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Meg Whitman's Swan Song

Hours before she lost, Whitman wrote herself one last check, pushing her self-donations to more than $144 million -- more than any other politician has ever spent on a campaign.
 
 
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As her campaign for governor collapsed around her, retired eBay CEO Meg Whitman kept up a cheery, optimistic front.

Perhaps she really was optimistic.

On Election Day, hours before California voters rebuffed the Republican challenger in favor of Democrat Jerry Brown, Whitman wrote her campaign another check, this one for $2.6 million, according to a filing with the California Secretary of State.

That pushed Whitman’s self-donations to more than $144 million. No American politician has spent that much personal money on a campaign, win or lose.

In the end Whitman only attracted 41 percent of votes cast, or about 3.9 million votes. That amounts to $36 of Whitman's own money for every vote she attracted.

Another high-profile election-day loser – Proposition 19, the measure to legalize marijuana – got 447,000 more votes than the billionaire political novice.

On Election Day, Whitman also got a $15,860 donation from John Middleton of Bryn Mawr, Pa., CEO of the McIntosh Inns hotel chain and part owner of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, beaten by the San Francisco Giants in an exciting October playoff. That same day Whitman received $2,000 from Marilyn Nelson, CEO of the Minnesota-based Carlson Companies hotel chain. One final donation came in two days after the election: $5,000 from the EMD Serano pharmaceutical firm of Rickland, Ma.

Today there was one last bit of unfinished business for the Whitman campaign: She agreed to pay $5,500 to Nicky Diaz Santillan, the former housekeeper from Mexico whose news conferences in the office of Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred ruined Whitman’s chances with Latino voters.

Santillan said that after working nine years in the family home in Atherton, she was fired so Whitman could clear the decks for a GOP primary in which illegal immigration would be an issue. Whitman treated her “like garbage,” Santillan complained, and said the billionaire CEO shorted her wages.

Lance Williams is an investigative reporter focusing on money and politics for California Watch.

 
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