California's top political donors give way more to winning causes than losing ones

The 100 biggest spenders - individuals and special interest groups - have shelled out more than $1.25 billion to state campaigns over the last 12 years, about a third of the total contributed in that time, according to an analysis by California Watch. The biggest single donor is Hollywood producer Stephen Bing, who spent more than $52.5 million. Of that amount, $49.5 million was used to bankroll 2006's Proposition 87, which would have established a major government program for alternative energy - and which voters soundly defeated. (More often than not, however, the top donors have sided with the winners.) Spending the most among special interests is the California Teachers Association, which contributed more than $118 million during the past five election cycles and the first half of this one. From the California Watch report:

Given its size and wealth, California automatically sets national records for campaign donations - more money is spent here on politics than in any other state. Not surprisingly for California, the top 100 directed their money in large part toward the Democratic Party, which controls the governor's office and the state Legislature. Overall, these top donors - 50 wealthy individuals and 50 special interest groups analyzed by California Watch - gave twice as much to Democratic candidates as they did members of other political parties. But there was a split: Special interest donors favored Democrats, while individual donors favored Republicans by a slim margin.

Here are the top 10 individual donors:

Stephen L. Bing, Los Angeles, CA
Screenwriter and movie producer
56 donations: 23 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 14 to parties $52,500,782

Andrew Jerrold "Jerry" Perenchio, Los Angeles, CA
121 donations: 63 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 39 to parties

Charles T. Munger Jr., Palo Alto, CA
Physicist at Stanford University
60 donations: 25 to candidates, 25 to ballot measures and 10 to parties $14,093,488

L. John Doerr III, Woodside, CA
Venture capital
156 donations: 129 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 8 to parties

5 Peter V. Sperling, Phoenix, AZ
University of Phoenix
24 donations: 13 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 4 to parties

Alex G. Spanos, Stockton, CA
Real estate
83 donations: 58 to candidates, 5 to ballot measures and 20 to parties

Reed Hastings, Santa Cruz, CA
67 donations: 39 to candidates, 22 to ballot measures and 6 to parties

Henry T. Nicholas III, Newport Coast, CA
Broadcom semiconductor company
7 donations: 1 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 0 to parties

Lawrence K. Dodge, Monarch Beach, CA
Business executive, banker
25 donations: 14 to candidates, 3 to ballot measures and 8 to parties

Thomas Steyer, San Francisco, CA
Investment management
12 donations: 6 to candidates, 5 to ballot measures and 1 to parties

By the way, Charles T. Munger is not to be confused with Charlie Munger, who is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett's business partner for many years..

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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