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California GOP hid $1 million donation

The San Francisco Chronicle reports: During a retreat at a luxurious desert resort weeks before the 2002 election, an insurance company lobbyist approached state Republican leaders with a stunning offer: $1 million to defeat Democrats in the last days of the race.

What followed was a complex political donation strategy in which the company, 21st Century Insurance Group, and the Republican Party distributed large donations to candidates in a way that avoided new contribution limits. The plan helped Republicans gain two Assembly seats held by Democrats for at least a dozen years.

After an investigation that spanned more than a year, the Fair Political Practices Commission recently closed the case with minor sanctions against low- level county Republican committees, which received and spent the money, for technical violations of the law.

Elections officials concluded that although the California Republican Party coordinated the plan, there was not enough evidence for a case alleging the party controlled the plan in a way that would have been illegal. Likewise, the commission concluded 21st Century did not violate campaign laws.

But the maneuverings demonstrate that top Republican Party officers, in concert with a wealthy corporate donor, put a remarkable amount of effort into preparing the contributions in a way designed to avoid detection and evade spending regulations. The ultimate disposition of the case by the commission also highlights what critics say is a myopic focus on minor infractions. -- Juggling act helped GOP put 2 in office / Complex strategy to fund candidates avoided new limits (San Francisco Chronicle)


Ed, you say the seats were held "for at least a dozen years." But the reality is that California's judge-drawn 1990's districts were radically redrawn by the Legislature in 2001, and no district had been in existence, much less held by one party or the other, for more than 1 year at the time of the 2002 election. There just was too little correlation between the old and new districts to make that claim.

I'm just quoting the San Francisco Chronicle; I did not "say" anything.