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Backers of electoral vote measure revealed

November 07, 2007|Dan Morain | Times Staff Writer

Backers of a proposed initiative that would change the way California's electoral votes are awarded disclosed Tuesday that they had received $538,000 from a list of donors who have contributed to a variety of presidential candidates.

The required disclosure to the California secretary of state helps to dispel the notion that Republican candidate Rudolph W. Giuliani is behind the measure. The initiative received its initial $175,000 from a top Giuliani backer, Wall Street mogul Paul E. Singer. Others involved in the effort also have ties to the former New York City mayor.

"It could not be [seen as] a Giuliani effort," said Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who is overseeing the campaign. "It can't be tainted by any presidential campaign."

The campaign is expected to file more reports in coming days as backers raise $2 million to place the measure on the June 2008 ballot. With one exception, the donors disclosed Tuesday are Californians. Federal election records show they have given to each of the major GOP presidential candidates. One has donated the maximum to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner -- even though Democrats fiercely oppose the initiative.

Backers said they would meet the deadline of the end of November to compile enough signatures -- 434,000 registered voters -- to place it on the ballot. They are using a combination of paid and volunteer signature gatherers, as well as Internet and direct-mail appeals.

If it is placed on the ballot and wins voter approval, the initiative would help the Republican presidential nominee in California. Instead of the current winner-take-all system of awarding electoral votes, they would be awarded based on the winner in each of the state's congressional districts. With Republicans holding 19 congressional seats, the GOP nominee would presumably win at least that many districts, giving them almost as many electoral votes as the state of Ohio, with 20.

The largest single donor revealed in Tuesday's filing was the California Republican Party ($80,000), followed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) at $59,700. Issa has not yet endorsed a presidential candidate.

Former Univision chairman Jerrold Perenchio, who is backing Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign, donated $50,000, as did Silicon Valley venture capitalist E. Floyd Kvamme, a Giuliani backer.

Robert A. Day, chairman of Trust Company of the West, gave $45,000 to the ballot measure. A major GOP donor, Day is another McCain contributor. Day and his wife, Kelly, also donated $4,600 each this year to Clinton, the Democratic front-runner. Day also donated $2,300 to Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), another Democratic presidential candidate.

Newport Beach investor Duane R. Roberts gave $50,000 to the effort. Hehas given $2,300 to McCain, Giuliani and ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

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