California Watch
A Project of the Center for Investigative Reporting
Money and Politics

April 29, 2010 | Lance Williams

Her ties to Goldman Sachs may have slowed her momentum, but GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is coming off an extraordinary successful quarter – at least when it comes to campaign finance.

In the three months ending April 26, Whitman raised an astonishing $43.38 million, state records show.

That’s an equally astonishing $480,000 per day.

Of course, $40 million of the $43.38 million came in the form of two checks the wealthy former eBay CEO wrote to herself on April 5 and April 6.

Nevertheless, it’s a lot of political cash, even if it didn’t come from the grass roots.

As Whitman’s campaign unfolds, a California Watch analysis shows that she continues to rely on her own funds for campaign expenditures to a degree never before seen in California politics.

The $79 million that she has donated to her own campaign represents 85 percent of her war chest. Put another way, political supporters are contributing only 15 cents for every $1 Whitman spends.

To repeat the question we asked when we first looked at the issue Jan. 26 – who gives money to a candidate with such deep pockets?

Bundled donations from corporations where Whitman has a personal connection continue to be a significant source of campaign cash from the outside, the records show.

The biggest bundle comes from eBay, where Whitman made her fortune. A total of 49 executives of eBay and its PayPal subsidiary have combined to give her $178,500.

Employees of another place where Whitman once worked – Bain & Co., the Boston consulting firm where Whitman started her career in the 1980s – have given $164,650. Executives from the Food 4 Less supermarket chain pitched in $129,500, and the top brass of the popular Panda Express chain gave $127,350.

Whitman also continues to obtain donations via her connection with the Goldman Sachs investment bank, although they’ve slowed.

Whitman is a former corporate director at Goldman and part of her $1.2 billion fortune is invested in Goldman funds. While at eBay, she steered investment banking business to Goldman and obtained lucrative insider stock deals from the firm, records show.

In recent weeks, Democrats have taken to flailing her on a daily basis for her connection to the firm, which is now under investigation for fraud by the SEC. In a website parody of the Wall Street Journals’ front page, the California Labor Federation charges that, “Meg Whitman got rich the Wall Street way – through scams, shady insider deals and mortgage-backed securities that resulted in countless Americans losing their homes and jobs.”

Present and former Goldman executives have given her a total of $114,500, records show. But she’s obtained only $4,000 in the last three months, from two Los Angeles-based Goldman investment managers, Jason Silletti and John Mallory.

Whitman’s biggest individual donors are Florida developer Gary Morse and his wife, Rene. Earlier this month, each gave Whitman $51,800 – that’s a maximum legal donation of $25,900 for the primary, doubled down for the general campaign as well.

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