Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Gobs Of Money Being Spent To Influence LAUSD Races

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

The 2017 L.A. Unified School Board election was the most expensive ever — but if the current pace of spending continues, 2020’s school board races could set records of their own.

Outside political groups have spent more than $2.8 million on LAUSD races so far. At the same point in the record-breaking 2017 campaign, “independent expenditures” only totaled $2.4 million, according to a KPCC/LAist analysis:

This chart shows a running total of “independent expenditures” in LAUSD elections in 2015, 2017, and 2020. The thicker, darker blue line represents this year's totals so far. The two other lines are for context — 2017 (the orange line) was a record-setting year and 2015 (the thinner light blue line) was the last time these same four seats were up for election. (Analysis by Kyle Stokes/LAist)

Here’s what these numbers reflect: whenever an outside political group spends money trying to sway an election — on mailers, advertising, or paid outreach like phone banking — they must report it as an “independent expenditure.”

Support for LAist comes from

These numbers do not reflect how much money candidates themselves are spending — but these independent expenditures often end up dominating LAUSD races because of strict fundraising limits candidates face.

Eleven candidates are running for four open seats on the LAUSD board. We’ll be writing more about the race later this week.