continued Besides advancing his political agenda, Spanos has reaped personal favors from Wilson. In 1994, Wilson appointed Dea Spanos Berberian, one of Spanos's daughters, to a four-year term on the California Arts Council, a non-salaried position. Her occupation was listed as public relations representative for the Chargers. Wilson, however, is not the only political interest to benefit from Spanos's generosity. In San Diego, Spanos, his son Dean, and their spouses have given approximately $10,000 over the last five years to members of the city council, which controls the destiny of the stadium. In addition, Spanos money looms large on the national scene:
- In the first six months of 1996 alone, Spanos pumped $335,000 into the coffers of the Republican National Committee to be used as "soft money" in Bob Dole's presidential race, according to the magazine Engineering News Record. The contribution, the 18th largest of the campaign, was also one of the biggest from the nation's construction industry. Unlike contributions to individual candidates, there are no limits on how much "soft money" can be given. The cash may be used for anything from party advertising to fundraising. Critics claim it encourages influence buying.
- In March 1996, the state Fair Political Practices Commission staff levied a $60,000 fine against the California Republican Party for failure to report, among other violations, that Spanos had guaranteed a $100,000 loan to the state party.
- In August 1996, Spanos spent an estimated $250,000 to host a lavish bash for the New York and California delegations to the Republican National Convention. The event, held at Horton Plaza, featured laser light shows, rock bands, gourmet food, and free coupons for the mall's Victoria's Secret lingerie store. Spanos also acted as a chief fundraiser for Mayor Susan Golding's convention host committee and directly contributed $250,000 to the effort.
- In 1994, Spanos gave $50,000 in last-minute cash to bolster the candidacy of Republican Ed Simas, a San Joaquin County supervisor who was running against Democrat Mike Machado for the vacated Stockton assembly seat of Republican Assemblyman Dean Andal. Machado won.
- In 1993, Spanos was listed by Common Cause magazine as one of the largest contributors to the "v-pac" Political Action Committee operated by E.J. Bronars on behalf of then-U.S. Senate candidate Oliver North. Bronars had been chairman of North's legal defense fund during North's battle against federal charges stemming from the Iran arms-for-hostages scandal. North was honorary chairman of the pac, which Common Cause said "existed primarily to pay expenses and dole out political favors, thus creating political debts. v-pac's raison d'etre appears to be to further the political career of its honorary chair." North narrowly lost his Virginia senate race to Democrat Charles Robb.
- In 1990, Spanos was one of 249 people listed as having provided at least $100,000 to the gop's "Team 100," operated by then--commerce secretary Robert Mosbacher, who was also chief fundraiser for George Bush's 1988 presidential campaign. As reported by the Washington Post, after Bush won the gop nomination in August 1988, Mosbacher raised more than $25 million to help Bush win the presidency.
- In 1982, Spanos gave $6000 to the unsuccessful reelection campaign of Nevada Governor Robert List. The contribution was notable because it came at the same time as another $6000 donation, this one from Frank Sinatra, who received a gambling license earlier in the year despite having been kicked out of Nevada gambling 20 years earlier for associating with underworld figures.
On Tuesday, the city council bowed to a referendum campaign and voted to rescind its so-called $18 million contract amendment with the Chargers rather than put the measure to a public vote. But the council also voted to explore holding a new election on the stadium. If that election is held, many Sacramento observers think Spanos would be called upon to spend as much as $600,000 to convince voters that the stadium expansion is in their best interests. "It would cost at least that much," says one political operative in the state capital familiar with San Diego campaigns. "At least $25,000 for TV production and another $250,000 for a two-week saturation TV [commercial] buy on local stations. Then plug in another $300,000 for direct mail, and you've about got the budget you'll need. He'll hire expert talent from out of town. No need to fool around with the amateurs down there."