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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.

Rob Reiner, Los Angeles, CA



Win/loss percentage

13 percent

$437,499 to winners, $2,982,202 to losers

Rob Reiner is a director, actor, writer and political activist. He earned two Emmy awards in the 1970s for his role as Michael Stivic on the TV sitcom “All in the Family.” He has directed successful Hollywood films, including “When Harry Met Sally,” “A Few Good Men” and “The Princess Bride.” With his wife, Michele Reiner, he co-founded the nonprofit Parents’ Action for Children, which uses video to promote early childhood development. He is a board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, which opposed and is legally challenging California's Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that banned gay marriage. Reiner was identified as a potential candidate to run against former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, but chose not to run. He is active in supporting environmental causes – particularly preserving open space – in California.

Total contributions: $3,452,200

84 donations: 38 to candidates, 39 to ballot measures and 7 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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