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Area Senate, Assembly Members Spend Almost as Much as They Collect : Legislators' Off-Year Fund Raising Increases

April 13, 1986|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

State legislators representing the San Gabriel Valley raised more than $1.8 million last year for their political campaigns and spent more than $1.6 million although it was not an election year.

The legislators used the money to travel, buy political advice, loan money to friends, help political allies and hire professionals to raise more money.

Most of the donations came from statewide political action committees of corporations, trade associations and labor unions, rather than from local residents.

The area's seven senators and eight Assembly members raised $300,000 more than they collected in 1983, but $1.1 million less than they raised in the election year of 1984.

The legislators disclosed their contributions and expenditures in year-end statements filed by their campaign committees with state and county offices. The statements show that the three state senators and seven Assembly members who face reelection this year have more than $1.2 million in the bank.

All of the legislators have politically safe districts. In fact, two of them, Sen. Joseph Montoya (D-Whittier) and Assemblyman Richard Mountjoy (R-Monrovia), are so entrenched that no one filed to run against them, and the only opposition they could face now would be from write-in candidates.

Two senators whose terms do not expire until 1988 are running for statewide office, but will retain their Senate seats if they lose. Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights) is a candidate for state controller and Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora) is seeking the office of lieutenant governor.

Sen. Walter W. Stiern (D-Bakersfield), whose district includes parts of Altadena and Pasadena, raised no campaign money last year because he plans to retire when his term expires at the end of this year.

Runoff Election to Be June 3

There is also an open seat in the Assembly created by the election of Richard Alatorre to the Los Angeles City Council. Alatorre, whose district included part of Pasadena, resigned from the Assembly in December. No candidate received a majority of the votes in a special election April 8 so the top vote-getters from each party will compete in a runoff June 3.

The incumbent legislator who may face the toughest election battle this year in the San Gabriel Valley is Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-El Monte), who raised $84,005 last year and began this year with nearly $70,000 in the bank.

Assembly Republican leader Pat Nolan (R-Glendale) recently announced that Republicans will raise $1 million to wage campaigns against Tanner and five other Assembly Democrats.

Nolan said Tanner was targeted because Republicans think they have a strong candidate in Henry J. Velasco, who has served on the El Monte City Council for 10 years. But Velasco lost a bid for reelection to the City Council last week in a campaign in which voters may have questioned his intentions because he would have had to give up the council seat if he won the Assembly race.

Nolan said the amount of money channeled into the Assembly campaign depends on Velasco's strength as the campaign develops and on priorities in other races.

Nolan, whose district includes part of Pasadena, raised more money last year than any other San Gabriel Valley legislator, collecting $389,982.

The biggest spender was Alatorre. His year-end report showed expenditures of $356,630, but Alatorre has said that some of this spending is being questioned because of the way he financed his council campaign. A Los Angeles city law that went into effect last year prohibits council candidates from using state committee funds on a city race. The Los Angeles city attorney's office has said it is investigating Alatorre's campaign finances.

Sen. Campbell led area senators in campaign spending by paying out more than $213,000. More than $25,000 went to Jerry Haleva, his chief political adviser, and $17,553 went to his campaign treasurer, Kenneth J. Rammell.

Many legislators make charitable donations from their campaign funds. Campbell, for example, gave $1,000 to the Wilson High School band and $1,125 to the Los Altos High School Band Boosters.

Campaign funds also are used to entertain political supporters. Campbell bought $8,000 worth of tickets to Raiders football games and to Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings basketball games.

Legislators are prohibited from using campaign funds for personal expenses, but there are few other restrictions.

Montoya, for example, used his campaign funds to loan $25,000 to Angel Diaz, a Delano farmer, and $8,500 to Amiel Jaramillo, a legislative consultant. Montoya said the loans are advantageous to him because the money draws as much interest as it would in a bank and the loans are recallable at any time if his campaign needs the money.

One of the more frugal spenders last year was Mountjoy, who spent $30,442, much of it on travel between his district and Sacramento.

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