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Contributors to Mayoral Race Seek a Friendly Ear

March 11, 1985|FRANK CLIFFORD | Times Staff Writer

A significant portion of those who contribute to the campaigns of the two main candidates in the Los Angeles mayoral race have business connections with the city, according to a Times computer study of campaign contributions.

The study, which polled nearly 1,600 contributors, also found that in a city noted for its cultural diversity, Mayor Tom Bradley and his chief opponent, City Councilman John Ferraro, are relying heavily for financial support on a small segment of wealthy white businessmen and lawyers.

The Times study of contributors paints a picture of the typical giver as a middle-aged, Westside homeowner whose annual income of $75,000 or more puts him within the top 3% of income producers in the city.

The study found that 42% of the contributors to Bradley and Ferraro either do business with the city or need the city's approval for work that they or their clients want to undertake.

Many of the contributors--26%--declined to give any reason for their giving. Of those who did answer, 10% said they contributed because they believed that their generosity would be rewarded with benefits ranging from a favorable decision on a project to a private audience with an influential city official.

"Certainly, it helps to give," said a businessman who has contributed more than $1,500 to Bradley, Ferraro and other city officials during the last two years.

"When we had problems with bureaucratic red tape at City Hall, we talked to our council person, and he was able to solve the problem in a matter of a few days. Without his help, it might have taken weeks," said the businessman who asked not to be named.

"Many of the major givers are those with business with the city. They have advantages to get from the city, and they get them," said Sheldon Andelson, a prominent Democratic fund-raiser and party activist with ties to a number of local officeholders.

A banker and lawyer, Andelson said he does not have any business interests linked to the city.

The computer study also shed light on the ethnic and economic background, political affiliation and ages of contributors.

While Bradley and Ferraro vie for the votes of the ethnic groups, poor people, and renters who make up a majority of the city's population, the two candidates get most of their campaign funds from the city's leading real estate developers, lobbyists, lawyers, financiers and entertainment industry executives.

Moreover, the candidates' dependence on what is primarily money from white contributors comes at a time when the white population is shrinking faster than ever before. Between 1970 and 1980, according to the U.S Census, the percentage of whites in the city dropped from 57 to 48.

Minority Breakdown

Even though Bradley is black, only 5% of the contributors are black. The black population is 16% of the city's population. Latinos, accounting for 27% of the city's population, also are under-represented, amounting to only 4% of the contributors.

Compared with the general population of the city, the contributors stand out in a variety of ways. The percentage of homeowners is more than twice as high among contributors as it is among all residents. The percentage of Jews is four times as high and that of Asians is twice as high as their representation in the population of the city.

The Times polled 1,573 contributors who provided most of the money raised by Bradley since the end of his 1982 gubernatorial campaign and by Ferraro in the three years since he won reelection to the City Council.

The two men raised $2.5 million in that period, with Bradley receiving almost 70% of it.

The contributors said they gave money to candidates for a variety of reasons. In some instances, they said they were friends with a candidate; in other cases, they said they respected what a candidate stood for; and, in others, they said they gave to candidates who would best serve their business interests.

"We're backing the ones we've been able to explain the issues to, who've listened to us and who have come down on our side," said Pat Garner, a vice president of Southern California Gas Co.

Several contributors said they felt pressure to give, saying they were pestered by incumbent officeholders or their campaign staffs to buy tickets or tables to fund-raising dinners.

"It's nothing to get asked to buy a table for $3,500. You can get hit by seven or eight of them (city officials) at one time. I've got my bookkeeper responding to four different events right now," said Herb Citrin, president of Valet Parking Services Inc.

The contributor who gave most lavishly, Mark Weinberg, a 30-year-old Beverly Hills commodities trader and a Republican, said he gave more than $80,000 to Bradley out of appreciation for the mayor's friendship.

"Politically, Tom Bradley has taught me almost everything I know," Weinberg said. "He has coached me on how to handle myself with politicians, on how to size up the ones who are just out for money."

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