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While voicing regret over what’s called a “lousy” fund-raising system, California Democrats will nonetheless embrace deep-pocketed donors at this weekend’s Pro Tem Cup, a weekend of golf featuring Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg at San Diego’s Torrey Pines Golf Course.

Party contributors looking for access to Steinberg will fork over up to $60,000, an increase of $10,000 from similar events in 2011 and 2008, the Sacramento Bee reports. That amount will buy a “Two Day Platinum” package, including two days’ worth of golf for four people, two nights’ lodging, attendance at an awards barbecue with “commemorative gifts,” and an evening with Steinberg.

The (slightly) less well-heeled can buy a “Two Day Gold” package for only $45,000, with the same treatments described above but for two people instead of four. That price is up $5,000 over last year. Cheaper packages, such as a $10,000 one day/one night package for one, are priced comparably to previous years.

The event already has attracted title sponsors from the cable television industry, including the California Cable and Telecommunications Association, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable.

The Democrats are justifying the grab for cash as necessary in a quest to win a two-thirds “super majority” in the legislature’s upper chamber, especially given that redistricting has opened up competition for some seats.

Steinberg himself has expressed reservations about fundraising on such a massive scale. “I don't like this whole system, but I'm highly motivated and my caucus is highly motivated to get a two-thirds super majority,” he told the Bee. “In order to do that, it takes raising money.”

He adds, however, that he’s prepared to “look at supporters and say on this issue I disagree with you.”

Still, says Phillip Ung of California Common Cause, the access provided to politicians through events like these allow representatives of powerful special interests to form “cozy relationship that should make some voters cringe.”

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