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11.26.08

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North Bay Donors

By Gabe Meline


For political junkies with too much time on their hands, there's no better moment than now to get immersed in political campaign donations. Transparency has come home to roost, when, for example, one can easily scroll through thousands of names online and find that one Charles Stoddard of Santa Rosa contributed a jaw-dropping $19,500 to support the passage of Proposition 8.

It's small surprise that Stoddard is a mission president for the Mormon church; he's joined by other familiar local Mormon names—Bingham, Huber, Willits, Hershey, Wheelwright—on a roll call that includes Katharine Chera ($5,000) and David Wheeler ($500). It surprisingly doesn't include Martin McOmber, who serves in the Santa Rosa stake presidency of the Mormon church and who felt the need to call upon the Santa Rosa City Council on Oct. 21 to support Prop. 8, referring to same-sex marriage as a "current trend" and claiming that "passing Prop. 8 doesn't take away existing rights."

In presidential race contributions, it's free entertainment to count the wives, like Jean Schulz, who, despite her late husband Charles Schulz's $1,000 support of John McCain in 1999, gave $1,100 this year to Hillary Clinton. Connie Codding, wife of developer Hugh Codding, gave $500 to Clinton in the primaries, eventually swaying to a $250 support of Barack Obama, while Barbara Banke, wife of Kendall-Jackson founder Jess Jackson, gave $2,300 to McCain.

Those in the arts gave solidly to Obama. Former Santa Rosa Symphony conductor Jeffrey Kahane gave $1,800: former Section M editor Michael Houghton gave $500; and Last Record Store owner Doug Jayne gave $250 to Obama. Grateful Dead member Bob Weir gave $2,620 to Obama, while fellow Marin celebrity Sean Penn lived up to his contrarian reputation by giving instead to John Edwards ($4,600) and Dennis Kucinich ($2,300).

Developers and construction firms were strangely absent from this year's contributions. While the Christophersons and Ghilottis gave $4,000 each to Bush's re-election campaign in 2004, both were conspicuously closed-fisted from financially supporting the McCain-Palin ticket. Civic leader and philanthropist Henry Trione, a $2,000 Bush supporter in 2004, also evidently couldn't bring himself to donate to McCain-Palin, and instead gave $1,250 to Rudy Giuliani.

After a few hours of scanning these lists, the names all start to blend together, and most of the locally recognizable names—Sawyer, Rabinowitsch, Bosco—are for Obama. But wait—who's this? Ah, yes, Max G. Arnold, who gave $250 to Obama. You know him, too, I'm sure: he's the injury lawyer advertised on the back of the Yellow Pages.


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