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.