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AD-55: Land of the $100,000-Loan Paper Tigers

Posted by Chris Nguyen on August 5, 2013

AD 55 Candidates Phillip Chen and Ling-Ling Chang

AD-55 Candidates and Their Cash on Hand:
Phillip Chen ($219,000) &
Ling-Ling Chang ($147,108)

In OC Political’s ongoing coverage of campaign finance figures, we turn today to the 55th Assembly District, the tri-county district that includes the Orange County cities of Brea, La Habra, Placentia, and Yorba Linda.

There are two candidates who have campaign committees open for AD-55, and both are Republicans from LA County: Walnut Valley Unified School District Trustee Phillip Chen and Diamond Bar City Councilwoman Ling-Ling Chang.

Both Chen and Chang made $100,000 loans to their campaigns in the closing days of June (Chen on June 27 and Chang on June 30).  I’ve written previously about the campaign warchest fiction of $100,000 loans in my post on AD-73 last week:

Generally, $100,000 loans are paper tigers.  They are used to inflate campaign finance figures to impress donors and scare opponents.  However, when the rubber meets the road, 99% of the time, the candidates do not spend their loan money and repay the loans in their entirety after the election.  (The magic of the $100,000 figure for loans is that it is the most state legislative candidates can lend themselves and still get repaid under state law.  If you’re running for the Legislature, and loan yourself $101,000, that extra $1,000 can never be repaid, per the Government Code.)

I also wrote more extensively about $100,000 loans two weeks ago in a post that included information about Chang’s loans and loans from two AD-73 candidates.

The numbers get weirder looking at Chen’s contributions.  Technically, Chen hasn’t raised any money for Assembly.  In addition to the $100,000 loan, his Assembly account received $219,000 in transfers from his school board account, leaving behind only a few thousand dollars in his school board account.  (While Chen technically raised nothing for Assembly, I must say I’m quite impressed that he raised $231,858 for school board from February 7-June 15.  Presumably, a substantial number of his donors knew their money would eventually be transferred to Chen’s Assembly account, especially considering more than half a dozen of his contributors gave $4,100 – the maximum contribution for a legislative race.)

Chang raised $159,262 straight into her Assembly account, with no transfers from her City Council account.

Chen spent nothing from his Assembly account while Chang spent $11,064 and also had $1,090 in unpaid bills.  The majority of Chang’s spending was a single $6,800 expenditure for fundraising paid to Seafood Village RH, a restaurant in Rowland Heights.

Chen claimed $319,000 cash on hand in the press release announcing his bid for the Assembly, which OC Political’s own Allen Wilson posted here.  Specifically, that press release said, “Chen is reporting $334,000 raised through June 30, and $319,000 cash on hand in his newly formed Assembly committee.” Between the loan and his transfers, Chen only had $319,000 ever in the Assembly committee.  He never reached $334,000; that number, though, is the same amount of expenditures reported by Chen’s school board committee (the expenditures consisting of the $219,000 cash transferred, the $100,000 loan transferred, and $15,000 in various expenditures).

It’s press releases like these that make me warn people: Never trust a candidate’s press release about how much money they’ve raised.  Always check the actual campaign finance reports.  Time and again, press releases bragging about how much money is in a campaign account overinflates the numbers.  I’m not singling out Chen, as he just happens to be the one coming across my screen at this point; numerous campaigns have done this.

For visual learners:

Candidate Contributions Contribution
Transfers
Candidate
Loans
Unpaid
Bills
Expenditures Cash on Hand
(COH)
COH Minus
Unpaid Bills
COH Minus
Unpaid Bills
& Loans
Chen $0 $219,000 $100,000 $0 $0 $319,000 $319,000 $219,000
Chang $159,262 $0 $100,000 $1,090 $11,064 $248,198 $247,108 $147,108
Notes: Figures may be off by one dollar due to rounding.

Campaign finance reports for January 1-June 30, 2013 were due last week.

Orange County conservatives may be displeased by four campaign contributions in this race, two each to Chen and Chang:

  • Chen received $1,500 from the community college board campaign account of former Assemblyman Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park).  During his six years in the Legislature, Eng amassed one of the most liberal voting records in the State Assembly (and that’s saying something, considering how liberal the Assembly is), gaining 100% scores from the California Labor Federation four times: in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011 (during his other two years in the Assembly, 2010 and 2012, he fell one vote short of 100%; in other words, Eng voted against labor two times in his six-year legislative tenure).  Additionally, Eng is married to Congresswoman Judy Chu, who similarly has one of the most liberal voting records in the U.S. House of Representatives, even managing to be ranked more liberal than Nancy Pelosi in the National Journal vote ratings.
  • Chen received $500 from the Union of American Physicians & Dentists Medical Defense Fund.  The UAPD is a labor union of doctors and dentists and is affiliated with AFSCME, which bills itself as the nation’s largest public services employee union.
  • Chang received $1,000 from the Association of California State Supervisors PAC.  The ACSS endorsed 59 Democrats and 3 Republicans in last year’s elections for the State Legislature.
  • Chang received $1,000 from the water board campaign account of former Councilman Mike Tuohey (NPP-West Covina), who is a former member of Democratic Municipal Officials, a 527 group that is a constituency organization of the Democratic National Committee.

4 Responses to “AD-55: Land of the $100,000-Loan Paper Tigers”

  1. […] AD-55: Land of the $100,000-Loan Paper Tigers […]

  2. […] is beginning to take note of the $100,000 candidate loans, which OC Political covered in “AD-55: Land of the $100,000-Loan Paper Tigers” (as well as in articles on the BOE-4 race, the AD-73 race, and on loans in […]

  3. […] six months ago, I admonished readers to check the numbers against the press release claims in a post on AD-55.  Some candidates are spinning wildly, but there are other times when candidates’ numbers […]

  4. […] 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 […]

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