While New Yorker Howard Rich has emerged as the chief financier of anti-takings ballot initiatives in the West, the California effort also has received substantial support from Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson, Jr., a wealthy Christian fundamentalist who lives in Orange County.
According to records filed with the California Secretary of State, Ahmanson’s Fieldstead & Company gave $200,000 on April 6 to the Protect Our Homes Coalition, the committee pushing the passage of Proposition 90, which would restrict the use of eminent domain and require state and local governments to compensate owners of property devalued by regulation.
Ahmanson, 56, is the son of the late Howard Ahmanson, Sr., the founder of Home Savings of America, which was the nation’s largest thrift before its acquisition in 1998 by Washington Mutual.
In e-mailed responses to questions posed by the Center for Public Integrity, Ahmanson explained why he supports Proposition 90.
“I was there when they tried to run the [Orange County] Rescue Mission out of Santa Ana in the late 1970s,” he wrote. “Ever since then, I have had a passion for churches ministering to the poor (the poor can be defined as ‘blight’ inherently and therefore removed) and for the property rights of people without access to the levers of power.”
Ahmanson went on to say: “Oregon, of all places, instituted a regulatory compensation law [in 2004] and the world didn’t come to an end there. I’m not happy that regulatory compensation is bundled into the same proposition [in California] as eminent-domain reform, but I still don’t think it would be a bad thing.”
Asked by the Center if he’s ever had any contact with Howard Rich, Ahmanson replied, “I have never met him or spoken to him.”
Ahmanson, whose personal fortune reportedly exceeds $500 million, has supported a number of far-right organizations over the years. Among them: