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Former GOP leader sets up new charity with leftover campaign cash

December 11, 2012 |  7:01 am

Former state Sen. Jim Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga) has used more than $700,000 in leftover political contributions to set up a new charity organization.

During his years in office, Brulte, who is now a potential candidate for state Republican Party chairman, was known as a prodigious fundraiser. Like many former politicians, he stashed his leftover campaign cash in a political account for an office most expected he would never run for.

Earlier this year, Brulte shut down his campaign account for the Board of Equalization and established a 501(c)(3) organization that he said will focus on charities in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

In an interview Monday, Brulte said his new Inland Empire Foundation will hand out money to other, well-established charities in the area. The timing, he said, has nothing to do with his new interest in becoming the next head of the California Republican Party.

“This is where I live, this is my community,” he said. “I want to give back.” Closing out his political account also allows Brulte to make money on the lecture circuit, something he couldn’t do while he was still technically a candidate for public office.

Under state rules, politicians are limited in how they can spend money from campaign accounts. They can either give the money to another campaign or to a nonprofit organization.

GOP attorney Charles Bell will serve on the board of the foundation, along with Brulte. But the former Senate Republican leader said nobody will draw a salary from the new organization. And because it is a 501(c)(3) charity, it will not be able to participate in politics.

As for the timing of the move, coming weeks before his reported interest in running for state GOP chairman, he said, “It is totally coincidental. If I had any idea I was going to be running for chairman of the party. I wouldn’t have closed my account. I could have used some of the money for my campaign for chairman. Now, I have to go out and raise it.”


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Photo: Former state Sen. Jim Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga) has used more than $710,000 in leftover campaign funds to establish a charity. Credit: Associated Press