Campaign donors stuff pockets of Assembly hopefuls

DOWNEY – Political consultant and former Assemblyman Tom Calderon has jumped out to a $50,000 money-raising lead over Downey Councilman Luis Marquez in the contest for the 58th Assembly seat.

Calderon so far has raised $152,000, according to documents filed for a reporting period ending Dec. 31. He has spent about $18,000 so far.

Click here for Calderon’s financial statements

Marquez has about $103,000, including $25,000 he loaned his campaign. He has $99,000 left in his campaign account.

Click here for Marquez’s financial statements

Calderon, who has a strong base in his Montebello hometown, is a formidable campaigner. He runs a political consulting business, and both his brothers are currently serving in the state legislature.

“We’re happy with our fundraising numbers,” Calderon said in an email. “I think my record of public service in this area and my reputation as an effective leader really helped us get off to a strong start. I wish it wasn’t such an important part of campaigns, but we need money to help tell my story and express my priorities with voters.”

Marquez also has plenty of political experience. He’s a staffer for State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, and two years ago he lost an Assembly bid to Ricardo Lara in the Democratic primary.

“I’m really excited and happy with how well we’re doing,” Marquez said. “In about an 8-week period to reach the level we achieved, I think we’re doing really well. At this point in the campaign last year, we had about a third of the money we have now.”

Marquez and Calderon are the only two Democrats to file for the seat, which represents Downey, Pico Rivera, Montebello, Bell, Bellflower, Artesia, Cerritos and portions of Norwalk. The primary is June 5 and the general election is Nov. 6.

The largest share of Calderon’s money — about $70,000— came from hospitals and medical insurers, according to financial statements for the 2011 calendar year.

Representatives from Pacific Hospital of Long Beach donated $27,300, according to the statement.

The private, for-profit hospital specializes in spine and orthopedic surgeries, according to its website.

Calderon, a former candidate for state insurance commissioner, said he has a lot of history with insurers and healthcare providers..

“As it relates to healthcare specifically, I have a long record advocating for healthcare policies that improve patient care, expand coverage and lower costs,” he wrote. “I’m a former Chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee and I have served on the board or community boards of three local hospitals.”

For Marquez, officials from Celerity Education Group were the biggest contributors. Representatives from the charter school organization donated $14,200 to his campaign.

“For me education is one of the most important issues,” he said. “I look it at all options. Obviously we want to protect public education. I’ve been very pro public school, but we have to make sure we focus on education on all levels. If parents have some more choices, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

Marquez also accepted donations from several companies that have financial contracts with Downey.

He took $3,900 from CalMet services, the city’s garbage hauler. Marquez accepted another $2,500 from Champion Fiat, a dealership that was helped out with land financing by Downey. The city bought the lot in a distressed sale and sold it to the current owner. The lot’s former owner has sued the city, claiming Downey intentionally drove him out of business.

Marquez also accepted $2,000 from the Porto family, which has a redevelopment deal in place with Downey.

“Those donations are within the rules because they benefit the campaign and not me personally,” Marquez said. “But everyone who donates to me knows that I’m not going to vote based on a donation. I’m going to vote based on whatever I think is best for Downey.”

Both candidates declined to comment on the sources of their opponent’s donations.

The campaign has donation limits of $3,900 for each election. So one donor can contribute up to $7,800 — $3,900 for the primary election and $3,900 for the general election. A candidate can’t spend the general election money until after the June 5 primary.



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