Goliath Gets Bigger: Prop. 1 War Chest Grows to $16.4 Million


Posted on 03 November 2014

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By Dan Bacher

The debate over the pros and cons of Prop. 1, Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, is very important, but an even bigger issue in any environmental battle or process is the money behind the campaign.

The big corporate money behind the water bond largely determines who the bond will benefit - billionaires, corporate agribusiness, oil companies and the 1 percent, not the people, fish or wildlife of California.

Contributions to Governor Jerry Brown's Yes on Props 1 and 2 Committee have jumped to $13,880,528.43, according to the latest data posted on the California Secretary of State's website.

The contributions feature millions of dollars from billionaires, corporate agribusiness, Big Oil and and the tobacco industry - corporate interests that all expect a big return for their "investment" in the corrupt "play to pay" politics that rule California today.

Contributions to the committee from the period from October 1 to October 18 alone amount to $9,537,048.90.

Expenditures during the period from January 1 through October 18 were $10,728,645.50, with $10,149,477.92 just from the period of October 1 to October 18.

But this isn’t the only committee funding the Yes on 1 campaign. When you consider the other committees backing Prop.1 listed on the Secretary of State’s website, the total amount of contributions jumps by another $2,541,257 to $16,421,785!

The "California Business Political Action Committee," sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce raised, $550,000 for Yes on 1 and 2 during the period from January 1 to October 18, 2014.

The “Wetlands Conservation Committee, Yes on Prop. 1," sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Audubon California and the Nature Conservancy, raised $215,000 from January 1 through October 18.

Other committees backing Prop. 1 include:

  • The Conservation Action Fund: $818,623.78
  • The Sac Valley Water & Rice For Prop 1: $44,499.00
  • Think Long Committee, sponsored by the Nicolas Berggruen Institute Trust, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $250,000
  • Western Plant Health Association, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $100,000
  • NRDC Action Fund Ballot Measures Committee - Yes on Prop. 1: $ 9,514.27
  • Environmental Coalition for Water and Wildlife Protection – Yes on Prop. 1: $102,000
  • The Southern California District County Laborers PAC: $58,219.02
  • The California Water Association Political Issues Committee – Yes on Prop. 1: $100,000
  • Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition Issues PAC – Yes on Props 1 and 2: $293,401.84

Oil, Agribusiness, Health Care Industry and Billionaires Lead Prop. 1 Contributors

While the committees backing Prop. 1 have raised over $16.4 million to date, the Vote No on Prop. 1 campaign, has raised $89,100 and has spent $53,077.

The campaign for and against Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November 4 ballot, remains the classic David and Goliath battle of this election season in California.

Governor Jerry Brown, the Republican and Democratic Party establishment, corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies, construction unions, corporate "environmental" NGOs, prominent billionaires, the health care industry and big water agencies are backing the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. In contrast, a grassroots coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, consumer organizations, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta water agencies is campaigning to defeat Proposition 1.

The top 18 campaign contributors – those who donated $250,000 or more - have raised a total of $11,835,279 to date for the Yes on Prop. 1 and campaign, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). (http://fppc.ca.gov/...)

Dignity Health, which contributed $250,000, is the latest corporate contributor to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. That donation followed the contribution of $250,000 to the campaign by Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil.

The Bakersfield-based Aera Energy is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company’s website. (http://www.aeraenergy.com/...)

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, have donated a total of $850,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000 and the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000.

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of Paramount Farms and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000 and the California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign.

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels - and have made millions off reselling environmental water to the public.

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign to date remains Sean Parker, who has contributed $1 million to the campaign. Parker is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook. He also cofounded Plaxo, Causes, and Airtime.

Four members of the Fisher family, who own the controversial Gap stores and Mendocino Redwood Company, have collectively donated $1.5 million to the Yes. on Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 campaign.

Doris F. Fisher contributed $499,000, John J. Fisher $351,000, Robert J. Fisher $400,000 and William S. Fisher $250,000. The Gap become notorious among labor and human rights advocates for employing sweatshop labor in the Third World to produce its clothes.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris also contributed $100,000 to Governor Brown’s ballot measure committee established to support Propositions 1 and 2. On October 20, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) called on the governor to return that money.

In contrast to the $13,212,726 in donations to the Prop. 1 and 2 campaigns listed on the FPPC website, the FPPC states, “No committee opposing this ballot measure raised enough money to reach the reporting threshold."

Folks like Stewart Resnick, the Fisher Family and other billionaires, the oil industry and corporate agribusiness interests aren't dumping millions into the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign for the common good or benefit of all Californians - they're doing it as a relatively small investment to advance their own greedy interests and to further privatize and plunder the public trust for their own personal profit.

Six simple reasons why you should vote no on Prop 1:

  1. Prop. 1 will spend $2.7 billion for costly and inefficient dams and bill the public for the expense.
  2. Prop. 1 would support the Governor’s Twin Tunnels project, as indicated by his Stanford speech on October 20. Brown said that Proposition 1 would provide components missing from the State Water Project “enacted by my father.” These components, Brown ominously intoned, would “deal with the Delta.”
  3. Prop. 1 violates the public trust. The bond provides hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to purchase water allegedly for public trust purposes, to then divert it from the Delta as “abandoned” water for billionaires’ almond orchards.
  4. Prop. 1 ignores the bedrock realities of California’s water dilemma. Consumptive water right claims in California already exceed the amount of available water by 5.5 times. Proposition 1 does nothing to rectify this situation. Indeed, it ignores the one thing that must be done if we’re going to stabilize the state’s water policies: balance water rights claims to actual water supplies.
  5. Prop. 1 provides no strategies to mitigate the impacts of drought. The bond is thus a classic bait-and-switch: It implicitly promises drought solutions it does not deliver.
  6. Prop. 1 underfunds recycling, conservation and other drought solutions that will provide local jobs and reduce reliance on imported water supplies.

For more information, go to No On Prop 1 dot org.


This article was originally published at Daily Kos.