Sacramento Bee Examines Role of High-Income Individuals in Campaigns for Ballot Measures, Including Proposition 71
The Sacramento Bee on Friday examined support among some high-income individuals for measures on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, including Proposition 71 (Mecoy, Sacramento Bee, 10/29). The initiative would issue state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure could cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 10/26).
According to the Bee, "While wealthy Californians have helped bankroll ballot measures before, this year is the first in which three of them have turned different initiatives into their personal crusades."
For example, Robert Klein, a builder and financier active in the campaign in favor of Propostion 71, has donated about $3 million to the campaign and has solicited donations from "wealthy friends in the Silicon Valley venture capital and philanthropy community" to help raise more than $26 million.
Klein said, "Commitment doesn't come in half sizes," adding, "If it is important enough to do, it is important enough to use every resource you have."
The level of involvement among some high-income individuals has drawn criticism from some groups who question their influence in "setting the agenda" for the state, according to the Bee.
Elizabeth Garret, a director at the Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California, said, "The questions that are being asked are questions the wealthy want asked." She added, "The ability to set the agenda is a valuable commodity. But we allocate positions on the ballot based on money."
Additional information on Proposition 71 is available online.