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seiuprotest.jpgOne of the reasons Republicans elected Jim Brulte to be chairman of the California Republican Party earlier this year was their faith, among other things, in his ability to raise money.

The former Senate Republican leader is well connected to the donor class, and the party has raised more than $3 million so far this year.

In recent days, those contributions have included an unlikely source: public employee unions.

On Tuesday, Service Employees International Union Local 1000 donated $15,000 to the party.

A California Teachers Association political action committee donated $10,000 earlier this month. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association donated $3,000 to the party in August.

It has been years since these large public employee unions opened their wallets to the state party. The peace officers made donations in 2005 and 2007, and the teachers gave the party $10,000 in 2004.

Labor officials said Brulte has met with their members this year, and that the donations reflect a tentative effort by unions to work with the GOP.

Brulte said, "I reach out to everybody" and that with Republican voter registration under 30 percent in California "you've got to get outside your comfort zones."

However, he noted that the unions that gave money to the party include Republican members, not just Democrats.

"These Republicans have encouraged their leadership to be more bipartisan," he said. "Their leadership is trying to be a little bit more bipartisan. We think that's a good thing."

The donations are unusual, but not large. For bigger contributions the party has Charles Munger Jr. The Republican activist on Wednesday donated another $597,982 to the party.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 1:25 p.m. to include Brulte's remarks.

PHOTO: Members of Service Employees International Union Local 1000 rally at the Capitol on Wednesday, July, 1, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua



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