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PG&E gives big to L.A. County Democratic Party but gets little

April 12, 2010 |  2:50 pm

When the Los Angeles County Democratic Party deposited a $175,000 check from PG&E earlier this month, quite a few in the political world took notice -- especially considering the fact that the money arrived only weeks before the county party was set to stake out its position on a June ballot measure, Proposition 16, put on the ballot by the utility company.

But every once in a while, money doesn’t prevail in politics. On Saturday, the county party’s ballot measure committee voted unanimously to oppose the PG&E-backed measure, said Chairman Eric Bauman.

"Have you ever heard of Jesse Unruh?" asked Bauman. He was referring to the former Assembly speaker who once famously said, as Bauman paraphrased it: "If you can’t take their money, drink their liquor and spend time with their women, you shouldn’t be in this business."

The PG&E contribution represents more than 10% of the county party’s roughly $1.3-million budget for the year, Bauman said. "There was no attempt to lobby us," he said of PG&E’s support for Proposition 16.

The county party's full membership is set to vote Tuesday evening to officially oppose the measure.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

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