Last week, retired eBay CEO Meg Whitman put $20 million of her own money into her quest for the Republican nomination for governor. Her campaign manager, Jill Hasner, quickly noted that contributors other than Whitman had already pitched in $10.2 million to the campaign, demonstrating “overwhelming donor support from Californians."
Who gives money to a candidate with such deep pockets?
State records show that of the $10.2 million, about $1.6 million came in bundled donations – checks written by several officials from the same corporations who often made their donations at about the same time, often at the legal limit of $25,900.
Executives from eBay, where Whitman was CEO until 2007, have been especially generous. Eleven eBay employees combined to give Whitman $151,600, state records show. She got $25,900 each from CEO John Donahoe, from the head of strategic initiatives, Eskander Kazim, and from Rajiv Dutta, who has headed eBay subsidiaries Skype and Paypal.
Another bundle of donations came from executives at the Boston-based management consulting firm Bain & Co., where Whitman worked in the 1980s before taking a job at Disney. Ten Bain executives combined to give her $134,300. They included partner Thomas Holland, of Orinda ($25,900), and founder William Bain ($18,900.)
Central Valley executives of Food 4 Less supermarkets (a subsidiary of the Midwest’s Krogers chain) combined to donate $103,600: Real estate director Richard Sarris and his wife Toni, of Turlock, together gave $51,800.
Eight executives of the Goldman Sachs investment bank, where Whitman once served on the board of directors, put in $103,600, records show, while seven executives of The Capital Group, a Los Angeles mutual fund manager, combined to donate $80,900.
Finally, the family behind Panda Restauarant Group of Rosemead, the chain of Chinese fast-food eateries, gave $76,800, led by founder Andrew Cherng ($25,900)
It’s only January, and Whitman has already put $39 million of her own money into the campaign. That’s approaching the all-time record for a California governor’s race: in 1998, former Northwest Airlines chief Al Checchi pumped $40 million of his personal fortune into a failed attempt to wrest the Democratic nomination away from the eventual winner, Gray Davis.