Spending soars on state ballot measures

October 12, 2012

The top 10 donors to California’s November ballot measures have already spent a total of more than $150 million on the various campaigns [California Watch].

Major donors include politically opposed siblings, a 91-year-old billionaire and a teachers union that has outspent every other special interest group in the last decade.

In a year in which statewide focus lies on Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to raise taxes for education funding, a competing tax initiative has actually received the highest individual donation. Civil rights attorney and daughter of a billionaire business partner of Warren Buffet, Molly Munger, has spent more than $30 million to pass Proposition 38 which, like Brown’s Proposition 30, would raised taxes to fund K-12 education.

Meanwhile Munger’s half-brother, Republican activist Charles Munger Jr. has spent $23 million to defeat Proposition 30 and support Proposition 32, which prohibits unions from spending payroll deducted funds on political campaigns.

On the other sides of propositions 30 and 32, the California Teachers Association has given nearly $8 million and more than $18 million to passing and defeating the respective measures. While this year’s ballot measures directly affect the teachers union, the heavy spending by the CTA is nothing new. From 2001 to 2011, the union gave more than $118 million to candidates and initiatives, more than any other interest group.

Other individual big spenders on the 2012 initiatives include hedge fund manager Thomas Steyer and Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph. Steyer, an investor in renewable energy, has spent $22 million to pass Proposition 39, which would alter taxation on multi-state companies to raise money for alternative energy projects. Joseph, the 91-year-old founder of Mercury, has spent more than $16 million supporting Proposition 30, which would let car insurance companies base rates on whether customers had previously been insured.

Though not nearly as funded as the tax initiative campaigns, Proposition 37, the genetically modified food labeling measure, has drawn considerable spending from a couple corporations. Monsanto and DuPont, two companies that produce genetically modified seeds, have spent $7 million and $5 million respectively opposing Proposition 37.


10 Comments

  1. The Gimlet Eye says:

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    That, my friends, is globalization.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. standup says:

    Slam me all you want for this but……Unions are good only for the members. The ones footing the payroll bills get screwed. Unions protect the lazy, good for nothing employees that can’t produce anymore. I have supervised union employees and with all due respect, 60% of the employees were good hard working individuals. The other 40%, pieces of crap, but I couldn’t fire them without an act of God. What is the worst is that union dues are paid by the taxpayers for government workers where the unions use that money to lobby other government employees/officials for favorable decisions. This is public taxpayer funded lobbying and it should be illegal. The law enforcement side of this is the worst starting with the correctional officers. They lobby and lick Gov. Brown’s brown part to get what they want. Sorry, but this is just wrong. I vote to disband them all and let employees work based on their work ethic, not their bs membership in some gay union club. Wake up union members! Are you scared to be employed based on your own drive and work ethics? Do you think some lazy lackey should get paid the same as you but works 1/2 as hard?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

    • r0y says:

      I have no problems with Unions, their funding of political issues, etc. What I object to is the unionizing of the public sector. Even FDR didn’t think that was a good idea, and look at what an elitist, spoiled progressive he was! How public unions can be justified simply boggles the mind.

      Unions were definitely needed at one point in the history of industrialization, true. But their need after the early industrial years came to an end with globalization. If you can be a private sector union shop and survive WITHOUT forced government contract work, more power to you! However, the instant the government gets involved with unions (either by unionization or requiring union shops for contracts), it just smacks of collusion. It’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately.

      Unions are NOT good for companies, why would they be good for Tax Payers (aka the public sector)?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

      • zaphod says:

        Unions are NOT good for companies thats right that is why there are ” trade associations and lobbys ”
        Unions are for people who work. capital being the daughter of labor , unions democratic by nature capital being autocratic by nature
        the conflict who serves vs who eats.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  3. r0y says:

    I have no problem with millionaires or billionaires or unions (private sector) spending money to get favorable legislation passed. Welcome to representational government.

