The most influential Orange County man you've never heard of is undoubtedly Howard F. Ahmanson, Jr., heir to the Home Savings (remember that bank?) fortune. He rarely makes public appearances due to suffering from Tourette's Syndrome, but that hasn't stopped him from giving millions of dollars away to some of the craziest causes imaginable: creationism, anti-gay marriage, anti-gay clerics in the Episcopalian Church, and so many others that in its list of America's most influential evangelicals a couple of years back, Time listed Howard and his wife Roberta as simply “The Financiers.”
It's no surprise then, that Ahmanson has so far been the top individual donor to the Protect Marriage Act, the November ballot initiative that wants to create a California constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman. Through his private philanthropic enterprise, Fieldstead and Co., Ahmanson has donated an amazing $400,000 to the initiative–even more than Focus on the Family and topped only by the National Organization for Marriage, a nationwide group whose campaign headquarters to defeat those marryin' gays are in Santa Ana. And remember: this money was spent just to get the ballot measure qualified for November–heaven knows how much money Ahmanson will donate to this cause for the rest of the year.
Going through Fieldstead's campaign contributions (he was also one of the principal funders behind Proposition 22, the 2000 measure that the California State Supreme Court recently overturned to allow homosexual nuptuals), we found Ahmanson also gives money to the county's crazy Republicans–last year, he donated to supervisors John Moorlach, Pat Bates, Janet Nguyen and Diane Harkey; Assemblymember Chuck Devore and Mimi Walters; Dana Point Mayor Diane Harkey, and DA Tony Rackauckas, while 2006 saw him donate to the campaigns of Irvine councilmember Christina Shea, Costa Mesa Minutemen councilmembers Allan Mansoor and Wendy Leece, South Orange County Community College District trustee (and former OC GOP chair) Tom Fuentes, and more to Walters and Devore. If the local Democratic Party had any brains, they'd pull a Jeremiah Wright on all these people for accepting money from such a paleo-conservative (just read up on his mentor, R.J. Rushdoony–and the Wikipedia entry doesn't do justice to the looniness of the man. Or consider that when the Orange County Register's Peter Larsen interviewed Howard and Roberta for a 2004 story, Howard said of countries that stone adulterers and homosexuals, “It would still be a little hard to say that if one stumbled on a country that was doing that, that it is inherently immoral, to stone people for these things,” and that Howard saw “homosexuality as an illness akin to alcoholism, which treatment might cure.”). But they won't do that, because to criticize politicians for taking money from Ahmanson means they'll have to go after one of their own: State Senator Lou Correa.
In 2006, Correa took the maximum amount of $3,300 from Fieldstead. Fieldstead also donated $1,000 to Correa's 2004 Supervisorial campaign. Correa's the only Orange County Democrat Ahmanson has donated to in the nine years of Fieldstead campaign contributions the Weekly reviewed*.
Lou: We know you're not too fond of equality for gays. You originally abstained from the 2003 vote that allowed domestic partnerships the same footing as heterosexual marriage. A San Francisco gay newspaper reported you “voted against an equal benefits bill and was the only Democrat in the Assembly not to vote for a 2004 resolution against a federal marriage amendment.” And who can ever forget your homo-hating capitulation to the protests of Traditional Values Coalition head Lou Sheldon, one so blatant former Weekly writer Matt Coker memorably called you “Lou Sheldon's bitch,” a name I know people still refer to you as? Matt's words from 1999 still ring true nearly a decade later:
“Correa, with Clintonesque precision, will smile, gladly snatch your contribution and then toe the line for your ideological opposites, which in this case is a clan of pious assholes who’d rather see a class of people expired than enabled.
Can't get more pious asshole than Ahmanson, Lou. So, anyone care to ask Lou if he'll give back Ahmanson's donations? Betcha a lunch he won't!
*Actually, Fieldstead donated $1,000 to the 2006 campaign of SanTana councilmember David Benavides, who's ostensibly a Democrat but is in reality a Papi Pulido hack who's also a bit of a fundie himself–his church, Newsong in Irvine, thinks homosexuality is a sin and says of it that it's “a far more complex issue than simply a sexual preference. There are issues of lack of male-affirmation, spiritual hunger, abuse, narcissism, and relational idolatry that are often not discussed.