Founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting

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.


California Teachers Association, Burlingame, CA

Teachers union


Win/loss percentage

55 percent

$57,144,669 to winners, $46,927,754 to losers

The California Teachers Association is the largest teachers union in the state, representing about 325,000 public school teachers, counselors, psychologists, librarians and education support professionals. It was founded in 1863 and is affiliated with the National Education Association. The association, led by President David A. Sanchez, supports many education-related issues, but has contributed to some that were not. In 2008, the association gave more than $1.5 million to No on Proposition 8, a ballot measure that banned gay marriage in the state.

Total contributions: $118,238,531

1,563 donations: 907 to candidates, 569 to ballot measures and 87 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.


Our Content

Who We Are

Partner With Us