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Shriver Donates $300,000 to his Bid for L.A. County Supervisor

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By Jason Islas
Lookout reporter

March 17, 2014 -- With less than three months before the June 3 primary election, former Santa Monica mayor Bobby Shriver has raised the financial stakes in the race for a seat on the powerful Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Shriver -- a member of the Kennedy clan -- donated $300,000 of his own money Monday to his campaign to replace Zev Yaroslavsky, the 3rd District County Supervisor who will leave his seat due to term limits this year.

The move lifts the cap on individual donations to the campaigns of his three challengers. All three chose to limit their total expenditures to $1.4 million in exchange for lifting the individual cap on donations from $300 to $1,500.  

“Ultimately, we're going to do whatever we have to do to be competitive,” said Bill Carrick, Shriver’s chief campaign strategist.

“This is the first competitive Supervisors’ race in decades,” Carrick said. “We’re all in uncharted territory here.”

In 2002, voters imposed term limits on the five Supervisors, sometimes called the “five little kings” because of the amount of power each wields in a post that often ended only with retirement.

For the first time since that law passed, two incumbents -- Yaroslavsky and 1st District Supervisor Gloria Molina -- are barred from running for reelection, leaving their seats wide open. Molina was elected to the board in 1991, Yaroslavsky in 1994.

While Shriver has been accepting donations since he announced his bid in January, they have been limited to $300 per person because he opted not to voluntarily limit his campaign expenses to $1.4 million.

Carrick said $1.4 million is simply not enough to get Shriver’s message out to the nearly two million people -- more than half of whom are registered voters -- who live in the County’s 3 rd District, which includes Malibu, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Brentwood, Calabasas and part of the San Fernando Valley.

Under a 2004 campaign finance law, any candidate that accepts the expenditure limit can accept individual donations as high as $1,500.

That’s exactly what Shriver’s opponent, former State legislator Sheila Kuehl has been doing.

According to campaign finance disclosure forms, Kuehl, who has been campaigning for County Supervisor since last March, has raised nearly half a million dollars.

Now that Shriver has donated his own money to his campaign, however, it eliminates the individual donation caps imposed on the other three candidates, although  they will still be limited to the $1.4 million in expenditures.

Earlier this month, when Shriver submitted documents to the County showing his intention to spend his own money on his campaign, Kuehl sent out an email to her supporters asking for $10,000 donations.

The other two contenders for Yaroslavsky’s seat, West Hollywood City Councilmember John Duran and former Malibu mayor Pamela Conley Ulich, had, like Kuehl, opted to limit their spending in exchange for higher donation limits.

Duran, to date, has raised $170,000 while Ulich, who is campaigning in protest of the “trend to spend” in politics, has raised about $50,000.

This isn’t the first time that Shriver has dipped into his own money to run for office. In 2004, when Shriver made his first bid for City Council, he shattered local records.

Shriver spent $373,000 on his successful City Council bid, $100,000 of which he loaned himself. (“Shriver Shatters Fundraising Record,” February 3, 2005)

The rest of the money Shriver got through individual donations of no more than $250 each, the City’s limit at the time on donations to political campaigns.

Those donations came from hundreds of people, including Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Streisand, Steven Spielberg and Shriver’s powerful relatives.

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