Big money floods in for California propositions

Proposition 32 funding. Credit: Maplight Voter’s Edge

Maplight Voter’s Edge has a hugely helpful breakdown of the large amounts of money flowing in for California proposition fights. This tsunami of money is not good for democracy. In some cases, billionaires, corporations, and unions are donating millions, sometimes tens of millions. Whether one agrees with big money funding of a given proposition, the end result is the further corrupting of California politics. I’m not saying these billionaires, corporations, and unions are corrupt. They may genuinely believe in their causes. But this much money flowing into the broken and easily gamed California proposition locks out everyone else.

Close to $290 million has been raised by California ballot committees in the 2012 election cycle thus far. A spreadsheet showing campaign finance data reflecting all available electronic filings of contributions to committees formed to support or oppose California’s Nov. 2012 ballot propositions filed by October 17, 2012 can be found here.

Prop 30 and Prop 32 are the highest visibility.

Prop 30 funds education with new taxes and is favored by Gov. Brown.

Prop 32 bans unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes and is probably the most brass-knuckled fight of the propositions.. Conservative Charles Munger Jr has funded No on 30 with $21.9 million and Yes on 32 with $22.9 million.

Prop 33, which changes auto insurance rates, has received $16.4 million from George Joseph, founder and CEO of Mercury Insurance.

Prop 37 requires genetically modified food to be labeled. Monsanto leads the No on 37 contributions with $7.1 million.

Proposition 38  is another education funding measure, and has been self-funded by liberal Molly Munger (sister to Charles) with $33 million.

Prop 39 would require multi-state businesses to be taxed in California the same way in-state only businesses are. Revenue for five years would go to clean tech / renewable energy. Hedge fund honcho and progressive Thomas Steyer has ponied up $21.9 million for Yes on 39.

Look, California propositions can basically be bought. If you have enough money, your proposition will be on the ballot and may well pass. This is nearly the opposite of what California propositions were meant to be, which was direct participation in democracy by regular citizens.