The Sacramento Bee: Connecting the donor dots in California outside spending campaigns

By Jim Miller

Equality California’s name is synonymous with the years-long fight over civil rights for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people, with the Los Angeles organization’s influence extending well beyond California.

But it’s dentists, energy companies and the real-estate industry that have donated much of the money for Equality California’s six-figure spending in a pair of legislative races on the June 7 ballot.

The organization has spent almost $190,000 to support Scott Wiener, a Democrat running for the San Francisco-based 11th Senate District, and $52,000 for Anna Caballero, a Democrat running in the Salinas-centered 30th Assembly District.

“They’ve become a pass-through for corporate-backed interests,” Eric Jaye, the political consultant for Jane Kim, Wiener’s Democratic rival, said of the group. Not true, countered Rick Zbur, Equality California’s executive director. “We do take money from business interests. We determine our endorsements independently,” he said.

As of midweek, more than 50 outside spending groups had pumped more than $19.5 million of TV ads, mailers and other advocacy into almost four dozen Assembly and Senate races on next month’s ballot.

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