Just days before the election, state Sen. Richard Polanco has funneled $106,500 to bolster the state Senate campaign of Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon.
The money came from the California Friends Latino Political Action Committee, controlled by Polanco, a Los Angeles Democrat who is the powerful chairman of the state's Latino legislative caucus.
Alarcon's Democratic opponent, former Assemblyman Richard Katz, also benefited from late contributions, taking in $82,000 since last week from 22 sources, including the California School Employees Assn., California Medical Assn. and the California Trucking Assn.
The Katz-Alarcon race is the Valley's most intense, pitting a homegrown Latino politician against an established Democratic power broker. Both sides have openly vied for the growing Latino vote. The total fund-raising reported for the race as of Friday was $593,000 for Katz and $582,000 for Alarcon.
Katz called the late reports "an attempt to hide full disclosure of Alarcon's principal backers."
Alarcon shrugged off Katz's criticism.
"I'm not attempting to hide the money," Alarcon said. "I wish [Katz] would stop whining about this campaign and stick to the issues."
In addition to the Polanco contribution, Alarcon received $20,500 in late contributions from a dozen other sources as of Friday, according to state records.
The contributions of the PAC, also controlled by Assembly members Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar) and Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego), represents about 20% of the money Alarcon has raised in the race.
It is not the first time that Polanco has made hefty late contributions to benefit Latino candidates.
Two years ago Polanco gave $15,000 and the Latino Issues PAC gave another $10,000 to Cardenas in his campaign against Jim Dantona and Valerie Salkin.
Cardenas won and became the Valley's first Latino assemblyman. Alarcon is vying to become the Valley's first Latino state senator.
Polanco was one of Alarcon's early supporters and even tried to use his influence during the Democratic Convention in March to win Alarcon the party endorsement. But Katz, a former party leader in the Assembly, beat Alarcon to get the nod.
Bill Mabie, a spokesman for Polanco, said the late contribution was not an attempt to hide his support for Alarcon.
"It's fully reported," he said. "The fact of the matter is that these are the days that the bills have to be paid."
Mabie said the contribution was an attempt to close a fund-raising lead that Katz has over Alarcon. Katz has the lead primarily because of a $130,000 transfer he made to his campaign from a previous Assembly account he controlled.
"It's for financial catch-up," Mabie said.
The seat is being vacated by state Sen. Herschel Rosenthal (D-Los Angeles), who is being forced out of office by term limits.
State law requires candidates to report within 24 hours any contribution over $1,000 made between May 17 and June 1.