 111 to ballot measures and 116 to parties
$11,914,114
23 Pfizer Inc., New York, NY Pharmaceutical company 490 donations: 432 to candidates, 8 to ballot measures and 50 to parties
$11,605,296
24 Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., New Brunswick, NJ Pharmaceutical company 348 donations: 314 to candidates, 11 to ballot measures and 23 to parties
$11,499,576
25 California Association of Public Hospitals & Health Systems, Oakland, CA Trade association 215 donations: 54 to candidates, 153 to ballot measures and 8 to parties
$11,077,454
26 GlaxoSmithKline, London, England Pharmaceutical company 727 donations: 701 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 19 to parties
$10,945,786
27 California Association of Realtors, Los Angeles, CA Trade association 1,466 donations: 1,273 to candidates, 81 to ballot measures and 112 to parties
$10,667,811
28 California Chamber of Commerce, Sacramento, CA Business lobbyst 512 donations: 386 to candidates, 86 to ballot measures and 40 to parties
$10,319,687
29 Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, NJ Pharmaceutical company 220 donations: 215 to candidates, 3 to ballot measures and 2 to parties
$10,189,760
30 Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Los Angeles, CA Energy company (oil, natural gas) 249 donations: 239 to candidates, 9 to ballot measures and 1 to parties
$9,978,000
31 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000, Sacramento, CA Labor union 414 donations: 303 to candidates, 45 to ballot measures and 66 to parties
$9,938,290
32 AT&T, Dallas, TX Telecommunications company 3,383 donations: 3,174 to candidates, 18 to ballot measures and 191 to parties
$9,829,843
33 Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, El Cajon, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 302 donations: 249 to candidates, 14 to ballot measures and 39 to parties
$8,717,457
34 California Professional Firefighters, Sacramento, CA Labor union 2,708 donations: 2,313 to candidates, 233 to ballot measures and 162 to parties
$8,653,027
35 Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, Brooks, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 51 donations: 38 to candidates, 10 to ballot measures and 3 to parties
$8,341,241
36 California Nurses Association, Oakland, CA Labor union 1,493 donations: 1,340 to candidates, 113 to ballot measures and 40 to parties
$8,195,212
37 Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA Environmental advocacy group 55 donations: 0 to candidates, 55 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$7,988,856
38 California State Council of Laborers, Sacramento, CA Labor union 1,393 donations: 1,310 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 64 to parties
$7,794,275
39 Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Alpine, CA Tribal government with gaming interests 357 donations: 311 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 39 to parties
$7,440,651
40 California Building Industry Association, Sacramento, CA Trade association 2,268 donations: 2,139 to candidates, 34 to ballot measures and 95 to parties
$7,319,368
41 Professional Engineers in California Government, Sacramento, CA Labor union 1,448 donations: 1,354 to candidates, 25 to ballot measures and 69 to parties
$7,285,575
42 California Motor Car Dealers Association, Sacramento, CA Trade association 1,270 donations: 1,238 to candidates, 13 to ballot measures and 19 to parties
$7,274,551
43 Amgen Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA Pharmaceutical company 427 donations: 349 to candidates, 14 to ballot measures and 64 to parties
$7,178,405
44 California Dental Association, Sacramento, CA Trade association 1,742 donations: 1,606 to candidates, 10 to ballot measures and 126 to parties
$6,958,908
45 State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, Sacramento, CA Labor Union 1,194 donations: 1,080 to candidates, 30 to ballot measures and 84 to parties
$6,806,799
46 Sempra Energy, San Diego, CA Energy company 1,416 donations: 1,262 to candidates, 24 to ballot measures and 130 to parties
$6,441,136
47 California Faculty Association, Sacramento, CA Labor union 855 donations: 609 to candidates, 201 to ballot measures and 45 to parties
$6,302,786
48 National Education Association, Washington, DC Labor union 8 donations: 0 to candidates, 8 to ballot measures and 0 to parties
$6,135,888
49 Eli Lilly and Co., Indianapolis, IN Pharmaceutical Company 668 donations: 647 to candidates, 4 to ballot measures and 17 to parties
$5,706,051
50 California League of Conservation Voters, Oakland, Los Angeles, CA Environmental advocacy group 252 donations: 206 to candidates, 37 to ballot measures and 9 to parties
$5,563,473

Source: Contribution data from National Institute on Money in State Politics

Credits: Interactive by Michael Corey, Coulter Jones and Chase Davis. Reporting by Coulter Jones. Badge design by Thomas Guffey. Additional reporting by Stanford University students enrolled in a Communications Department investigative reporting class under the direction of California Watch Editorial Director Mark Katches. The project began in January 2011. Students participating were: Devin Banerjee, Daniel Bohm, Kathleen Chaykowski, Tom Corrigan, Cassandra Feliciano, Jamie Hansen, Amy Harris, Josh Hicks, Ellen Huet, Julia James, Paul Jones, Ryan Mac, Valentina Nesci, Dean Schaffer, Elizabeth Titus and Kareem Yasin. Bohm, Hansen, Huet, Harris and Titus continued to work on the project as California Watch interns under the direction of Associate Editor Denise Zapata.

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