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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.


Anne G. Earhart, Laguna Beach, CA

Energy company heiress


Win/loss percentage

74 percent

$1,033,400 to winners, $358,900 to losers

Anne Earhart, daughter of George Getty and granddaughter of J. Paul Getty, is a longtime defender of coastlines and marine environments around the world. She inherited $400 million when Texaco bought Getty Oil in 1986. Earhart is the founder and president of the Marisla Foundation, established in 1986 and incorporated in California. The Marisla Foundation has supported groups from the local through international levels that promote ocean health. Its projects and issues include sustainable fisheries and water quality.

Total contributions: $1,442,300

18 donations: 11 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 1 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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