The California Teachers Association has spent more than $200 million on campaign contributions and lobbying efforts in the last decade, leading what the Fair Political Practices Commission calls a "billion-dollar club" of moneyed political interests.
The FPPC's report, entitled "Big Money Talks," delves into the 25 biggest - at least in financial terms - political players in the state, which have collectively spent $1.3 billion on political action in the last 10 years.
"This tsunami of special interest spending drowns out the voices of average voters," FPPC chairman Ross Johnson said in a statement, "and intimidates political opponents and elected officials alike."
The $211.9 million spent by the CTA is nearly twice as much as the $107.5 million committed by the second-highest spender, the California State Council of Service Employees, but after those two union groups, the remaining 13 on the Top 15 list are all either business groups, such as No. 3 Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($104.9 million), individual corporations or casino-owning Indian tribes, which have three of the 15 top spots.
Collectively, the top 15 spent just over $1 billion during the decade, while the next 10 spent $271 million. They are also a mixture of unions, businesses and Indian tribes.
The report provides details on each big spender's campaign contributions and lobbying expenses, and identifies their spending on ballot measures, which generally consumed far more of the total than contributions to politicians or lobbying expenses. The CTA, for example, directed $144.1 million into ballot measures, including more than $50 million to defeat a series of 2005 measures sponsored by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The full report can be found at the FPPC's website here.