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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.


Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., New Brunswick, NJ

Pharmaceutical company


Win/loss percentage

95 percent

$1,315,645 to winners, $66,556 to losers

Johnson & Johnson Services is a global American pharmaceutical, medical device and consumer packaged-goods company. Band-Aid, Tylenol, Neutrogena, Clean and Clear, Acuvue and Johnson’s baby products are among its well-known consumer labels. The company’s two top-selling medications are the psoriasis drug Remicade and the schizophrenia medication Risperdal. The U.S. Department of Justice brought a lawsuit against the company in 2010, alleging it illegally marketed drugs between 1999 and 2004 to Omnicare, a company that dispenses drugs in nursing homes.

Total contributions: $11,499,576

348 donations: 314 to candidates, 11 to ballot measures and 23 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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