Meg Whitman Breaks California Campaign Spending Record

Meg Whitman, national co-chair for McCain 2008 and former president and CEO of eBay, speaks at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Former eBay president and GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has smashed California's campaign spending record and spent seven times as much as her main rivals since January 1st.

The billionaire's campaign spent nearly $27 million in the first 11 weeks of the year, according to a disclosure statement filed Monday, the Mercury News reports.

This money, coupled with the $19 million the campaign spent last year, accounts for a total of $46 million spent by Whitman's campaign thus far. $39 million of that money, about 85 percent, came from the personal fortune she has used to finance her own campaign.

Since January 1st, Whitman has spent $2 million on political consultants and nearly $20 million on a blitz of radio and television advertising, according to the Mercury News.

Critics are noting that for $27 million, Whitman could had funded 465 California teachers' salaries or helped address the economic hardship that has plagued the Golden State. "That's $868 for every one of the 31,004 notice of default filings in February by California homeowners," writes The Awl.

Whitman's main Republican primary opponent, Steve Poizner, said this in response to the disclosure, according to the Mercury News: "Never before in the history of the United States has someone so blatantly tried to buy an election. "

Poizner hasn't shied away from using his own personal wealth, however. The California insurance commissioner, a fierce Whitman competitor, may have spent a measly $3 million since the beginning of the year, but he has contributed over $19 million to his own campaign, leaving a considerable sum at his disposal.

The only major Democratic candidate has thus far spent a fraction of his political rivals. Jerry Brown, the state attorney general and former governor, contributed none of his personal wealth to his campaign and spent just $144,000 in the first part of the year. He raised $2.1 million during that time.

Whitman's spending seems to have helped make her the front-runner: A Field Poll released Friday showed Whitman leading Poizner by 49 percentage points. She also for the first time inched ahead of Brown, 46 percent to 43 percent.

If elected, Whitman would become the first female governor of California.