One day after LA Councilwoman Janice Hahn told an audience in Venice that "Campaign decisions should not be happening in American's boardrooms. We need far tighter curbs on corporate campaign expenditures." the LA Times is reporting that The Cooperative of American Physicians IE Committee, a PAC which represents medical malpractice insurers, has spent over $50,000 on mailers to support her in the CA-36 race.
In documents filed with the Federal Election Commission, the Cooperative of American Physicians said it spent $51,092 on a mail campaign advocating the election of Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn. Hahn is one of 16 candidates on the May 17 ballot to replace former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman of Venice.
The physicians group is apparently the first to make a so-called independent expenditure in the 36th Congressional District race. Groups are allowed to spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose a candidate so long as they do not coordinate with the candidate's own campaign.
Hahn so far has led the pack in fundraising, outpacing even Secretary of State Debra Bowen, believed to be her strongest competitor for the seat. About half of Hahn's contributions appear to come from lobbyists, developers and others doing business with the city. The next campaign finance reports are due at the FEC on May 5.
Frankly, I think the LA Times is being conservative in their estimate. Dig a little deeper into the numbers, and you'll find that over 70% of Hahn's donations comes from LA City Hall contractors, lobbyists, the nuclear industry and rent control opponents. A year ago, this same PAC partnered with oil, tobacco and other special interests to go after 53D Assemblymember Betsy Butler in the June 2010 primary.
From the L.A. Times, May 20, 2010
A coalition of oil interests, insurance companies, pharmaceutical firms and other business interests has poured at least $480,000 into a mail and television campaign to oppose one of the eight Democrats competing in the June 8 primary for an open Venice/South Bay Assembly seat......
"Groups funded by the Civil Justice Assn. of California and two medical malpractice insurance organizations have spent the money to defeat Betsy Butler, a former fundraiser for two major environmental groups and the Consumer Attorneys of California......
John H. Sullivan, president of the association, which seeks to cut the numbers of "excessive and unwarranted" lawsuits, said his organization objects to candidates whose campaigns "have been heavily supported by plaintiffs' lawyers. In our experience, [they], if elected, do not show much independence when it comes to matters affecting litigation."......
The association, which has spent more than $180,000 to oppose Butler, lists among its 56 board members Altria (parent company of Philip Morris USA), Anthem Blue Cross, Apple Computer Inc., BP,the California Apartment Assn., ExxonMobil Corp., GlaxoSmithKline, Southern California Edison and State Farm Insurance Cos.
Two other committees involved in the campaign against Butler represent medical malpractice insurance interests: California Allied for Patient Protection (which has spent $148,522) and the Cooperative of American Physicians (which has spent $150,000).
So far, no outside groups have reported independent expenditure campaigns for other candidates in the CA-36 race.