RANCHO SANTA FE — If the election is a money race, then checkbooks are galloping faster towards the finish line.
Individuals in Rancho Santa Fe, as defined by ZIP codes 92067 and 92091, have given nearly $2.9 million in campaign contributions so far this year, up from $1.5 million in July. That’s according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs opensecrets.org, a nonpartisan and nonprofit website dedicated to tracking money in politics.
Nearly all of the donations this year have benefited Republicans. Ninety-nine percent of campaign contributions from ZIP code 92091, and 92 percent from 92067 went to Republican-backed candidates and organizations.
The Republican National Committee received $971,000, making it the top recipient of campaign contributions from individuals in Rancho Santa Fe. Next, Mitt Romney hauled in $817,000. Rounding out the top three, the National Republican Congressional Committee was given $152,000.
Locally, individuals in Rancho Santa Fe donated $107,000 to Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray, who received the most of any San Diego candidate.
By comparison, President Barack Obama brought in $116,000, and the Democratic National Committee pulled in $57,000. Democrats likely performed relatively poor in fundraising because of Rancho Santa Fe’s history as a Republican stronghold.
In 2008 presidential candidate John McCain won nearly two-thirds of the vote in the area.
Looking at the rest of San Diego, Romney is still ahead in individual contributions, but not by much. Not including Rancho Santa Fe, Mitt Romney garnered $2.9 million in individual contributions in San Diego. Respectively, Obama is at $2.7 million.
Rancho Santa Fe’s 92067, one of the richest ZIP codes in the U.S., has given 44 times more than the average zip code in campaign contributions this year, a big jump from three months ago. In July, the area represented 34 times more than the average zip code.
The campaign contributions were released to the public Oct. 21 and reflect filings with the FEC (Federal Election Commission) through Sept. 30.
Because October filings have yet to be released, it’s premature to compare this election’s campaign contributions with previous presidential election year totals. But for some perspective, campaign contributions from individuals in Rancho Santa Fe added up to $3.5 million in 2008 and $2.5 million in 2004.
Yet this year’s presidential election is unprecedented, because undisclosed contributions are now a reality throughout the U.S.
In an interview several months ago, Viveca Novak, the communications director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said it’s likely most campaign contributions are filed with the FEC. But she cautioned that some political donations might not be disclosed due to the rise of Super PACs and their affiliated nonprofits.
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010 paved the way for the creation of Super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations and unions, among other organizations. While Super PACs are forbidden from working directly with the candidates they support, they’re allowed to advocate for or against candidates by purchasing television, radio and print advertisements.
Many Super PACs have established nonprofits, or 501(c) 4s, that act in conjunction with them. Unlike Super PACs, the nonprofit arm of a Super PAC currently doesn’t have to disclose its donors to the FEC.
“Worrisome to many, Super PACs can have a 501(c) 4 that doesn’t identify donors,” Novak said in a previous interview.
She said that Super PACs have received much of the attention, but their affiliated nonprofits are potentially a greater threat to transparency and fair elections.
“501(c) 4s outspent Super PACs in 2010,” Novak said.