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Two donations for the price of one?

Assembly candidate Andy Pugno made supporters an offer today that he hopes they can't refuse: For every dollar donated to his debt-ridden campaign this week, an equal amount will be sent to the group defending Proposition 8, the state's same-sex marriage law, in its fight at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"This would be an offer to both support my campaign and help support a charitable cause at the same time," the Republican candidate and Folsom attorney told The Bee.

Pugno's fundraising appeal said that a "generous financial supporter of Proposition 8" will match up to $25,000 in campaign contributions he receives through Sunday.

Pugno declined to identify the "generous donor" who will provide the matching contributions to defend Proposition 8, but he said that person could not have stepped forward at a better time.

Pugno's campaign is entering the final weeks before Nov. 6 balloting and his fundraising appeal noted that the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide the fate of Proposition 8 soon after the election.

"So please make a special donation of any size today and allow this generous donor's amazing act of charity to double the impact of your gift," Pugno's e-mail to supporters said.

Pugno said his solicitation was sent to more than 3,000 people who previously had contributed to his campaign. He said a similar appeal before the June primary raised $17,000.

Pugno, a Folsom attorney, is co-author of Proposition 8 and general counsel for the nonprofit group defending the initiative, which was passed by voters in 2008 but struck down by a federal appellate court. A petition to reinstate the same-sex marriage ban was filed with the High Court in August.

Bob Stern, co-author of the state's Political Reform Act, said that he has never before heard of a legislative candidate issuing a two-for-one fundraising appeal but that state law does not prohibit it.

Gary Winuk, chief enforcement officer for the state Fair Political Practices Commission, agreed that a two-for-one appeal is legal as long as Pugno reports all contributions he receives.

Pugno, seeking the newly drawn 6th Assembly District seat, finished behind Gaines, of Rocklin, in the June primary. He has struggled to raise funds since then. His campaign reported cash of $29,314 and debts of $132,205 through Sept. 30.

Pugno personally is owed $100,000 that he loaned his Assembly campaign before the primary, records show.

Dave Gilliard, Gaines' campaign manager, said that he suspects Pugno's fundraising appeal is designed to pay himself back the money he's owed. Pugno has done little visible campaigning since June, Gilliard said.

The 6th District is based in Placer county but stretches into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.



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