    What we should be concerned with is: WHY DO WE, as voters, FALL PREY TO PROPAGANDISTS? I mean, I will assume that most of those millions are spend on TV/Radio Ads… how is it that we’re so damn lazy that we make a decision based on a TV or Radio commercial? Therein lies the problem.

    It’s not a spending problem, it’s an education problem. It’s a lazy, apathetic issue that too many voters have. We really should have a basic IQ test before we let people vote. Or at the very least require them to READ (out loud?) the propositions and bills they are voting for or against. Yeah, that’ll never happen. The ignorant are too easy to manipulate and control. Hence our rapid decline in education over the last 50 years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  4. SLOBIRD says:

    This is all criminal! All this money the unions are putting out there to support them along with the millionaires is wrong. It is so illogical that we allow this happen. We overpay/benefit state workers and then they take that money and stop it on this s$@t so they can get more so then they give more to the unions to come back in the next election and have us bend over somemore. What is wrong with this.

    Let’s take Prop 30: As of October 1 LaborUnions (SEIU, AFLCIO, TEACHERS, ETC.) are the biggest supporters of Prop 30 with $41 Million dollars. Prop 30 will change the California Constituation. REALLY – See proposed Section 36. The new money is really not meant to bail out the schools but for Schools and Public Stafety. Should you take the time to read the amendment to the Constitution it is for Prisons (guards/unions), attorneys, courts and support staff, mental health, child abuse, housing for offenders,local law enforcement training and new jails. This prop is not only a 1/4 cent sales tax increase but affects all taxpayers/businesses making $250,000 or more and goes up in increments as a business makes more money. Munger’s Prop is no better because it tax all taxpayers except the poor but at least her’s goes go to the schools. VOTE NO FOR ANY TAX INCREASE ANYWHERE BECAUSE WE ARE GOING TO GET IT WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WITHIN THE NEXT TWO YEARS BIG TIME!! Plus, California is bankrupt and as they shift more to the local agencies we will be paying more for police, fire, ambulance, roads, schools locally, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 5

    • R.Hodin says:

      The unions are doing exactly what the Chamber of Commerce membership has been doing since Day One. Campaign for your own interests. The unions are doing it with money they lawfully earned while working to benefit the state. The corporations are doing it with money their businesses earned while paying slave wages to their employees while cutting their benefits.

      The way I see it, if some working stiff still has benefits & a retirement package after the last 50 years of rapacious corporate political influence in this country, then I say “Congratulations, you’ve earned it and I hope you can hang onto it, because you represent the promise of free enterprise which has been denied the rest of us. Good luck!”

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

      • Russ J says:

        The difference being, that the chamber of commerce membership provides products that are of good value, while CTA political bribes provide for a union membership that is one of the highest paid in the country but producing the lowest student ranking in the nation. Besides, on many issues, the chamber of commerce sleeps with the same political muscle behind the CTA.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

        • r0y says:

          “CTA political bribes provide for a union membership” …or, as I like to view it:

          Publicly Funded group A gives to Political Party B, Political Party B pushes and enacts legislation that enriches Publicly Funded group A. That is good old fashioned money laundering if I ever saw it.

          Education has not been about education for decades. Like all public sector jobs, it’s about job security and squeezing the public for more money while providing less work and no accountability.

          That said, education is the hardest place to have accountability. Especially when money is tied to it. Too much incentive to lie, cheat and steal. Until we completely dump the system and re-create the system to something similar in the late 1800′s (very localized, there because they love kids and not money, etc) we’re never going to see this end.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

        • SLOBIRD says:

          No, the difference is a business has a choice to join or not join the Chamber of Commerce, through a collective process choices are made as to what and what not to support and if you don’t like the choices made, you stop your membership. The gooberment employments are mandated to pay the union dues to get their job (bribery) and have no say and no way out of the choices made by the unions. I would be fine with employees making a choice to as be join or not the collective bargaining unions. Amazing how some of you do not recognize CHOICE, which is part of the problem today, just lead me to the trough…

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

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