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Follow the money in Palm Springs Congressional race

Emergency room physician Raul Ruiz is running against Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district.
Emergency room physician Raul Ruiz is running against Republican incumbent Mary Bono-Mack in a Coachella Valley district.
KPCC and Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

The Federal Elections Commission just released the latest report on campaign contributions.  It's mind numbing stuff.  But the numbers provide a snapshot of just which industries and individuals are willing to put up big dollars for candidates.

The 36th Congressional district in the Coachella Valley is currently held by eight-term Republican Mary Bono Mack. She's being challenged by a political novice, Democrat Raul Ruiz. Big money is being spent on this race.  So far, more than $3 million has been raised by the two candidates. In this past quarter, Ruiz took in $156,000 more than Bono Mack. 

Because Ruiz is an emergency room doctor, it's not surprising that most of the individual contributors to his campaign are medical professionals — surgeons, dentists, psychiatrists, even a veternarian. He's also gotten money from attorneys, Harvard professors (he's a Harvard grad), and real estate developers. Hollywood is represented: actress Valerie Bertinelli kicked in $2,500. A senior VP at Warner Brothers kicked in another thousand.

While Ruiz got most of his contributions from individuals, he did raise nearly $100,000 this quarter from political action committees. Many are Democratic PACs, including one that gets the best name award: PAC to the Future. Numerous union PACs also wrote checks for up to $10,000. My personal favorite is the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which gave a thousand dollars.

Two Ruiz contributors will likely become campaign fodder: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi kicked in another $2,000 this quarter, bringing her total contributions to the Ruiz campaign to $4,000. PAC to the Future is also her fundraising arm; her husband is the PAC's treasurer. Ruiz also received money from the political action committee for Planned Parenthood. It gave $5,000 this quarter, bringing its contributions up to $6,000. 

Many of the individuals who gave money to Mary Bono Mack's campaign list their occupation as "retired" — not a surprise in the Coachella Valley, which boasts of more than 120 golf courses and practically pioneered the concept of retirement communities.

One individual name stood out that could spark Democratic poltical outcry: Charles Munger Jr., the GOP activist who wrote a check for $22 million to promote Proposition 32 and oppose Gov. Brown's Prop 30. Munger gave a lot less to Bono Mack: $2,000 this quarter, bringing his total contribution to $4,500.

Unlike Ruiz, Bono Mack got most of her money this past quarter from political action committees. And while Ruiz received lots of support from individual physicians, Bono Mack got support from medical PACs. She's been a vocal advocate on Capitol Hill, warning about prescription drug abuse.

The travel industry also sent her PAC money — representing everything from Princess Cruises to Marriott to a PAC called A Political Association of Taco Bell Franchises, known as TACO PAC. Bono Mack also received support from the energy sector, both oil and solar.

The Coachella Valley is farm country, so farming PACs — including the Raisin Bargaining Association — kicked in money. So did the high tech sector and cable. The Directors Guild sent another $5,000 this quarter, bringing its total to $10,000. And PACS of Indian tribes from all over the state showed their support for the incumbent whose district includes several gaming facilities.

There is less than three weeks until the election. Bono Mack has $110,000 more in cash on hand than Dr. Ruiz to spend on her campaign.