With the abrupt retirement of House Democrat Susan Davis, followed shortly afterwards by the declaration of Sara Jacobs as a candidate in California's 53rd district, eyes are turning to her billionaire grandfather for clues to his latest behind-the-scenes political power play.
A longtime mega-spending Democrat, whose support of Bill Clinton is credited with gaining presidential support for Qualcomm's China business forays, company co-founder Jacobs and his wife Joan have made a total of $9.9 million in federal campaign contributions since 1982, records show.
It was Irwin Jacobs who put up the cash to kick-off granddaughter Sara's first bid for Congress in the 49th district during primary season 2018, launching a cascade of television spots, ostensibly sponsored by an outfit known as Women Vote!
The Washington, D.C.-based political committee that "supports left-wing and Democratic Party candidates for public office," according to InfluenceWatch.org,fronted the splashy videos, featuring Barack Obama, himself a beneficiary of Jacobs family largesse.
Between February 7 and June 1, 2018, Irwin Jacobs came up with a total of $2.5 million for Women Vote! according to disclosure records maintained by the Federal Election Commission.
The elder Jacobs had provided $25,000 on December 1, 2017, to a political action committee called Flip the 49th formed to oust incumbent Darrell Issa before the Republican left the race. Irwin Jacobs and his wife Joan subsequently gave $10,800 to the Sara Jacobs for Congress Committee.
Besides his Women Vote! support for Sara, Irwin's biggest donations have included a total of $400,000 from 2012 through 2018 to American Bridge PAC, which styles itself as "the largest research, video tracking, and rapid response organization in Democratic politics. We find what Republicans are hiding and make sure voters hear about it.”
In addition, on June 11, 2012, Jacobs donated $2 million to Priorities USA Action PAC, formed the year before by two former Barack Obama aides to raise cash from individual fat-cats, as well as labor unions and corporations.
In 2018, Jacobs and his wife each gave $500,000 to the Democratic Party's Senate Majority PAC. $418,450 has gone to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Closer to home, Jacobs and spouse have kicked in a total of $20,300 to the Susan Davis for Congress Committee. Well-placed local observers link the elder Jacobs’s money to the convenient timing of Davis's decision to vacate her House seat, following years of speculation about whether and when she might finally depart Congress.
The Jacobs partisan wall of money may already have served to keep ambitious would-be Democratic House aspirants out of the Davis replacement race, including state Senate Democrat Toni Atkins and Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez.