Charles Thomas Munger, Jr., son of a wealthy sideman to Omaha, Nebraska, billionaire Warren Buffett, has become the latest super-rich American to wade into the battle for San Diego mayor, cutting a $1000 check for Republican city councilman Kevin Faulconer yesterday, December 18, according to a disclosure filing posted online by the California secretary of state's office.
Last year, Munger, Jr., who is based in Palo Alto, spent $10 million in unsuccessful efforts to pass Proposition 32, which would have barred union dues from being used in politics, and to defeat Proposition 30, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-raising measure.
His half sister Molly is a big political spender as well. Last year she put up more than $44 million for Proposition 38, a pubic school funding counter-measure to Brown's Proposition 30. The Munger proposition lost.
In 2010, Munger, took on billionaire George Soros and his allies among state Democrats and unions in a battle over redistricting legislative seats, as reported that October by Bloomberg News.
Munger has mailed 660,000 DVDs of “Gerrymandering,” a 77- minute documentary, to regular voters in California in support of Proposition 20, which would give the state panel, created by a 2008 ballot measure, added power over congressional district lines.
With his wife, Charlotte Lowell, 53, they account for most of the $10.5 million raised to support the initiative, the California secretary of state’s website shows.
Soros has been an ally of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, the La Jolla billionaire who sponsored the failed mayoral candidacy of ex-GOP assemblyman-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher in November's primary.
The surprise appearance of the big-spending Munger on San Diego's political scene may signal the possibility that multimillion-dollar contributions from union foes will be spent here in the days leading up to the February run-off between Faulconer and Democratic city councilman David Alvarez, whose campaign has been backed by seven-figure union expenditures.
But Munger and his big money are not beloved by all in the GOP. As reported this past October by SFGate.com, conservative detractors have set up a blog called The Munger Games that blasts the heir as "the one-man maelstrom of money intent on remaking California Republicanism in his bow-tied image.”
“How much damage can one man do to a political party? In the case of Charles Munger, Jr. and the California Republican Party,” wrote an anonymous Munger Games poster, “the answer is: a lot.”
Munger’s money powered another successful ballot measure in 2010 that gave California a top-two primary. Conservative Republicans loathed both it and Prop. 20, saying they sapped the party of its strength.
As it is now, only 29 percent of California’s registered voters are Republican, the GOP holds no statewide offices, and is in the minority in both legislative chambers.
But Munger has been dishing out cash — at least $1.5 million through June 30 this year — to county party operations as part of the California GOP plan to rebuild itself from the ground up.
The battle has led to a federal lawsuit brought by Munger ally and state GOP vice chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco, who is attempting to unmask the anonymous bloggers.
Jon Fleischman, proprietor of the conservative website Flashreport.org, said he's had "a lot of conversations with Republicans who are glad that somebody is providing some criticism of Munger."