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.

Sacramento Bee

Jerry L. Keenan, Fair Oaks, CA

Auto insurance


Win/loss percentage

1 percent

$19,200 to winners, $2,829,666 to losers

President of a Rancho Cordova auto insurance company, Jerry Keenan's campaign donations went to one cause – Proposition 66, a 2004 ballot measure that would have reduced some penalties in the “three strikes law,” an initiative voters approved in 1994. He was the primary financial backer of Prop. 66, which narrowly failed. He drew criticism from Sacramento County's deputy district attorney, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and others, who claimed he was bankrolling the bill to lighten his son’s prison sentence. Richard Keenan was convicted of manslaughter in 1999 for causing the deaths of two friends when he crashed his car while driving drunk. He was sentenced to eight years in Folsom State Prison. If Prop. 66 had passed, it would have allowed early release for good conduct, which might have allowed the younger Keenan to shorten his sentence.

Total contributions: $2,848,866

36 donations: 7 to candidates, 29 to ballot measures and 0 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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