Giuliani Backer Behind Failed Scheme to Give 19 of California’s Electoral College Votes to 2008 GOP Nominee

Two big stories broke over the weekend about the Republican scheme to change California’s winner-take-all primary to a proportional system that would give nearly half the state’s 55 Electoral College votes to the GOP in next year’s presidential election.

If the initiative had passed, it could well have resulted in handing Giuliani the presidency in a close election.

First came word that the campaign to put an initiative on the June ballot had failed and was closing shop. Then we learned that campaign’s once-secret major donor was a key back of Rudolph Giuliani, the GOP frontrunner and, not incidentally, the person most likely to have benefited if the initiative had passed.

Pundits have all but ceded the California primary to Giuliani because he is the most liberal GOP candidate. But it is considered highly unlikely he or any Republican could win the state in the general election.

The stakes were actually quite huge. Under the proposed change, if the GOP candidate were to win all the California districts his party won in 2006, even though he lost the state overall, he’d still have 19 additional Electoral College votes — roughly the total votes held by Ohio.

In the story Saturday that broke the news of the initiative’s failure, note the reference to the lack of disclosure of the identity of a donor:

Unable to raise sufficient money and angered over a lack of disclosure by its one large donor, veteran political law attorney Thomas Hiltachk, who drafted the measure, said he was resigning from the committee … Campaign spokesman Kevin Eckery said he was ending his role as well … [Backers] said Thursday that they believed the measure was all but dead, at least for the 2008 election.

In the second story, we learn the donor’s name and that he has close ties to Giuliani:

A close friend and major fundraiser of… Giuliani has identified himself as the mystery financier of the proposed California initiative to apportion the state’s 55 electoral votes by congressional district instead of winner-take-all.

He is New York hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer. He said he provided the $175,000 to initially finance the petition drive to get the measure on the June 2008 ballot …

Singer oversees Elliott Associates, an $8 billion investment fund. He is also chairman of Giuliani’s northeast fundraising operation that produced a third of the New Yorker’s $33.5 million campaign war chest in the first six months of 2007. Singer and his employees have donated at least $182,000 to the Giuliani campaign so far this year.

“I made the contribution without any restrictions,” Singer’s statement said. Some Democrats have threatened legal action, complaining that federal campaign finance laws were violated if the Giuliani campaign was involved.

The Giuliani campaign denied having any role in the campaign:

A Giuliani campaign spokeswoman, Maria Comella, said today that Singer’s donation “was completely independent from our campaign.”

But this strains credulity because, if the initiative had passed, it could well have resulted in handing Giuliani the presidency in a close election next November.

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