Over $100,000 has been raised to date on the Measure A campaign: $7,800 of it by the No on A committee and $92,700 of it to the Yes on A committee—$85,000 of which comes from two John and Laura Arnold-funded political advocacy organizations.
No on A: $7,800
No on A’s campaign finance reports show total donations of $7,800, almost all from Santa Clara County and all between $100 and $1,000. Attorney Richard Konda of the Asian Law Alliance—from the law firms representing the plaintiffs in the current voting rights lawsuit against Santa Clara—donated $100.
Two political committees donated to No on A: the Sunnyvale-based Asian Pacific Islander Americans for Civic Empowerment PAC and the San José/Evergreen Faculty Association (San José City College and Evergreen Community College Teachers Union)
The Asian Pacific Islander PAC’s financial resources are currently $7,800 and its total spending this year was $9,800. Its donors are private individuals and local politicians and unions in California.
Yes on A: $92,700
Yes on A has received $92,700 in donations, $62,200 of it in cash. Two donors contributed a total of $85,000 in cash and services: Maryland-based 501(c)(3) FairVote and the Texas-based organization, Action Now Initiative LLC. Yes on A also received $3,000 in from Sacramento-based Californians for Electoral Reform, and the remainder from individual donations ranging from $100 to $1,000.
FairVote’s leading donor is Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which has given the advocacy group over $4 million in grants. The Arnold Foundation was founded by billionaire John Arnold, who founded the Centaurus hedge fund with his 2001 $8 million bonus from Enron, where he was a gas-trader.
The Arnold Foundation’s pre-eminent big issues are eliminating defined benefit public pensions and letting pension funds make riskier investments—“public accountability” and “pension reform”—and promoting charter schools—”education reform.” The Arnold Foundation funds the Campaign Legal Center and FairVote as part of its efforts against gerrymandering and entrenched incumbency. The Foundation has about $2 billion in assets, according to its 2016 tax returns.
FairVote’s other major funders are the Hewlett Foundation and Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar.
The Arnolds also fund the Action Now Initiative, a 501(c)(4) that is focused on education about “obesity, education, pension and criminal justice reform” according to its federal tax returns. Action Now is also a FairVote funder. The Arnolds’ Action Now Initiative LLC—they are two of the three managers—was created in January 2018, according to the business entity’s registration with the Texas Secretary of State.
The Arnolds, via FairVote and Action Now, have financed campaigns for ranked choice voting around the U.S. including in Maine and Minnesota. Action Now also made a behested donation of $200,000 to the San José Chamber of Commerce at the request of former San José Mayor Chuck Reed in 2013.
FairVote’s support for Yes on A includes everything from campaign strategy to voter files, paid campaign staff and political consultants, public opinion surveys, translation services, office supplies, editorial and placement help for contributed opinion pieces and even refreshments for events, according to the group’s financial filings.
Campaign disclosure statements are accessible from the Santa Clara City Clerk’s webpage, www.santaclaraca.gov/government/departments/city-clerk-auditor/campaign-disclosure-forms-and-filings. Information about California political committees and their donors can be found at the Secretary of State’s website. Information about 501(c)(3) and (4) organizations can be found at irs.gov.