AD-55: Chang Has One of OC’s Largest Warchests, but Chen’s is Twice as Large
Posted by Chris Nguyen on February 13, 2014
Campaign finance numbers indicate that voters in AD-55 can look forward to an obscene amount of mail in the run-up to the June Primary. Ling-Ling Chang wields one of the largest warchests of any candidate who will appear on the 2014 ballot anywhere in Orange County. However, Phillip Chen has more than double her cash on hand.
Other than Yorba Linda Mayor Craig Young, every declared candidate in the race is a resident of Los Angeles County. This tri-county Assembly district contains portions of Orange County (Brea, La Habra, Placentia, and Yorba Linda), LA County (Diamond Bar, Industry, Rowland Heights, Walnut, and West Covina), and San Bernardino County (Chino Hills). Orange County is home to the plurality of all AD-55 voters and the majority of AD-55′s Republican voters.
Here at OC Political, we’ve railed repeatedly against $100,000 paper tiger loans. (These loans of $100,000 or less are frequently used by candidates to artificially inflate their warchest numbers. While OC Political has many posts about those, this one is probably the seminal post on the issue.) Both Chang and Chen gave themselves these $100,000 paper tiger loans, but they seem even more ridiculous in AD-55 than in other districts, considering the significant warchests wielded by both Chen and Chang. (The OC Political post on AD-55 campaign finances from the last reporting period was entitled, “AD-55: Land of the $100,000-Loan Paper Tigers,” and was even picked up by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.)
I will give Chen credit for actually spending his own money, as I did for AD-73 Candidate Paul Glaab who put in $22,000 of his own money. Chen put his money where his mouth is by donating $50,000 to his own campaign beyond the $100,000 loan he made to his campaign. State campaign finance regulations put that $50,000 forever out of Chen’s reach; it is nonrefundable, and he must spend it on the campaign. Chen was well aware of this regulation and properly reported the $50,000 as a contribution, not a loan.
Chang, a Diamond Bar Councilwoman, had a strong showing in the first half of 2013, raising $195,348. Her expenditures were primarily for slate mailers and fundraising expenses. While her showing for the second half of 2013 was not as strong, her $40,217 raised outpaced every candidate in AD-74, AD-73, and AD-55, except for one. Unfortunately for her, the one is her opponent, Chen. Chang spent $31,503 in 2013 and has an additional $4,192 in unpaid bills. Once her $100,000 loan is accounted for, Chang has $172,267 cash on hand.
Chen, a Walnut Valley Unified School District Trustee and a staffer for LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, entered the race late in the first half of 2013, so he raised nothing by June 30, except for his massive transfer of $219,000 on June 27 from his school board account (Outside of LAUSD, are there any school board members in Southern California who have ever had such a huge warchest?). However, that entire sum was raised into his school board account from February 7-June 15, so presumably, his donors were expecting him to use that money to run for the Assembly, and indeed many of them gave him $4,100 (the maximum that can be legally donated for an Assembly race; school boards have no contribution limits). In the second half of 2013, Chen raised $141,242, transferred in another $3,000 from his school board account, and personally donated $50,000. He spent $53,833 in 2013 and has an additional $1,635 in unpaid bills. Chen’s expenditures ran the gamut, including campaign literature, slate mailers, consulting fees, and a poll. Once his $100,000 loan is accounted for, Chen has $357,974 cash on hand.
Young, the sole Orange County resident in the race, entered the race during the second half of 2013, during which time, he raised $30,758 and spent $20,928, leaving him with $9,830 cash on hand. Young’s expenditures were nearly all consulting fees. He is the only candidate in the race who made no transfers, has no loans, and has no unpaid bills.
Chang, Young, and Tye no longer have to fear any more transfers from Chen’s school board account, which only has $1,696 left in it. Chang actually substantially outraised Chen for this Assembly race (her $235,565 for 2013 versus his $141,242), but she’s massively behind in cash-on-hand thanks to that absolutely massive school board account that Chen moved into his Assembly account.
For visual learners:
|Expenditures||Cash on Hand
|Notes: Figures may be off by one dollar due to rounding.|
To demonstrate the shear size of the AD-55 warchests, I’ll compare them with the ones in AD-73 and AD-74. Chang raised more money in the first half of 2013 than all of the AD-74 candidates combined in the entirety of their campaigns, and she has more cash-on-hand than all the AD-74 candidates combined (even if you include all the AD-74 candidate loans and exclude Chang’s loan). Chang also has more cash-on-hand than all the AD-73 candidates combined. Keeping all of that in mind, now remember that Chen has twice as much cash-on-hand that Chang does. Clearly, AD-55 will be the glitziest Assembly race on the June 2014 ballot in Orange County.