Large donation fuels fight for Prop 32, against Prop 30

10:44 PM, Oct 16, 2012   |    comments
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A big campaign contribution reported on Tuesday night raises some interesting questions about the forces aligned to simultaneously kill Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative and pass an initiative to curtail the political power of organized labor.

A Phoenix based political action committee, Americans for Responsible Leadership, wrote an $11 million check to the political committee fighting Proposition 30 and supporting Proposition 32.

So which effort is the cash infusion for? One initiative? Both?

"We don't reveal our campaign strategy," said Beth Miller, a spokesperson for the anti-tax group running the political committee, the Small Business Action Committee.

That brings the group's total cash in the November effort to a little more than $29 million.  The Small Business Action Committee PAC's other big donor, so far, has been wealthy GOP activist Charles Munger, Jr. It was his sister, Proposition 38 proponent Molly Munger, who says her brother only intended his money be used for the pro-Prop 32 effort, and not against Brown's measure.

But the dual political committee clearly has now become the epicenter of conservative politics in the November proposition fight.  The group's backer, Joel Fox, is a longtime anti-tax activist who has been fighting Brown's tax hike from the beginning.

The governor's campaign team wasted no time in blasting the new money.  "Shadowy out of state tea partiers attacking California schools," wrote strategist Dan Newman in a Tuesday night email.

So far, it's hard to tell much about the innocuous sounding Americans for Responsible Leadership.  A Facebook page for the group simply says it "seeks to promote the general welfare by educating the public on concepts that advance government accountability, transparency, ethics, and related public policy issues."

Interestingly enough, the PAC is fighting efforts at a top-two primary in Arizona, Proposition 121.  And yet their fellow big donor to California's Yes on Prop 32/No on Prop 30 campaign, Charles Munger, Jr., was one of the main financial backers of California's effort, 2010's Proposition 14.

Organized labor's No on Prop 32 effort has nonetheless outraised supporters; campaign finance reports show more than $53 million in contributions to kill the measure, which would ban political contributions by employee paychecks -- a staple of union fundraising.

But like so many campaigns this season, there's considerable action in political committees that aren't the main supporters or opponents of initiatives.  Which brings us back to the Small Business Action PAC... and how the group will divvy up it newly enlarged pie over the next three weeks.


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