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Cable group sponsors Democratic golf fundraiser

March 18, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • A glider flies over the 12th green on the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf Course in January.
A glider flies over the 12th green on the South Course at Torrey Pines Golf… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Democratic state senators gathered in La Jolla over the weekend to enjoy rounds of golf and high-priced meals and lodging at an annual fundraiser paid for largely by an association of cable television companies seeking favorable treatment on legislation.

The 2013 Pro Tem Cup hosted by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg at Torrey Pines Golf Course is a major fundraiser for the state Democratic Party.

The event’s lead sponsor each year is the California Cable and Telecommunications Assn., which last year reported contributing $100,000 to the party around the time of the fundraiser. The firm also contributed $100,000 the same day to the California Republican Leadership Fund.

In 2012, the association separately spent $158,000 lobbying state lawmakers for favorable votes on several bills that affect the industry. Other special interest groups could become  Platinum Sponsors of the fundraiser for $65,000, which came with rounds of golf Friday and Saturday, hotel lodging, barbecue and gifts. Lower level sponsorships were also available.

Firms that contributed to the Democrats on Friday included E & J Gallo Winery, which gave $25,000.

Some good-government groups have criticized the annual fundraiser saying it has the appearance of special interests trying to buy favor.

But Jason Kinney, a consultant for the Senate Democrats, denied there was anything improper about the big-money sponsorships.

"There was never, nor will there ever be, any expectation or connection between actual policymaking by Democratic Senators and any outside political fundraising. Period. The end,’’ Kinney said in an email.

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 patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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