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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.


Robin P. Arkley II, Eureka, CA

Real estate


Win/loss percentage

8 percent

$82,000 to winners, $963,609 to losers

Robin P. Arkley II is the founder and owner of Security National Holding Co., a group of real estate asset acquisition and management companies. Arkley earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and taxation from the University of Southern California. He earned his law degree from the University of the Pacific and established the firm Dun and Arkley in his hometown of Eureka in 1983. He left four years later to start Security National Holding. In October, Security National Properties filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors, who are owed up to $500 million. Arkley has given almost exclusively to Republican candidates, giving more than $1 million to the state Republican Party and at least $250,000 to committees supporting various propositions backed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Total contributions: $2,085,709

45 donations: 21 to candidates, 10 to ballot measures and 14 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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