A Look at the Money Behind Propositions 20 and 27

The finances of the two redistricting initiatives on California’s ballot this fall tell an interesting tale:

Proposition 20

Proposition 20 would add congressional redistricting to the duties of the Citizens Redistricting Commission established by Proposition 11 in 2008. It is supported by a group called “Yes on 20, No on 27 – Hold Politicians Accountable, A Coalition of Taxpayers, Seniors, Good Government Groups, Small Business and Community Organizations.” The Yes on 20 group is largely financed by Charles Munger. To date all but $800 of the almost $2,000,000 that the Yes on 20 group has raised in 2010 has come from Munger, a Stanford physicist whose father is vice-chairman of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. In the second quarter of 2010, the Yes on 20 group spent almost $800,000. At the end of June, the Yes on 20 group held just over $150,000 cash on hand.

A group called “No on 20” has filed as against Proposition 20, but has not filed any financial documentation. The phone number on the California Secretary of State’s web site points to a Los Angeles-based public relations firm, Katherine Padilla & Associates.

Proposition 27

Proposition 27, which would eliminate the Citizens Redistricting Commission, is supported by two different groups. The first, “Yes on 27, Yes on Fair, a Coalition of Entrepreneurs, Working People, Business, Community Leaders such as Karen Bass, & Other Concerned Citizens Devoted to Eliminating Bureaucratic Waste of Taxpayer Dollars,” raised about $3.3 million dollars so far in 2010, and spent more than $2.7 million, primarily collecting signatures. While the group’s name implies otherwise, 31 of the group’s 40 reported donors are California Democratic politicians, PACs, or unions. One of the nine private citizens, Los Angeles entertainment executive Haim Saban provided the bulk of the group’s funding with a loan of $2 million. Curiously, Mr. Saban also donated to Proposition 11 in 2008, which Proposition 27 would repeal. The only other private donation of significance is Peter Angelos, a Baltimore labor and trial lawyer and majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team. Organizational donors include the Democratic State Central Committee of California and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, each of whom donated $250,000. At the end of June, the Yes on 27 group held almost $5oo,00o in its cash reserves.

Prop 27 is also supported by “TRUEPAC – Concerned Citizens Including Judy Chu to Support Proposition 27,” which has one donor, California 32nd district Democratic congresswoman Judy Chu. It holds just over $255,000 cash on hand and spent less than $2,000 in the first half of 2010.

Proposition 27 is opposed by the same committee supporting Proposition 20, whose finances are discussed above.

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