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

Paul F. Folino, Orange County, CA



Win/loss percentage

16 percent

$156,799 to winners, $806,641 to losers

Paul Folino made his fortune in the technology sector, working first at Xerox in the early 1970s. In 1993, he became president of Emulex Corp., which provides networking services for large companies. He also served as the company’s executive chairman. A Republican, Folino has contributed to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaigns and initiatives, including 2005’s Proposition 74, which would have changed employment terms for teachers and was unpopular with the California Teachers Association. Folino held fundraisers for some of Schwarzenegger’s initiatives, a favor that Schwarzenegger repaid by donating to and raising money for some of Folino’s projects, including a film school at Chapman University. Folino also supported Republican Richard Riordan’s campaign for governor in 2002.

Total contributions: $1,583,640

86 donations: 61 to candidates, 12 to ballot measures and 13 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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