The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 18, 2012
California firefighters' political spending reflects grudge

Among the hundreds of campaign expenses incurred by the state firefighters' union political action committees this year, two relatively small line items reflect a grudge the organization has held for years.

The California Department of Forestry Firefighters Small Contributor PAC made 147 contributions to state and local candidate campaigns in 2012. It also made two independent expenditures totaling $10,500 to oppose Curt Stracener's bid to keep his El Dorado County Superior Court judgeship.

Before former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the bench in 2010, Stracener worked as a senior litigator for the administration who helped shape furlough strategy.

When Stracener ran to retain his seat, the firefighters countered with a campaign tying him to Schwarzenegger with a website picturing the two men together over a caption, "Two of a kind." .

Stracener won re-election in the conservative county.

Stracener's race accounted for a tiny fraction of the $1.39 million the 3,700-member union spent through its two PACs. Some $821,000 went to campaigns and $267,000 went to independent expenditures, according to disclosure documents filed by the organization. Much of the money went into opposing Proposition 32, the failed ballot measure that would have ended payroll-deducted funding of political activities.

About 10 cents of every dollar, some $123,000, paid for "staff/spouse travel, lodging and meals."

As you look through the tables below, tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheets open worksheets with more detailed information.

Remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations given to political campaigns and causes. Late contributions are money that came in after the regular filing deadline.

The data reflects only the contributions by state employee groups and not by larger umbrella organizations with which they may be affiliated.

This is the part of a series detailing the 2012 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Dec. 18, 2012.

To get a sense of similar spending in California by other interest groups, check out the National Institute on Money in State Politics. The California data on that site run through September 2012.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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