CONGRESS 15 | Rep. Eric Swalwell’s campaign coffers saw a huge bump in donations in the first financial quarter of his career in Congress topping off at a whopping $262,000 with $171,839 from individual contributors and the other $90,954 from Political Action Committees (PACs), according to campaign finance reports.
However, Swalwell’s greatly increased PAC contributions marks a turning point from the freshmen’s campaign rhetoric during his battle with former Rep. Pete Stark for Congress last year. Swalwell heavily criticized Stark’s campaign being heavily financed by PACs while he praised his own contributions coming from mainly individual contributors. While Swalwell still maintains 65 percent of his donations from individual contributors the other 34 percent comes from PACs.
Some of the largest contributing PACS include the American Association for Justice that donated $7,500 and the Building Relationships in Diverse Geographic Environments PAC that gave $5,000, who both largely support Democratic candidates. Also, multiple union PACs donated large funds including the International Operating Engineers PAC and the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association PAC that both donated $5,000. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) PAC also gave $1,000. Two of those unions, the UFCW and Operating Engineers were once large contributors to Stark. Also Large liberal leaning PAC, National Education Association donated $2,000.
Last year, Swalwell’s PAC contributions topped off at 16 percent, less than half of what he collected this first quarter. But in Swalwell’s hardscrabble effort to beat Stark last year he accepted PAC donations that included some conservative donors to help boost his chances at defeating the liberal-standard bearer. Swalwell accepted funds from conservative PACs including Because I Care PAC ($500), Publix Supermarkets PAC ($5,000) and one of America’s largest medical institution’s PAC, Wellpoint ($5,000) last year. Swalwell also took large sums of money from Democratic PACs like the Carpenters and Joiners Union ($5,000) and Democrats Win Seats ($2,500). Although Stark was no stranger to accepting special interest money from the medical industry as well.
Some of those conservative leaning PACs are absent this financial quarter while more liberal PAC donors have donated to Swalwell, largely because of his Democratic incumbency and new found support among the Democratic establishment. Although, the conservative leaning pharmaceutical corporation, Allergan, donated $1,000 to Swalwell and were large donors to Swalwell’s campaign last year as well. Also Venture Capital’s PAC ($1,000), Chevron's PAC ($1,000), and National Association of Health Underwriters ($2,000) all of which largely give money to Republicans.
One of Swalwell’s early allies, who appointed him as assistant whip, Steny Hoyer, came to Swalwell’s aid this quarter as well. Hoyer’s PAC, AmeriPAC, gave $5,000 to Swalwell’s campaign. Hoyer’s placement on the political spectrum is further removed from the more liberal representatives in the Bay Area. Although he doesn’t belong to the Blue Dog caucus he is sometimes referred to as one because of his somewhat right leaning positions such as support for cutting Social Security.
Swalwell’s individual contributions include some old faces from last year’s campaign. One controversial figure includes a $2,500 donation from consultant Gordan Galvan who was involved with other large donations to Swalwell with employees at Amador Valley Industries (AVI), a Tri Valley garbage company, which Galvan represents and prior to Swalwell’s vote giving the company a no-bid contract in Dublin while serving on the Dublin City Council. Swalwell’s acceptance of $15,000 in donations from AVI representatives and his vote in favor of the company and its consultants raised concerns of pay-to-play.
Other large contributors include common political donor, real-estate broker Thomas Silva ($2,500), Senior VP of Calpine Corporation, Joseph Ronan ($2,600) and Cal State East Bay Prof. Jian Shen Guo, (two donations totaling at $4,000). Like last year Swalwell racked up a significant number of donations from lawyers and this year is no different. Steven Meyer of the popular law firm that supplies lawyers to multiple city council’s in the East Bay, Meyers Nave, gave $500.
Swalwell also received huge contributions from developers that Stark commonly criticized him for. The Tri Valley is known for developers throwing money around to leverage influence in the political arena for their projects. Swalwell’s campaign against Stark was largely funded by them in a attempt to compete with Stark’s campaign war chest. Although the bulk of the developer money didn’t return this financial quarter some donors of real-estate special interest tossed Swalwell money. Besides Silva, the largest investment came from Mackenzie Capital Investment, a real-estate investment firm, that bundled large donations among upper management totaling in at $7,700.
Swalwell’s impressive catch this financial quarter is far greater than other congressional incumbents in the Bay Area. Furthermore, compared to State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, his likely challenger in 2014, he is far ahead in finances. Corbett only took in $16,201 this quarter and has a total cash on hand of $114,963 which is still significantly less than Swalwell’s total of $222,993. Former mayor of Pleasanton, Jennifer Hosterman, who is also expected to compete in 2014, reported just $2,750 in campaign fundraising.