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As Maya Angelou famously said: believe them the first time.

There’s to be a one-two in the old AD62/new AD61 following on the heels of Autumn Burke’s abrupt resignation from the State Assembly on February 1, 2022. A special election in the old AD62 has already started for her short-lived replacement, to be followed by selection of her permanent AD61 successor in California’s primary elections on June 7, 2022. Calmatters has a terrific tool to find your new districts (not just Assembly, but Senate and Congressional) here. This map from them shows the overlap of old (yellow) and new (purple):

Figure 1: Overlay of the newly redistricted AD62 which becomes AD61 for the primary elections of June 7, 2022. A special election in the old AD62 will be held first, on April 5, 2022. Early voting has already started and vote centers are found here.

Figure 1: Overlay of the newly redistricted AD62 which becomes AD61 for the primary elections of June 7, 2022. A special election in the old AD62 will be held first, on April 5, 2022. Early voting has already started and vote centers are found here.

In a by-now familiar recapitulation of our royal British forebears, the Burke family is another of these inherited political dynasties we’re so fond of Californiaside. By resigning shy of the term, Ms Burke is able to influence and endorse her successor, who then runs as an “incumbent” with its incumbent advantages. This machinery launched already when the California Democratic Party (CDP) delegates from LA County’s Central Dem Committee (LACDP) voted all-in on Burke’s former District aide, Robert Pullen-Miles, for “pre-endorsement” last month. The CDP’s endorsement is for the general election to the new AD61, and not as the candidate has implied, for this current, special election of April 5, 2022. But that’s a fine distinction easily overlooked. A serial office-seeker, the precipitous departure of his boss was exquisitely timed for preemption by Pullen-Miles. His anointed time would appear to be Now. But why?

During an online forum recently, a question there possibly from a paid troll, belabored the money coming to the special election candidates. It was claimed that Tina McKinnor was financing her campaign with “$ from the Democratic Party.” During a long career behind the scenes as electoral, campaign and government support-staff, former operations director of the CDP, McKinnor, was party to a lawsuit for sexual harassment and workplace retaliation against the state Party’s former Chair, Eric Bauman. As operations manager she was essentially a whistleblower, one of several plaintiffs in three subsequently filed – and settled – lawsuits.

Suss provenance of the question notwithstanding, this race is rife with political maneuvering. Its money deserves scrutiny.

Autumn Burke, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

Autumn Burke, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke

The Secretary of State’s database of contributions, calaccess, unfurls a string of campaign committees for Pullen-Miles, the earliest of which terminated in 1996. The LA Times archives show him finishing 20th in a field of twenty for Compton Unified School Board in 1993. He was an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1996 and began affiliating with Democrats sometime before a failed special election campaign for AD51 in 2009. He has served these same political waters for so long that perhaps now he has simply outlasted his opponents in bidding for the favor of South LA’s old-guard. A one-time vocal supporter of proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage, his views remain ultra-conservative. He opposes single-payer healthcare, unapologetically boosts “small” business like… Target? And welcomes oil/gas, hotels, developer and automotive money.

Angie Reyes English has centered her operations around tiny Hawthorne’s city hall for many decades as clerk and city counselor there and sometime aide to various other elected officials in the region. She claims the progressive mantle of “corporate-free” funding, but there is concerning corporate money among her donations all the same. At the opposite end of the district physically and demographically, Nico Ruderman is a movie industry soundman who became involved with local Venice politics as traffic, homeless and development issues compounded a lot of westside political turmoil from the past decades.

These candidates are from opposite (Reyes English, Ruderman), and also from overlapping (Pullen-Miles, McKinnor), realms. And while the source of their monies cannot explain specific or personal contingencies, comparing the relative distribution of their monies can nicely differentiate the candidates. The differences are quite distinct and comparing their support does in fact tell “who they are”.

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Figure 2 categorizes contributions to each candidate by general industry. Contributions are from 2022 only, and do not include candidates’ loans or gifts or rollovers from previous campaigns to the present.

Figure 2 categorizes contributions to each candidate by general industry. Contributions are from 2022 only, and do not include candidates’ loans or gifts or rollovers from previous campaigns to the present.

Figure 2, enumerated in table 1, reflects the relative proportion of each candidate’s monies by industry*. Both McKinnor and Pullen-Miles are distinguished by years of work in the public sector. Each exhibits outsized contributions from policy-makers in the public and private sector, but McKinnor’s translates to nearly 2.5x the proportion as Pullen-Miles’ (figure 2), including current and past elected officials, staffers and other government workers. The distributions are detailed in table 2 below, revealing that special interests and groups contribute to McKinnor while the bulk of Pullen-Miles’ “policy”-support is from individuals. See the table 3 series below for specifics.

Table 1 lists figure 2 contributions highlighting differentiating industry-classes of contributions.

Table 1 lists figure 2 contributions highlighting differentiating industry-classes of contributions.

