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.


Michele Singer Reiner, Beverly Hills, CA

Entertainment, social activism


Win/loss percentage

2 percent

$26,400 to winners, $1,300,000 to losers

Michele Singer Reiner is a photographer, producer and social activist. In 1989, she married filmmaker Rob Reiner. In 1997, the couple started the Parents’ Action for Children foundation, which seeks to raise public awareness about the importance of prenatal care in children’s development. She worked with Newsweek to produce an issue on early-childhood development and produced a prime-time ABC special. She serves as treasurer of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which is sponsoring a federal court challenge to Proposition 8. The measure, which voters passed in 2008, banned gay marriage in California.

Total contributions: $1,326,400

5 donations: 2 to candidates, 3 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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