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Assemblywoman Beth Gaines once again is getting a campaign boost from a group funded largely by wealthy Stanford physicist Charles T. Munger Jr.

Munger's Spirit of Democracy reported spending about $80,000 on Gaines' behalf last week in her 6th District Assembly race against Andy Pugno, a Folsom attorney.

The two Republicans are fighting to represent a newly drawn Assembly district that is based in Placer County but extends into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.

Of the nearly $80,000 spent to help Gaines, Spirit of Democracy reported using about $50,000 for polling or other research, $17,116 for campaign literature, and $12,500 for professional services.

Spirit of Democracy is funded largely by Munger but also receives contributions from the California Dental Association and California Real Estate Political Action Committee, records show.

Pugno, in the primary, ripped Gaines as a moderate based largely on her support by Munger's group, which spent about $250,000 to help her. Pugno is a Folsom attorney and co-author of Proposition 8, the state's same-sex marriage ban.

Gaines, seeking a second term in the Assembly, is supported by the state GOP and by Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway of Tulare.

Munger was a key financial backer of California's redistricting reform and has pushed the Republican Party to downplay divisive issues such as gun rights, abortion and same-sex marriage. He has contributed $23 million to a committee supporting campaign finance measure Proposition 32 and fighting Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase.


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