Anaheim is once again awash in campaign spending, with Disneyland filling the coffers of political action committees that support current city council majority while unions and other progressive funders spend heavily to transform the city's electoral system.
The most recent campaign finance reports show the mega resort contributing more than $259,000 to PACs supporting incumbents seeking reelection in November -- significantly outpacing contributions in 2012, the last time council seats were up for reelection.
Meanwhile, the records show unions, the American Civil Liberties Union and progressive nonprofits contributing more than $350,000 to support an initiative that would scrap the city's at-large voting system for one that elects council members by district, a change that supporters say would result in adequate representation for the city’s majority Latino and working-class residents.
Disneyland also contributed $40,000 to the council-districts campaign, a move that could be seen as a hedging of its bets.
The big money is in the form of independent expenditures, which can fund PACs but can't go directly into the coffers of specific candidates. However, some of Disneyland's money has flowed from the PACs into the campaigns of incumbent councilwomen Kris Murray and Gail Eastman.
Here's a detailed rundown:
Disneyland’s Heavy Political Spending
* Since last year, Disney has contributed $115,000 to the Orange County Taxpayers Association Political Action Committee, including an $80,000 donation on Aug. 12 this year.
The PAC spent $48,168 on Aug. 15, Sept. 9 and Oct. 11 on mailers supporting Murray and a contribution to her campaign.
Then, the PAC funneled $50,000 total on July 30 and Aug. 15 to another PAC called Strong Orange County Neighborhoods, which so far this month has spent over $63,000 on mailers supporting Murray.
* The mega resort has also contributed $41,813 to the Support Our Anaheim Resort PAC, which has also received contributions from other powerbrokers such as Orange County Business Council President Lucy Dunn, and Yellow Cab of Greater Orange County Vice President Larry Slagle.
The SOAR PAC has spent over $84,000 on mailers and signs supporting Eastman and nearly $40,000 promoting Murray.
* The Orange County Business Council’s BIZ PAC has received nearly $103,000 from Disney since last year. Other large contributors include the National Association of Realtors Fund, developer Robert L. Mayer Jr., oil company Chevron, and auto sales business Hardin Hyundai.
The BIZ PAC has funneled $65,000 to the Strong Orange County Neighborhoods PAC that supports Murray.
Breaking Down Spending on Council Districts Initiative:
The council-districts PAC has received $356,560.36 in contributions so far, the filings show. Large donors include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Orange County Federation of Labor, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, among others.
And the nonprofit Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, which is itself heavily union funded, has contributed $49,000.
Meanwhile, San Francisco-based PowerPAC.ORG and the committee it controls have donated $50,000 to the campaign. The money for that donation came from Susan Sandler, the daughter of billionaire philanthropists Herbert Sandler and the late Marion Sandler.
PowerPAC.ORG’s stated mission is to help candidates of color get elected.