Bloomberg News

California Ballot Issues Draw $351 Million, Group Says

October 26, 2012

Campaigns for and against 11 California ballot propositions have raised $350.7 million to influence voters, according to MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization.

The figure has almost tripled since $118 million was reported in August. Campaign finance data show more than a third of the money comes from four people, Berkeley, California-based MapLight said yesterday.

About $126.2 million came from the four, who include Molly Munger and her brother, Charles Munger Jr., the children of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (A:US) Vice Chairman Charles Munger. The others are hedge-fund executive Thomas Steyer and insurance company founder George Joseph, the organization said.

California is among 24 states that allow unelected individuals to take their ideas directly to voters. The 11 measures on November’s ballot are the most in a single California election since 2008.

Molly Munger, a lawyer in Los Angeles, has donated $44.1 million in support of Proposition 38, her plan to increase taxes to help schools.

Charles Munger Jr., a physicist who lives in Palo Alto, gave a combined $36.5 million, the bulk of which went to the Small Business Action Committee, a group that supports Proposition 32, which would ban corporations and unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes.

The group also opposes Proposition 30, a tax-increase plan offered by California Governor Jerry Brown, a 74-year-old Democrat, that competes with Molly Munger’s proposal.

Steyer, the founder of $20 billion hedge fund Farallon Capital Management LLC, has given $29 million mostly in support of Proposition 39. The measure would require multistate businesses to calculate their California income-tax liability based on the percentage of their sales in the state.

Insurance Proposal

Joseph, the founder and chief executive of Mercury General Corp. (MCY:US), donated $16.4 million mainly in support of Proposition 33, which would allow auto insurers to set prices based on whether a driver was previously covered by insurance.

The record for financial support of California ballot measures was set in 2008, when $477.7 million was raised, including $107 million for a proposal to end same-sex marriages, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, based in Helena, Montana.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alison Vekshin in San Francisco at avekshin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net


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