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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.

David Bohnett, Los Angeles, CA

Venture capital

Badges

Win/loss percentage

8 percent

$117,300 to winners, $1,296,600 to losers

David Bohnett is a venture capitalist who founded the Beverly Hills firm Baroda Ventures LLC, which has investments in Stamps.com and other online companies. He co-founded the Internet media company GeoCities, which Yahoo! bought for $3.6 billion in 1999. Bohnett is an active philanthropist in the Los Angeles area. He is chairman of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association Board of Directors and the David Bohnett Foundation. The foundation’s stated mission is to improve “society through social activism,” and it gives to various causes, including gun control, gay rights and voting rights groups.

Total contributions: $1,452,650

50 donations: 39 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 4 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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