Robert Hurtt is owner of the Container Supply Company and now a California state senator.
According to a report by People for the American Way, "He, Ahmanson, and two other California businessmen contributed a total of $1 million directly to hard-right candidates, and have funneled much more through their contributions to seven right-wing political action committees."
- "For example, Ahmanson, Hurtt and their two colleagues were the sole contributors to the Allied Business PAC (approximately $800,000 by September of 1992); about 70 percent of this was used to fund right-wing candidates. In 1994, the PAC spent almost $2.8 million on state legislative races; of the 32 candidates receiving PAC money, 29 won primaries, and 24 went on to win seats in the Legislature, primarily in the state Assembly.
- When in 1993 Robert Hurtt ran a successful campaign for state senator, he began to distance himself publicly from the Allied Business PAC. Allied has since changed its name to the California Independent Business PAC both to reflect Hurtt's departure and its new "farm team" strategy, which consists of recruiting local businessmen with experience in school board and city council races for future congressional races.
- Robert Hurtt himself is a substantial contributor to right wing and Religious Right causes. In the 1980s, he became an avid fan of James Dobson's Focus on the Family, donating $250,000 between 1987 and 1989. He says he was inspired to become politically active while traveling with Dobson and other donors to meet with Reagan administration officials, including then-aide Lt. Col. Oliver North.
- While Hurtt bristles at suggestions that he represents the Religious Right and bills himself simply as a pro-business conservative, Religious Right leaders are not nearly so reticent. In 1992, Hurtt was one of 53 activists recommended by televangelist Pat Robertson to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention from California. The Reverend Lou Sheldon, director of the Religious Right group Traditional Values Coalition, calls Hurtt "our Daddy Warbucks," and Gary Bauer, president of the Family Research Council, speaks of "Rob" admiringly. Hurtt's support for Religious Right causes goes beyond financing, however. While in the state Senate, Hurtt has been a chief advocate for so-called parental rights legislation, an initiative being pushed in nearly 30 states and in Congress by the Religious Right. In California, the bill would weaken the ability of local child protection agencies to act in cases of suspected child abuse and allow individual parents to change the curriculum for entire schools if they object to coverage of such issues as sexuality education, condom availability programs, tolerance for homosexuality, and more. Hurtt was the sponsor of a parental rights proposal in 1995 but the bill was not pursued at that time. A similar version, drafted by the Rutherford Institute, a Religious Right law group, was also introduced in the state assembly. In addition, Hurtt, along with Ahmanson, co-founded the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI), a Religious Right lobbying group affiliated with Focus on the Family; his contribution totals $1 million. Hurtt's chief of staff and spokesman both come from CRI.
- Hurtt's chief focus as senator has been to fund Republican candidates for the 1996 and 1998 elections to achieve a right-wing Republican state Senate. 230 In that event, Hurtt is believed to harbor ambitions about becoming president pro tem. Meanwhile, his advocacy group, Capitol Resource Institute, actively lobbies against the interests of public education and gay rights, and pushes for welfare limits and parental rights. This frees Hurtt to pursue his more purely business-driven agenda: lifting governmental restrictions on business in such areas as affirmative action, environmental protection, tax law, and minimum wage requirements," they wrote.
- People for the American Way, "Buying a movement: individual donors", undated, accessed May 2004. (Used with the permission of People For the American Way (or People For the American Way Foundation).