by Kelly Vance
This week, "Living Large": Hey, big spender. For a politician whose office is so safe that he regularly beats opponents by more than fifty percentage points in primary elections, state Senate president pro tem Don Perata sure has lots of "campaign expenses": swanky hotels, big restaurant bills, luxury boxes at Raiders football games, golf tournaments for fat-cat contributors, cigars, and plenty of red wine. No doubt about it, the dapper Don is a great customer for a lot of Bay Area businesses, and he claims that using campaign funds like his personal party account is perfectly legal. But staff writer Bob Gammon has his doubts, and he's been digging into thousands of pages of Perata's campaign expense reports. Now, in the first of a two-part investigative report, Gammon is asking hard questions about one of the most powerful elected officials in the state.