$473.5 million spent on 17 state ballot measures

By David Eugene Archer Sr.

The 17 propositions on the California November ballot set a new state record for donations at $473.5 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Prop. 61, 56 and 52 accounted for more than half of the total contributions, according to the California Secretary of State records.

That $473.5 million was roughly twice what Republican candidate Donald Trump reported raising for his presidential campaign, a review in the Times said.

“On average, more than $1.5 million has been raised every day this year to influence the outcome of propositions on the November ballot,” said Sophia Bollag, a reporter at the LA Times.

More than a third of the money came from tobacco and pharmaceutical companies to defeat propositions 56 and 61, she reported.

Merck, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson were the top three contributors toward the more than $109 million against Prop. 61. Bollag said that these contributions would influence prescription drug costs.

Tobacco Giant Philip Morris alone kicked in more than $44 million to defeat Prop. 56, which imposed a $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes, reported the Times.

The California Hospital Association and the California Teachers Association donated more than $20 million to support Prop. 55, which would extend current income tax rates on wealthy Californians, to finance schools and healthcare, said Bollag.

The hospital association donated another $10 million to support Prop. 56. They joined health care organizations to contribute the majority of nearly $60 million in favor of Prop. 52, which would make permanent funding for Medi-Cal for low-income residents, the Times reported.

Tom Steyer, former hedge fund manager, gave more than $11 million, with most of it going to Prop. 56, Prop. 55, Prop. 62, the death penalty repeal measure, Prison parole initiative Prop. 57, and bilingual education Prop. 58, Bollag said.

Former Facebook president Sean Parker gave more than $8 million to Prop. 64, which legalizes marijuana, said Bollag.

Gov. Jerry Brown supported Prop. 57 and was opposed to Prop. 53. Prop. 57 would make more prisoners eligible for parole. Prop. 53 requires voter approval for the sale of revenue bonds of $2 billion or more. Brown gave more than $4 million from his 2014 gubernatorial campaign account and appeared in a television ad to defeat 53, said Bollag.

Campaign finance filings show $16 million was raised in support of Prop. 62 to repeal the death penalty. The committee giving that money opposed Prop. 66, which expedites executions of death row inmates, according to the Times.

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