CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: Is Davis Playing Both Sides Of The Health Care Fence?
In August, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gray Davis "sat before health care providers and assured them that his biggest campaign dollars had not come from unions and trial lawyers," a statement that his contribution records seem to refute. The Los Angeles Times reports that Davis met Aug. 28 in San Francisco with members of Californians Allied for Patient Protection, "a coalition of health care providers that control thousands of dollars in campaign contributions." At the meeting, an audience member asked Davis "how he could remain in their camp when he traditionally received strong financial support from trial lawyers and unions." Davis replied, "Do I feel allegiance? Yes, but not to the groups that the newspapers say I feel allegiance to, 'cause they were not there for me for a variety of reasons." The Times, however, reports that both trial lawyers and unions have in fact contributed more than $7 million to Davis' primary and general election campaigns as of Sept. 30. Davis would not comment, but his campaign manager, Garry South, said Davis' August comments were only "lamenting the extent of labor and trial lawyer support during the first three months of the year."
Strongly Behind Gray
Trial lawyers and unions challenge that allegation, saying they supported Davis financially all along. Perry Kenny, president of the California State Employees Association, said, "Frankly, I seriously doubt he had us in mind when he made those statements. We have been with Gray since the beginning of the primary." Frank Russo, president of the California Applicants Attorneys Association, said, "We've suffered under 16 long years of Republican governors. ... Our members are overwhelmingly supporting Gray Davis." The Times notes that current spending by attorneys and unions outstrips their spending in past governor's and senate races. For Davis, it has "been both a blessing and a curse. While providing a strong financial base, it also impeded his ability to raise money from groups that have vastly different agendas from unions or trial lawyers." Davis mostly supports the positions advocated by trial lawyers and unions, but in at least one instance he disagrees, opposing a $250,000 increase in malpractice caps. South said, "They know they aren't going to get everything they want out of Gray, but they feel a lot more comfortable with him than they do with Dan Lungren," Republican gubernatorial candidate. Lungren and Davis are expected to spend a collective $45 million for their campaigns by election day. The health care coalition to which Davis spoke Aug. 28 did in fact make a $40,000 contribution to his campaign, according to the Times (Ellis, 10/21).