"Those numbers are staggering. . . . The danger is obvious. When you're dependent on one industry for (nearly) half of your contributions, that's extraordinary. It certainly suggests that you'd think twice before offending that industry."
Larry Thomas, the Irvine Co.'s vice president for corporate communications
"We have what I would probably characterize as a corporate ethic of activism in public affairs. We give to candidates who stand for ideas that we share as a general philosophy."
Development, Real Estate Contributions Dominate
Candidates for county supervisor, especially incumbents, turn more often to the development and real estate industry for their political contributions than they do to any other source.
Top Development and Real Estate Donors
Leading campaign contributors who work in or represent real estate or land development businesses.
Building Industry Assn.: $48,005
* William Cooper: $38,405
Shapell Industries: $36,469
Irvine Co.: $32,191
Mission Viejo Co.: $30,563
William Lyon Co.: $30,214
J.M. Peters Co.: $27,847
Baldwin Co.: $27,815
Pacesetter Homes Pacesetter Real Estate Group: $27,636
Hon Development Co.: $25,883
* Cooper is a local executive with mortgage and real estate interests, but unlike other contributors on this list, his political contributions were personal, not corporate.
Note: Contributions by employees of these companies are not included in their totals.
Incumbents Benefit Most
Development interests, like most contributors, rarely gamble on a challenger. Instead they overwhelmingly give to incumbents
Development money to incumbents: $2,914,247
Development money to challengers: $191,002
* Contributions to the 1986 campaign for an open seat on the board are not included.
Disneyland and its parent firm, the Walt Disney Co., make big contributions in Washington and Sacramento, but they're stingier with the Board of Supervisors.
14 years of Disneyland contributions to Orange County supervisor candidates.*: $15,050
4 years of Walt Disney Co. to U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey.*: 78,040
* Both include Disney employee contributions.
Contributors who are identified only as "housewives" have made their overwhelming candidate of choice Harriett M. Wieder, the only woman ever elected to the board.
All other candidates during the past 14 years: $15,928
All four sitting supervisors combined: $8,947
Total "housewife" contributions: $46,366
She is identified in disclosure statements by a variety of titles, including "homemaker," but millionaire Joan Irvine Smith has long been willing to make generous campaign contributions to supervisorial candidates.
Joan Irvine Smith Total contributions to board candidates: $14,423
Supervisors And Development Industry Contributions
All five supervisors receive a sizeable portion of their campaign contributions from development interests over the past 14 years.
Thomas F. Riley: 57.8%
Development money: $564,775
Roger R. Stanton: 46.5%
Development money: $262,170
Gaddi H. Vasquez: 40.5%
Development money: $210,830
Harriett M. Wieder: 39.4%
Development money: $555,721
Don R. Roth: 39.4%
Development money: $495,081
Note: Riley has served on the board the longest, followed by Wieder, Stanton, Roth and Vasquez, in that order.
Source: Campaign disclosure statements, 1977-91