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The San Francisco Chronicle
Mar 04, 2005 - 01:00 AM

by John M. Hubbell, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Univision exec leading donor in support of special election

The political action committee backing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest ballot-measure drive has raised $1.7 million in just over two months, campaign finance reports revealed Thursday -- nearly all of it from an executive who was already one of the governor's top donors.

Campaign finance disclosure statements for the business-backed initiative group Citizens to Save California released Thursday by the Secretary of State's office show that $1.5 million came from Jerry Perenchio, a Univision television executive. Perenchio gave $792,400 to Schwarzenegger's re-election committee during the governor's first year in office.

Of the 12 other donors listed, six also gave money to the governor last year, according to Jamie Court of the Foundation for Consumer and Taxpayer Rights, a nonpartisan advocacy group critical of Schwarzenegger's fund-raising tactics.

Nine donors to the committee -- from San Diego hotel owner Anne L. Evans to Sacramento real estate developer Michael Lyon -- gave $10,000. Others who gave more included Atlas Hotels of San Diego ($25,000); real estate developer Malin Burnham ($50,000); and KB Home of Los Angeles ($30,000).

Only one of the 13 -- the Pasha Group, a Corte Madera-based transportation and logistics firm -- is from the Bay Area.

Many donations were made Wednesday, the day after Schwarzenegger blasted the Democratic Legislature for not enacting a sweeping set of recently unveiled proposals on redistricting, education and public pensions, and began gathering signatures for ballot initiatives voters may face in a special election in November.

Committee spokesman Reed Dickens said Thursday that backers are "excited about the support" indicated by the early donations.

But Democrats portrayed them as fresh evidence Schwarzenegger's populist themes are but a veneer.

"He's going to shatter all records once again," said Steve Maviglio, deputy chief of staff for Assembly Speaker Fabian Nez (D-Los Angeles. "He's well on track to exceed his own goal of $50 million."

As the governor does, Maviglio vowed Thursday, "you'll see the Democrats raise money in a way they never have before -- on a grassroots level."

A court hearing is scheduled this morning on a lawsuit by Schwarzenegger and Citizens to Save California that seeks to overturn a state regulation limiting his fund-raising efforts.

Schwarzenegger and the group want to quash the new rule, which bars campaign committees from raising unlimited funds if the group is controlled by a politician.

The regulation was adopted by the Fair Political Practices Commission to close a loophole exploited by politicians -- most aggressively by Schwarzenegger -- in which candidates used ballot measure committees to circumvent donation limits.

Schwarzenegger -- who has been appearing at fundraisers for the group -- was allowed to intervene on the plaintiffs' side in the case last month without opposition. But he is now trying to stop his opponents from getting involved as well.

The California Public Interest Research Group is hoping to intervene on the defense side, to aide the Fair Political Practices Commission in defending the regulation. Schwarzenegger has filed three briefs in the case opposing their involvement, saying they have no direct stake in the outcome of the proceeding.
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Chronicle staff writer Christian Berthelsen contributed to this report.
E-mail John M. Hubbell at jhubbell@sfchronicle.com




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