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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.

15

Clean Energy Fuels Corp., Seal Beach, CA

Energy company (natural gas, alternative fuels)

Badges

Win/loss percentage

0 percent

$21,950 to winners, $18,700,850 to losers

Clean Energy Fuels Corp., headquartered in Seal Beach, Calif., is the leading provider of natural gas for transportation in North America. President and CEO Andrew Littlefair founded Pickens Fuel Corp. in 1997 with T. Boone Pickens and reincorporated the company in 2001 as Clean Energy Fuels. The company serves more than 390 fleets in markets in the United States, Canada and Peru. It owns two liquefied natural gas production plants – in Willis, Texas, and Boron, Calif. – and operates a landfill gas facility in Dallas that produces renewable biomethane gas. Clean Energy donated $18.6 million to support Proposition 10 in 2008. The proposition, which failed, would have allowed the state to sell up to $5 billion in bonds to support renewable energy and alternative fuel sources, including incentives for consumers to purchase natural gas vehicles.

Total contributions: $18,894,800

32 donations: 13 to candidates, 17 to ballot measures and 2 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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