Although 13 Santa Monica City Council hopefuls and eight prospective Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education members have submitted paperwork to run in the November election, only five council and two school board candidates had launched their fundraising campaigns by the most recent campaign finance report deadline last month.

Those candidates were city council incumbent Lana Negrete, first-time candidates Ellis Raskin, Caroline Torosis, Troy Harris and Jesse Zwick, and school board incumbents Laurie Lieberman and Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.

The current data encompasses the period from Jan. 1, 2022, through July 15, 2022.

Who has raised the most money?

Of the seven candidates who have submitted the first wave of campaign finance information, a clear fundraising frontrunner has emerged: Caroline Torosis. 

From Jan. 1-July 15, TOROSIS FOR CITY COUNCIL 2022 raked in $36,090 from 162 donations. The campaign has been supported by 132 unique individual donors, plus two political campaigns.

The second-highest campaign earner so far has been incumbent school board member Laurie Lieberman, whose campaign Re-Elect Laurie Lieberman for Schoolboard 2022 has earned $24,400 from 78 individuals, plus two campaigns. 

The standing tallies for total fundraising are:

Caroline Torosis – City council – $36,090

Laurie Lieberman – School board – $24,400

Jesse Zwick – City council – $19,793.25

Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein – School board – $13,651

Lana Negrete – City council – $6,920

Troy Harris – City council – $6,857.15*

Ellis Raskin – City council – $4,120

*In Troy Harris’ campaign reporting personal loans are listed as donations.

Who is getting the largest average donations?

While individual donations to city council candidates are capped at $410 per donor per candidate by the municipal code, those rules do not apply to what an individual can pledge to a school board campaign, so it goes to show that the campaigns with the highest average donation per donor are Lieberman’s and Tahvildaran-Jesswein’s. 

Tahvildaran-Jesswein has received donations from 42 donors and one campaign, with an average donation amount of $317.47 — the highest per-donor average among the seven candidates who have reported data through mid-July. Four of his donors gave $1,000, including state Senator Ben Allen.

Lieberman received eight donations of $1,000 each, earning an average donation amount of $305 per individual donor, including two donations totaling $2,000 from Allen, plus another $2,000 from Bloom for Supervisor 2022, the now-defunct campaign Assemblymember Richard Bloom ran to take over as LA County Third District Supervisor. 

The standing tallies for average donation total, largest to smallest, are:

Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein – School board – $317.47

Laurie Lieberman – School board – $305

Caroline Torosis – City council – $269.33

Jesse Zwick – City council – $263.91

Ellis Raskin – City council – $257.50

Lana Negrete – City council – $256.30

Who is donating to political campaigns?

By far, the most common occupation listed among campaign donors was “retired,” with about 19% of donors listed as retirees — 64 total. Business-related occupations including small business owners, CEOs, vice presidents and accountants made up the next-most-common subset of occupations donating to campaigns in Santa Monica, with 38 business-related jobs listed among donors. The next most common occupation was law professionals, with 36 lawyers/attorneys donating from that category. Educators and education advocates made up 30 of the donors who gave to campaigns in the first part of the year, followed by health and wellness professionals, who numbered 24 among the roughly 342 total unique donors. In total, 78 donors listed themselves as public employees across various agencies, departments and levels of government.

Where are donors located?

Among the approximately 340 unique donors — counting each individual once, even if they gave money to multiple campaigns or multiple times to a single candidate, and not counting political campaigns — about 42% came from inside Santa Monica and the other 58% of donors reported they lived outside city limits.

Among all candidates, Lieberman earned the greatest share of in-town donors, with 65 of her 78 total unique donors residing inside the City of Santa Monica, meaning more than 83% of those who donated to her campaign are local residents.

Lieberman, who as a school board member represents Malibu, Santa Monica and parts of Topanga, did not receive any Malibu or Topanga donations. 

Fellow incumbent board member Tahvildaran-Jesswein received donations from 42 unique donors, of whom 32 were Santa Monicans; however, one Malibu and one Topanga resident each donated, meaning about 81% of his donors are from the territory he represents.

The campaign with the lowest share of local voters was that of Ellis Raskin. Of the 16 total donors Ellis Raskin for Santa Monica City Council 2022 recorded up to July 15, just two were Santa Monica residents, or 12.5% of all donors.

The standing tallies for percentage of local donors, largest to smallest, are:

Laurie Lieberman – School board – 83% Santa Monicans

Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein – School board – 81% Santa Monica/Malibu residents

Lana Negrete – City council – 54% Santa Monicans

Caroline Torosis – City council – 29% Santa Monicans

Jesse Zwick – City council – 22.6% Santa Monicans 

Ellis Raskin – City council – 12.5% Santa Monicans

*Troy Harris’ campaign reporting shows a discrepancy that renders this number unreliable

What politicians are funding each other?

Current elected officials, appointed leaders, candidates and other notable individuals have opted to throw more than just political support behind local campaigns, with thousands of dollars changing hands in the lead-up to the November election.

Here are some names you may know who have opted to financially support the campaigns of their chosen candidates:

School Board Member Maria Leon-Vazquez donated to Torosis for city council

School Board Member Jon Kean donated to Tahvildaran-Jesswein and Lieberman, each for school board

School Board Member Laurie Lieberman donated to Negrete and Torosis, both for city council

School board Member Keith Coleman donated to Torosis for city council

City Councilmember Gleam Davis donated to several candidates: Tahvildaran-Jesswein and Lieberman for school board and Torosis and Zwick for city council

City Councilmember Kristin McCowan donated to Torosis for city council

State Senator Ben Allen donated to Tahvildaran-Jesswein and Lieberman for school board

Assemblymember Richard Bloom donated to Tahvildaran-Jesswein for school board; Bloom’s campaign fund donated to Lieberman’s

Former Mayor Ted Winterer’s 2020 campaign used some of its residual funds to donate to Tahvildaran-Jesswein, Lieberman and Torosis

Former Mayor Tony Vazquez’s campaign for State Board of Equalization also gave money to Torosis’ campaign

The City of Santa Monica provides a trove of campaign finance data on its website, updated periodically as more financial reporting deadlines arrive. That full data set can be found at