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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.

Bay Citizen

Charles T. Munger Jr., Palo Alto, CA

Physicist at Stanford University


Win/loss percentage

99 percent

$13,574,243 to winners, $186,650 to losers

Charles Munger Jr., a physicist at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, earned his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford. He has been active in state Republican politics, pushing a more moderate platform for the party. He fought to change California's congressional redistricting policy. He sponsored and heavily donated to 2010's Proposition 20, which removed elected representatives from the process of drawing new congressional districts. In 1989, he married attorney Charlotte Lowell, a Harvard Law School graduate. Munger is a one of eight children of Charles Munger, the billionaire vice chairman of financial holding company Berkshire Hathaway.

Total contributions: $14,093,488

60 donations: 25 to candidates, 25 to ballot measures and 10 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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