Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Monday, October 20, 2008


Page 1


Judicial Candidates Dig Deep for Runoff Campaign Cash




Several candidates for the Los Angeles Superior Court, including both contenders for the seat from which Judge Francis Gately is retiring next month, have borrowed more than $100,000 from themselves or their families to finance their races, records show.

Reports filed with the county registrar show that Deputy District Attorney Hilleri G. Merritt raised more than $23,000 and spent more than $43,000 between July 1 through Sept. 30. Merritt has now raised and spent more than $260,000 for the entire period of the campaign, with $212,500 coming in loans from the candidate and her family.

Her opponent for the Gately seat, Tarzana lawyer Steven Simons, raised nearly $70,000 and spent more than $96,000 during the last reporting period. The campaign has now received nearly $200,000 in loans, mostly from the candidate.

Merritt is not the high spender of the 10 candidates seeking five seats on Nov. 4, however. That distinction goes to Superior Court Referee Cynthia Loo, who is facing Deputy District Attorney Thomas Rubinson for the seat from which Judge Wendell Mortimer Jr. retired earlier this year.

Loo raised more than $133,000 and spent more than $180,000 during the last period, bringing her total fundraising to about $290,000 and her spending to nearly that figure.

Her father, attorney Thomas Loo, loaned $25,000 to the campaign last period, after having loaned nearly $50,000 previously. In addition, Loo’s firm, Greenberg Traurig, which had previously donated $1,000 to the campaign, kicked in another $2,000, and the candidate’s sister, attorney Lori Loo, donated $1,500.

Thecandidate’s mother loaned the campaign $55,000, in addition to the $5,000 she had loaned previously, and Brian Cawley, a senior technology analyst with The Capital Group loaned $10,000, on top of more than $15,000 in prior loans.

Loo also received a number of contributions from fellow Los Angeles Superior Court  judicial officers.

Judges who donated to the campaign last period included Patricia Nieto, $500; Rose Hom, $450; Diana Wheatley, $250; Christina Hill, $200; and Judith Chirlin, Margaret Henry, Rita Miller, Sandra Thompson, and Fumiko Wasserman $100 each.

In addition, Judge James Bianco, who won his seat in the June primary and had a good deal of money left over from his record war chest of more than $360,000, donated $1,000 of those funds to Loo, who also received contributions of $100 each from San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and State Bar President Holly Fujie, who had previously donated $600.

Rubinson reported raising nearly $95,000 and spending more than $53,000 last period, bringing his totals to more than $178,000 and $135,000, respectively. The campaign reported owing more than $42,000, mostly to the candidate and his family, whose contributions and loans to date total $85,000.

In other races:

•Commissioner Lori Jones reported raising more than $23,000 and spending more than $54,000 last period, bringing her totals to more than $62,000 and $94,000, respectively. She reported candidate transfers of $1,000 from Bianco, $250 from Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, and $250 from state Sen. Sheila Kuehl.

Her opponent, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Connolly, has raised more than $150,000 and spent more than $100,000 on the campaign, most of it in the last period. The candidate and his family have made contributions and loans to the campaign totaling nearly $130,000.

Jones and Connolly are seeking the seat of Judge Gibson W. Lee, who did not run for re-election.

•Deputy District Attorney Michael Jesic, seeking the seat from which Judge Jack Hunt recently retired, reported raising more than $91,000 and spending more than $110,000 last period, so he has raised and spent nearly $150,000 for the entire campaign.

The candidate’s loans to the campaigns total $120,000. His largest donor last period was the Santa Monica law firm of Milstein, Adelman & Kreger, which gave $5,000; the firm had given $5,000 previously.

His opponent, Superior Court  Commissioner Rocky Crabb, reported raising more than $53,000 and spending less than $2,000 last period. Overall, he has raised about $78,000 and spent more than $14,000.

His donors last period included a number of fellow East District judicial officers, including Commissioner H. Don Christian, retired Judge Sam Cianchetti, and Judge Bruce Marrs, who gave $1,000 each; and Judge Robert Dukes, Judge Tom Falls, and retired Judge Robert Young, who gave $500 each.

Hunt, who had previously given $500, gave another $100.

•Deputy District Attorney Michael O’Gara, bidding to succeed retired Judge Michael Duggan, reported raising and spending more than $50,000 last period, bringing his total raised to around $117,000, all but $7,000 of which has been spent. The candidate and his family have loaned the campaign nearly $97,000.

His opponent, Deputy Public Defender C. Edward Mack, has raised and spent less than $20,000 total on his campaign. His donors last period included Superior Court Judge Bobbi Tillmon, who gave $200, Judges Patricia Titus and Barbara Johnson, who gave $125 each, and Judges Shari Silver, Irma Brown, Michael Carter, Marguerite Downing, John Meigs, John Sandoz, Allen Webster and Eudon Ferrell and retired Judge Charles Peven, who gave $100 each.


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