What can you do with $38 million in a single year? You can clean up the polluted and undrinkable brown water that comes out of the taps in the City of Maywood and still have $30 million left over.  You can fund the entire California Conservation Corps and have a $3 million left over. You can even fund half of California’s state parks… or you can fund two campaigns in the Republican primary for governor (well, some of it anyway).

$19 million. That’s how much billionaire Meg Whitman has given her campaign to build up her name ID so far. Just months ago, Whitman and her poorly funded opponent Tom Campbell had been statistically tied in a Rasmussen poll. $15 million and two months later, and Whitman now has a commanding lead in the primaries and  is tied with the undeclared Democratic candidate Jerry Brown, overall. As the Los Angeles Times reported back in November:

The costly airtime — with the primary election still seven months away — is just one way the former eBay chief is spending the $19 million of her personal fortune that she has plowed into the race.

The first-time candidate, a Republican, has also paid for an army of advisors, pricey plane rides and a big technology tab. She spent $6 million in the first half of the year.

That sum dwarfed the combined spending of all the other gubernatorial hopefuls: two fellow Republicans, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former Congressman Tom Campbell; and two Democrats, state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom…

Whitman has publicly floated the notion of a record-shattering $150-million campaign budget. That number is turning heads, even among campaign veterans accustomed to deep-pocketed politicos blowing through millions at a time.

This bold, and yet not quite unprecedented, attempt by Whitman to self-fund her way to the governor’s desk was not missed by Steve Poizner. In fact, just two days later, Poizner sent out an email blast to his supporters that included the LA Times article in its entirety.  The message was crystal clear. Both Poizner and Whitman were primary rivals to be the next governor. Both candidates were billionaires who could self-fund their campaigns if they needed to. However, while Poizner was working to earn the respect of the party and its members, Whitman was trying to buy her way to the nomination. Shame on her. Shame, shame on her! So much shame in fact, that Poizner renewed attention to Whitman’s campaign spending earlier this month in another email blast:

My opponent in the Republican primary is planning to shatter all campaign spending records. If she continues to spend money at the rate she’s doing so today, Meg Whitman will spend over $150 million by the time this election is over.

If you want a good indication of how a candidate will govern, keep an eye on how they campaign and how wisely they spend their money.

I can’t disagree with that last sentence, but follow his own advice and you’ll soon realize that Poizner is setting the stage for his own hypocrisy just two weeks later:

California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner will announce Monday that he is putting $15 million of his own money into his Republican primary campaign for governor.

The money – set to be transferred from Poizner’s Silicon Valley-made fortune at the end of December – will bring the total sum he has contributed to just over $19 million.

By Poizner’s own logic, both he and Meg Whitman are fiscally irresponsible candidates running for governor (not a great label to have while running in a Republican Primary in a state with mountains of debt). Worse yet, Poizner is also a hypocrite. Here he is smacking Whitman for spending so much campaign cash, and yet he does the same thing. He even gave himself $7 million more than he gave himself during his run for Insurance Commissioner. That’s some serious money. $19 million serious. You-can-retire-with-that-kind-of-money serious.

Of course, most voters aren’t even paying attention to the race yet, so lucky for him this little Karl Rove-like move won’t get much public notice, but those of us who are watching this race closely should remember this one as the election draws nearer.

Posted on December 15, 2009


Shopping Basket

We hope you can join us on Friday, May 31, 2024 in Los Angeles for an evening of music, drinks, and small bites at LA’s coolest party as we celebrate this year’s Badass in Green Honorees! Through April 26, we are running our Earth Week Special — buy one ticket, get another one free.