Who Donated to Jim McDonnell In 2017? And What To Make Of It?

During 2017, Sheriff McDonnell raised just over $320,000 in campaign contributions.  We thought you might be interested to see who they came from, so you can just click here to see the list.

Here are the main take-aways:

  • While $320,000 is objectively a lot of money for you and me, the figure is substantially lower than where McDonnell was four years ago.  During that election he raised around $2 million total.  His total contributions before the primary election were about $700,000.
  • That the level of financial support given to Sheriff McDonnell is lower than it was last time is noteworthy due to the enormous advantages of being an incumbent.  People are usually eager to donate to an incumbent they believe in or believe to be safe.
  • That McDonnell’s figures are so low for an incumbent may reflect reduced confidence in him due to his lack of many accomplishments since being elected.  They may also reflect his lack of engagement with community groups he appealed to for money and votes in 2014 but has since disappeared from–or from the lack of confidence by LASD’s own deputies.
  • It’s also possible his support last election was a reflection of public disgust over former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka’s shenanigans and hope for a turnaround.  That McDonnell’s past support was a result of context which no longer exists.
  • But the figures may also reflect that he simply doesn’t want to campaign, viewing the sheriff position through the prism of the appointed roles he’s held before.  He may view campaigning as something dirty that he has better things than to do, rather than making sure his priorities are the same as the community’s.
  • This would help explain why many of the donors are current or former LAPD officers, wealthy attorneys, or are “establishment” figures in LA politics.  Based on emails we have seen, it appears many of the donations resulted from house party fundraisers rich people threw and invited their friends to.
  • The list also includes a few politically ambitious LASD employees.  It also includes several employees from Probation and the District Attorney’s office.
  • It’s also possible that many donations have been funneled to an Independent Expenditure committee, such as the “Friends of Jim McDonnell” committee in 2014 run by Galpin Motors General Counsel Alan Skobin.  Skobin is a long-time friend of McDonnell’s, serves as one of his reserve deputies, and was previously an LA Police Commissioner.  Next month numerous other members of his family and company are holding a fundraiser for McDonnell–but we are supposed to believe Alan isn’t involved–because if he is running an IE during this election, coordination with the campaign would be a violation of federal law.
    • An example of how this works is how Sheriff McDonnell’s 2014 campaign stated it would not take donations from casinos or LASD vendors or employees yet Skobin’s IE committee accepted them with open arms.

For comparison purposes, in the same period, Sheriff candidate Bob Lindsey raised approximately $108,000; Alex Villanueva only about $14K.

The current reporting period will end next weekend and we will of course provide the names and amounts donated during the first three months of 2018 as soon as they are available.

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