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Many California university leaders back Democrats

California’s massive public university systems are overseen by board members who tend to favor Democratic political campaigns over Republican ones, according to an analysis of recent donations.

Of the 16 appointed University of California regents, half of them reported political donations of $200 or more in 2011 and 2012, according to research by The College Fix using the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org database.

Among those eight contributors – six of them gave exclusively to President Barack Obama or other Democrats, while only one reported a donation to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, the database shows. Another regent gave to both parties.

By the numbers, seven UC regents since 2011 have donated a total of $22,300 to Democratic political causes: $6,000 to Obama, and another $16,300 to various other Democrats’ political campaigns in California and across the nation, according to the database’s most recent records.

In that same two-year period, Republican politicians did not fare so well, with far fewer regents in support – only two – and much less cash received at $12,000. The Romney camp gained $7,500 thanks to one UC regent, while another regent who gave to Democrats also gifted $4,500 to various Republicans’ political campaigns, according to the database.

A somewhat similar pattern could be found among the 16 appointed California University System trustees who reported political donations of $200 or more in 2011 and this year, the database shows.

Of that group, five made such donations:  three of whom gave exclusively to Obama and other Democrats; a fourth who gave to Republican political action groups; and a final trustee offering a nod to Republican/Libertarian Ron Paul.

Specifically, the three Democrat-supporting trustees gave a total of $1,000 to Obama and another $3,250 to various Democratic campaigns in that time span, while the Republican supporter came in at $1,900 in donations. The Paul fan on the dais gave $200 to that campaign.

Combining stats from both boards, of the 32 campus leaders, 13 – or about 40 percent – made political contributions of $200 or more since 2011, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Of those donators, roughly 70 percent supported Obama and the Democrats, about 23 percent backed Romney and Republicans, and one appointee gave to both parties.

The California State University board of trustees oversees curricular development and other broad policy and financial matters for the 23-campus system and its nearly 427,000 students. The regents of the University of California system are charged with similar oversight of their 10-campus, 220,000-student system.

The analysis only included the 32 currently appointed UC/CSU regents and trustees listed on the systems’ websites, and did not take into account vacancies, the boards’ ex officio members, or faculty, staff and student representatives.

The OpenSecrets.org database includes Federal Election Commission records of receipts from individuals who contribute at least $200. Smaller contributions are not part of the public record.

IMAGE: Caveman Chuck Coker/Flickr

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor of The College Fix. She previously worked as a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for a decade in Southern California, and prior to that held editorial positions at The Weekly Standard, Washington Times and FrontPageMagazine. She is also a Robert Novak Journalism Fellowship recipient and has contributed to National Review.

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