The following story by Steve Maviglio ran in California Majority Report the other day. It is republished with the author’s permission.
When you think AAA, you think emergency road service and maps for the family vacation (although Garmin and Google Maps have pretty much put an end to that). But in reality, AAA is is an insurance company. Last week, it unveiled legislation, SB 994, billed as the “AAA Insurance Data Grab Bill” by its opponents, that would allow insurance companies to access data from automobiles.
As it turns out, however, AAA is more than just another insurance company with a special interest bill in the Capitol. It is one of the leading financial backers of Republican causes in the state, now focused on denying legislative Democrats supermajority status.
An analysis of donations reported to the California Secretary of State by Thomas McKernan, Chairman of the Board of the Automobile Club of Southern California, finds that he has steered upwards of $2.5 million toward Republican candidates and causes in California during the past decade. He was he was a key funder of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his ballot measures, former chairman of the California Business Roundtable, now serves on the board of the California Chamber of Commerce, and donated heavily to Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign. He also is co-chair of California Forward http://www.cafwd.org/pages/thomas-mckernan (although California Forward, which bills itself as non-partisan, has stripped all of his Republican political activities from his bio).
Among his other major donations in the last cycle:
* $25,000 to the No on 30 Committee (the Governor’s tax measure) campaign;
* $25,000 to the Small Business Action Committee (the anti-labor group which supported Prop 32);
* $100,000 to the Yes on 31 campaign (opposed by the California Democratic Party, labor and environmental groups); and
* $35,000 to the California Republican Party (plus another $107,000 in previous cycles).
His current focus? Electing Republicans to the State Senate and Assembly.
McKernan is a major funder and controlling director of the New Majority California PAC, whose website notes is focused on “getting Republicans out of the super-minority in the legislature” and “in late 2013 New Majority endorsed Supervisor Janet Nguyen for State Senate and Young Kim for State Assembly. Both of these are Orange County seats and crucial to Republicans getting out of the super-minority.”
McKernan also contributed $25,000 to the New Majority California PAC last year, which in turn gave a $8,200 to GOP State Senator Andy Vidak, who won a hotly contested special election race last year.
The loss of the Vidak seat, along with the leaves of absence of two other state senators, has left Democrats one seat short of a supermajority in the State Senate.