Reporting from Sacramento — The 10 people who gave the most money to California political campaigns during the last decade devoted a combined $266.6 million to their pet causes and candidates, a state report said Tuesday.
Leading the list was Los Angeles billionaire Steve Bing, a film producer and heir to a real estate fortune, who made $58 million in such donations, according to the report by the Fair Political Practices Commission. About $40 million of that was in support of a 2006 proposal to tax the oil industry; voters rejected the measure after petroleum companies spent about $45 million opposing it.
State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who is now writing personal checks to help his campaign for governor, was second on the list, with $43.2 million in contributions during the 10 years that ended Dec. 31.
Others on the roster: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote checks for $25.8 million, and former EBay chief Meg Whitman, who is vying to succeed Schwarzenegger in the governor's chair. She put $19.6 million into campaigns, not including the millions she has invested in her gubernatorial run this year.
The list will help the public "see the influence of money not only from corporations, unions and other groups, but also from individuals who have a large stake in the political process," said Roman Porter, the commission's executive director.