BY JIM MILLER
SACRAMENTO BUREAU
jmiller@pe.com

Published: 02 June 2012 07:09 PM

SACRAMENTO Independent spending groups last week injected a final blast of money into Inland Southern California races on Tuesday’s ballot.

Through Friday, June 1, various independent expenditure committees had spent at least $2.7 million in federal and state contests in the region, up from about $1.2 million only a few weeks ago.

In Riverside County, several independent-expenditure groups have poured almost $1 million into the 31st state Senate District, deluging voters with mail from Corona to Moreno Valley.

The chart shows Super PAC activity in California House races as of Friday afternoon. Federal Election Commission

Two business-backed groups — the California Senior Advocates League PAC and the California Alliance for Progress and Education — had spent almost $300,000 either opposing Riverside business attorney Richard Roth or supporting Steve Clute, a former Riverside lawmaker.

One of the two Democrats will face Assemblyman Jeff Miller, R-Corona, the presumptive Republican candidate, in the fall. A third committee of unknown funding sources, the Independent Voter PAC, has spent $12,000 supporting Clute and Miller.

Meanwhile, a trio of union-supported committees — Californians for Accountability, Fund for a Working Majority, and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association — had spent $615,000 supporting Roth or opposing Clute.

Senate Democrats back Roth as the strongest contender to win the 31st, one of a handful of swing districts that could determine if Democrats reach a two-thirds majority in the Senate that would allow them to bypass Republicans on tax votes.

Speaking to reporters, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, accused the business groups of “posing as Democrats” to fashion a Clute-vs.-Miller race in the fall.

“The folks who rarely if ever are on the Democratic side are trying to knock out the lead Democrat,” Steinberg said Friday, referring to Roth. “I hope people aren’t fooled by it.”

In other Inland legislative races, the Alliance to Get California Working PAC and the Cooperative of American Physicians Independent Expenditure Committee have spent about $50,000 to support Rialto Councilman Joe Baca Jr., a Democrat, in San Bernardino County’s 47th Assembly District. The Corrections Corporation of America is the alliance committee’s largest donor.

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