Search This Blog

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Big Money in California Ballot Measures

Supporters and opponents of the 11 propositions on the November ballot already have contributed nearly $300 million toward passing and defeating those measures, with more than two weeks still to go until election day, according to a new analysis of campaign funding.
Groups that monitor money in politics said the funding is among the highest ever in California.
The analysis was conducted for The Chronicle by MapLight, the nonpartisan Berkeley organization that tracks money in politics. It found that as of this week, $292 million had been collected by dozens of committees advocating support or opposition to the propositions.
That total undoubtedly will climb as election day approaches.
Common Cause is linking a ballot measure to Karl Rove, as The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Common Cause of California on Friday called on the state's political watchdog to order a secret out-of-state group to reveal its donors after it dropped $11 million into a ballot measure campaign.
Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership created a storm earlier this week with a contribution to the Small Business Action Committee that was the single largest undisclosed donation in California history.
The group is running campaigns in favor of Proposition 32, the initiative to curb unions' ability to collect dues for political purposes, and against Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike initiative.
"Eleven million dollars doesn't just drop out of the sky -- this doesn't pass the laugh test that suddenly this level of money appears in California from an organization with no track record here, without the knowledge of the donors who put that money into the organization," said Derek Cressman, Common Cause's regional director.
Under Internal Revenue Service rules, the Arizona group is not required to reveal its donors because of its status as a nonprofit 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. Americans for Responsible Leadership declares on its Facebook page that it "seeks to promote the general welfare by educating the public on concepts that advance government accountability, transparency, ethics, and related public policy issues."
The law firm for Americans for Responsible Leadership is run by Jill Holtzman Vogel, a Republican legislator in Virginia and chief counsel for the Republican National Committee.
It shares office space with Republican strategist Karl Rove, whose American Crossroads has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into campaigns this year. It also has done work with groups affiliated with David and Charles Koch, the conservative oil magnate brothers, who have also combined to wield influence on elections around the country with hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions.
"We think it's clear as day that this is money that knows what it's doing, that was given for a specific purpose that is part of a national agenda aimed at reducing taxes and weakening labor unions," Cressman said.
Perhaps stretching the battlefield is the point.  The Los Angeles Times reports:
Labor unions are unloading tens of millions of dollars against a ballot measure that could limit their political clout in California, but the spending could come at a cost for one of their biggest allies: Gov. Jerry Brown.
The unions are pooling their money to fight Proposition 32, which would eliminate their primary political fundraising tool — paycheck deductions — at the same time Brown is counting on their support for his tax-hike initiative also on the ballot next month.

Polls show support for his measure ebbing as election day nears. But although Brown has signed labor-backed legislation and pushed high-speed rail construction that would create union jobs, there's only so much money to go around.
"Labor dollars are being stretched," said Steve Maviglio, a Democratic political consultant who has worked with unions but is not involved in either campaign.