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.

Orange County Register

Lawrence K. Dodge, Monarch Beach, CA

Business executive, banker


Win/loss percentage

4 percent

$20,600 to winners, $548,399 to losers

A third-generation Californian, Lawrence Dodge grew up on a citrus farm in Redlands. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps after high school and served as an aviator with the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. While in the service, he earned his business degree. Dodge founded the American Sterling Corp. in 1977. A subsidiary, American Sterling Bank, was taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2009. The federal Office of Thrift Supervision charged him with contributing to the bank's demise by misreporting the bank's income. Metcalf Bank later bought American Sterling Bank.

Total contributions: $6,834,399

25 donations: 14 to candidates, 3 to ballot measures and 8 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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