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Millionaires and billionaires give big

California's billionaires and millionaires are a politically active lot, according to a new survey by the state's ethics agency, which says the top 10 individuals who contributed campaign cash during the last decade gave $266.6 million to their pet political causes and candidates.

Leading the list is Los Angeles billionaire Steve Bing, a film producer and heir to a real estate fortune, who tallied $58 million in political contributions. About $40 million of that was Bing's support for Proposition 87, a tax on the oil industry defeated on the 2006 state ballot after petroleum firms spent  some $45 million.

Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, who is currently writing personal checks to help his campaign for governor, placed No. 2 on the list, having made $43.2 million in political contributions during the 10 years ended Dec. 31.

Steve Westly, former state controller and gubernatorial candidate, made $41.7 million in contributions during the decade, while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote checks for $25.8 million, former Univision Chair Jerry Perenchio contributed $23.2 million, and former EBay chief Meg Whitman put $19.6 million into campaigns. That does not include the millions Whitman has put into her own campaign this year for governor.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission compiled the list, according to executive director Roman Porter,  so that the public will be able to ``see the influence of money not only from corporations, unions and other groups but also from individuals who have a large stake in the political process.''

The full list can be found at the website for the agency.

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

 
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