Internet-based fundraising group spends $5.5 million for Democrats

A Democratic fundraising group called Act Blue California – it’s actually based in Massachusetts – has directed millions of dollars into California races this year, including more than $1 million to Gavin Newsom’s campaigns for governor and lieutenant governor.

The Internet-based operation has shifted more than $5.5 million in donations to an array of Democratic contenders, including Senate, Assembly and statewide candidates, plus assorted political committees and action groups. The contributions are culled from donors who use Act Blue California as a sort of clearinghouse for their cash, and Act Blue “earmarks” their donations to the candidates of their choice. The group does not take a cut.

Even in a state accustomed to high-dollar donations and massive fund raising, Act Blue California’s performance is significant and casts a wide net, in part because of the relative ease of contributing funds over the Internet.  The result is that individual donations are often smaller than one sees in conventional fund raising, but there are more of them.

In Newsom’s case, for example, Act Blue California culled some 18,000 donations of $100 or less. Only two of Newsom’s donations through Act Blue were at the maximum of  $25,900 for his earlier campaign for governor.

The group’s funding includes $132,000 to attorney general candidate Kamala Harris, $44,000 for Dave Jones’ campaign for insurance commissioner, $67,000 to Larry Aceves, candidate for state schools superintendent and $551,000 to the California Young Democrats.

The donations to the campaigns appear on state financial disclosure records as coming from individual donors and not via Act Blue. The spending, however, is detailed on Act Blue’s expenditure report.

The group is part of a national fundraising committee that was set up in 2004 as Internet-driven solicitations cranked up. Nationally, Act Blue has raised some $120 million, according to published reports.

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