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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.


Andrew Jerrold "Jerry" Perenchio, Los Angeles, CA



Win/loss percentage

26 percent

$1,815,200 to winners, $5,196,774 to losers

Jerry Perenchio greatly increased his fortune by selling Spanish-language broadcast company Univision for $13.7 billion in 2007. He is a major contributor to the Republican advocacy organization Progress for America and has donated to many other GOP candidates and campaigns. Perenchio has raised and donated millions to Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush and also was the national co-finance director for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. Perenchio also has supported some Democrats, including former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former California Gov. Gray Davis. In the 1970s, he organized the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs and the "Fight of the Century" featuring legendary heavyweight champions Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier.

Total contributions: $16,927,588

121 donations: 63 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 39 to parties

List of contributions

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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