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The Money Trail of Measure A

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.

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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.

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7 Comments
  1. brianld567 2 years ago
    Reply

    I got a text message for a survey from (408) 290-3564 which leads to a marketing company called VoxLoca built by some guy named “Ryan Buckley.” The questions lead you to believe that the opponents are more disconnected that the proponents. I’m a firm believer in “actions” speak louder than words and actions in this case might as well be replaced by money. And as this article shows, the money is from Texas and Maryland… which is waaaaaay further away from Evergreen Valley College. The survey isn’t lying by saying that the opponents are not in Santa Clara, but it is purposely misleading the participant by making it seem the opponents are more detached than the proponents. After taking the survey I initially wanted to vote yes, but now after being educated of the full situation I’m going to vote “NO.” WTH does Maryland and Texas want with my community? Mind your own damn beeswax.

  2. Ed 2 years ago
    Reply

    More about FairVote’s dark money funding with John Arnold, leading the effort to crush public pensions.: https://protectpensions.org/2018/03/29/retirement-security-initiative/

    Since beginning his crusade against public pensions, John Arnold has been relentless in his attacks on retirement security for working families. Often, he pays others to do his dirty work for him. For example, he funds biased research from the Pew Research Center. He has also funded failed ballot measures to gut public pensions. Recently, Arnold has begun funding a group that is much more explicit in its mission to eliminate public pensions. Armed with a cunningly deceptive name, the so-called Retirement Security Initiative (RSI) has been one of the most active opponents of public pensions in recent years.

    If you had any doubt about RSI’s true intentions, their leader is none other than Chuck Reed, the former mayor of San Jose who led the attacks on pensions in that city. After leaving office and failing repeatedly to get a measure placed on the ballot to gut public pensions throughout California, Reed has set up shop at RSI where he now leads a nationwide crusade against public pensions.

  3. TheGoodShipSantaClara 2 years ago
    Reply

    I’m hard pressed to see how ranked choice voting will lead to destroying public employee pensions. While that may be an interest of one of FairVote’s backers, it is to their credit that they back ranked choice IRV as that would ensure the candidate with the broadest appeal is determined in a single election. I have yet to hear that the Hewlett Foundation and Omidyar, who are local, view this as anything other than achieving more representative government.

    What I don’t get is the division into 2 districts with 3-at-large each. That seems little different than a single district with 6-at large. I fully expect the judge in the civil rights case to either conclude such immediately or after an additional (and rapidly-held) evidentiary hearing.

    Since I support instant-runoff voting in principle and have yet to hear any argument against it on the merits (rather than attacks on its backers other interests) I’ll probably support Measure A.

    • Will_M 2 years ago
      Reply

      I’m a long time volunteer for election reform, the districts are so we can use the best form of Ranked Choice, Multi-Winner Ranked choice. Under the current, single-winner only groups that get 51% of the vote ever win any elections and the other 48% of voters get no representation at all. But under Multi-winner groups that get 30% of the vote, get 30% of the seats. It is by far the best way to ensure minority representation. Here is a video that explains it in more detail, if you have any questions. It uses the term “single transferable vote” but it’s the same thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8XOZJkozfI

      It is really disappointing to see the a hit piece like this run against such a great system. This system is used in Cambridge, Minneapolis and several other countries and it always leads to increased diversity. I think the political establishment is against it because it also tends to reduce the power of political parties.

  4. TheGoodShipSantaClara 2 years ago
    Reply

    And by the way: thanks for the records link! Still needs improvement as the best practice would to link directly to the documents cited. Took a while to get to the right record through the “portal”.

  5. SC Resident 2 years ago
    Reply

    Let’s not forget the multitude of mailers we’ve been receiving from the city as well promoting Measure A. Who pays for that? We, the taxpayers!
    No on A website: https://noasantaclara.com/

  6. Will_M 2 years ago
    Reply

    I’m a long time volunteer for election reform, and I have been fighting in favor of this reform for years, since long before Measure A. It is really disappointing to see the a hit piece like this run against such a great system. This system is used in Cambridge, Minneapolis and several other countries and it always leads to increased diversity. I think maybe they ran this hit piece because the political establishment is against it, this system also tends to reduce the power of political parties.

    Under the current system, we use winner take-all elections, so only groups that get 51% of the vote ever win any elections and the other 49% of voters get no representation at all. But under Multi-winner RCV groups that get 30% of the vote, get 30% of the seats. It is by far the best way to ensure minority representation. Here is a video that explains it in more detail, it uses the term “single transferable vote” but it’s the same thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8XOZJkozfI

    (edit: not sure why the link doesn’t work, but if you cut and paste it, the video starts, it uses animals to represent political parties, so they have the Turtle Party and the Monkey Party, etc…)

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