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State’s political watchdog details campaign cash

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, a Republican, and Hollywood producer Steve Bing, a Democrat,  together donated more than $101 million to political causes during the past decade – and infusion of cash that places them at the pinnacle of California’s campaign contributors.

Between Jan. 1, 2000 through Dec. 31, 2009, Bing donated more than $58 million to a variety of causes. During the same period, Poziner gave $43.2 million, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission, which tallied financial disclosure documents filed with the secretary of state’s office.

Bing and Poizner headed the FPPC list of the top 10 donors of the decade, who gave a total of $266.6 million.

The listing was the second in a monthly series of reports.

In January, the commission listed the spending of the top 10 independent expenditure committees, or IEs. The IEs can finance political messages for or against candidates without regard to the limits on donations that apply to contributions by individuals. Together, the top 10 committees donated about $47.7 million. More than a fifth of the donations came from one IE – a group known as Californians for Better Government, which includes firefighters, police, deputy sheriffs, teachers, home builders and developers.

Bing has financed a variety of Democratic and environmental causes, including a 2006 attempt to raise $4 billion through oil severance tax. Much of Poizner’s money went to his 2006 campaign for insurance commissioner and his earlier, unsuccessful campaign for a Silicon Valley Assembly seat won by Jerry Ruskin.

“We’re trying to find additional ways to inform the media and the public of the influence of  money in politics. This is one of the innovative ways to  give a quick snapshot of the different ways that money is applied through political campaigns,” said Roman Porter, the FPPC’s executive director.

Here are two Top 10 lists compiled by the FPPC.  The first details the donors, the second the spending by IEs.


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