But McKinnor’s donations reflect a very distinct and large set of donations from self-identified “retired” or unemployed individuals specifically. There is sizable philanthropic and nonprofit and “community-based organization” (CBO), Public-Private Partnership (PPP), “social-impact” support (eg, CA Donor Table, LA Voice, etc) channeling through McKinnor. These flow from within the category of retired individuals, as well as that of nonprofits and tech as well, detailed in table 3d.

Table 2. Comparison of contributions to candidates by general industry further categorized by occupation. Yellow highlights important occupation differences between and among candidates; orange highlights sizable industry contributions. All data from 2022 only, with no candidate loans or gifts or rollovers from previous campaigns to the current.

Table 2. Comparison of contributions to candidates by general industry further categorized by occupation. Yellow highlights important occupation differences between and among candidates; orange highlights sizable industry contributions. All data from 2022 only, with no candidate loans or gifts or rollovers from previous campaigns to the current.

Real estate is another prime distinction between candidates. More than a quarter of Pullen-Miles’ money comes from the housing industry, mostly via contractors and property management, while Ruderman’s comes primarily from developers. More than a third of Ruderman’s contributions (figure 2) are beholden to this sector, a sharp departure from his three opponents all with a history of public service and contributions to reflect it.

Ruderman shares constituency of the business sector with Pullen-Miles. Approaching half of Pullen-Miles’ money comes from the business world, including hotels and hospitality, as well as general and automotive retail there (table 2). Ruderman’s and also Reyes English’s contributions are likewise business oriented. Hers includes some law enforcement money and both reflect professional service in PR, Marketing and writing. Ruderman’s own professional background mirrors considerable support from professional service providers like lawyers, healthcare and insurance providers.

Ruderman’s position on single-payer healthcare is unclear but Pullen-Miles, with similarly outsized donations from this special interest, is clear he is opposed to it. In keeping with this tilt toward big business, Pullen-Miles accepts money directly from energy entities such as Sempra, Edison and Chevron. And indirectly from a consortium of seven entities including {Chevron, Marathon, Phillips and Valero}, that have collectively contributed upwards of 13 million dollars just since 2019 toward an independent expenditure committee, that has in turn spent $312,670 supporting Pullen-Miles.

Table 3a. Angie Reyes-English, all reported past contributions to 3/25/22. Including contributions, loans and roll-overs to self from previous campaigns, reflecting potentially inaccurate totals due to carry-overs.

Table 3a. Angie Reyes-English, all reported past contributions to 3/25/22. Including contributions, loans and roll-overs to self from previous campaigns, reflecting potentially inaccurate totals due to carry-overs.

Table 3b. Nico Ruderman, all reported past contributions to 3/25/22 (including from 2017). Includes contributions, loans and roll-overs to self from previous campaigns, reflecting potentially inaccurate totals due to carry-overs.

Table 3b. Nico Ruderman, all reported past contributions to 3/25/22 (including from 2017). Includes contributions, loans and roll-overs to self from previous campaigns, reflecting potentially inaccurate totals due to carry-overs.

Table 3c. Robert Pullen-Miles, all reported past contributions to 3/25/22. Including contributions, loans and roll-overs to self from previous campaigns, reflecting potentially inaccurate totals due to carry-overs. 2022 grand total including rollover is $293,801.

Table 3c. Robert Pullen-Miles, all reported past contributions to 3/25/22. Including contributions, loans and roll-overs to self from previous campaigns, reflecting potentially inaccurate totals due to carry-overs. 2022 grand total including rollover is $293,801.

Table 3d. Tina McKinnor, all reported past contributions to 3/25/22. Including contributions, loans and roll-overs to self from previous campaigns, reflecting potentially inaccurate totals due to carry-overs.

Table 3d. Tina McKinnor, all reported past contributions to 3/25/22. Including contributions, loans and roll-overs to self from previous campaigns, reflecting potentially inaccurate totals due to carry-overs.

So the choice reduces to synergy with BigBusiness and Energy, BigPhilanthropy and Government, BigBuilders and Investors or underscrutinized fringe municipalities and the operators around it.

Past alliance is the best indicator of future allegiance; these filings are showing you who the candidates are. It’s a tough choice, but if you don’t do it, someone else will do it for you: Vote in-person at a center near you, or drop your signed ballot into a USPS or special County collection box (find their locations at lavote.gov or check out your local branch library). By Tuesday, April 5, 2022 please!

Sara Roos
RedQueenInLA

* A note on methods. These data are from the CA Secretary of State campaign finance database, downloaded Friday, March 25, 2022. They include donations to both the AD62 Special and AD61 primary elections for which all four candidates have qualified and are running. Candidate’s roll-over funds from previous races or loans or money given to themselves or their campaign, can affect subtotals. These are therefore omitted from tables where support is compared between candidates. To understand a given candidate’s overall support these data are reported otherwise as indicated. Categorization is a work-in-progress. Assignments are made quickly and undoubtedly reflect sporadic errors in judgement or occasionally fact. Labels reflect not the full spectrum of industry possibilities but what appears among these donors. As the distribution changes with time or across candidates, so too could and arguably should the labels. Crowd-sourced corrections are welcomed.