Firms lead way in ballot spending

first_img“It may seem like a lot of money,” Schecter said, “but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what would be lost in revenue or what’s needed for courtroom battles later.” Al Lundeen, spokesman for the No on Prop. 87 campaign, a coalition led by energy companies, said it’s unfair to characterize the contributions as an effort to buy voters. steven.harmon@mercurynews.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SACRAMENTO – Corporations have dominated this fall’s ballot initiative campaign, already spending more than $157 million in a massive TV and radio advertising assault, a consumer advocacy group said Thursday. The corporate contributions, led by oil and tobacco companies, represent 61 percent of all money – $255 million and counting – being spent on ballot measures, according to the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. Most of the corporate money has been funneled into efforts to defeat Propositions 86 and 87, measures that would raise taxes on tobacco and oil companies. Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds, Chevron and Aera Energy (ExxonMobil and Shell) are the top four corporate donors and have contributed $108 million. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe joys and headaches of holiday travel: John Phillips“The millions spent by oil and tobacco companies are designed to drown out the voices of the other side,” said Carmen Balber, spokeswoman for the foundation. By comparison, corporations also have outspent unions – another group not shy about putting money into campaigns – by a 12-to-1 margin in this election. The top union donors so far are the California Teachers Association at $7.1 million and the California Nurses Association at $3.7 million. The top 10 individual donors have put up $55 million – largely on the strength of film producer Steven Bing’s record individual sum of $40 million. Bing is bankrolling support for Proposition 87 to raise taxes on oil companies. The contributions are simply smart business, said David Schecter, a political science professor at Fresno State University. last_img