Union $$ oppose Tribes, protect seniority system

On Friday, the Pechanga Band of Temecula, one of the big four tribes who stand to gain from passage of California Propositions 94 to 97 and 17,000 new slot machines, contributed $30.8 million in support of these propositions. [Editor's note/correction: On Thursday, $10 million was contributed by the Morongo Tribe. A total of $54.5 million has been contributed in support of Propositions 94-97 by the four tribes. The Pechange contributions are $20.3 million of that amount.]

This brings the total to the yes on 94-97 campaign to $68 million dollars, dwarfing not only the amount raised by opponents who seek to overturn the legislature’s approval of the slot machine compacts, but all contributions made on the other ballot measures being considered February 5, 2008 — including term limits.

The last regular reports of campaign contributions on the California Secretary of State’s website are out of date. One has to look at the late and over $5,000 contributions to get an idea of where the money is coming from and going to — at least so far — on the often overlooked ballot propositions that voters will (hopefully) be grappling with in addition to choosing a Presidential candidate for the November election.

Billions of dollars — estimated to be as high as a net win of $60.2 billion for these four tribes are at stake.

This may be only the beginning of money spent, almost exclusively by the tribes on the yes side.

The second largest amount of money on ballot propositions in this cycle is on the “no” side of the Prop 94-97 gambling propositions, and most of it also comes from tribes — those who are not part of the arrangement with the four tribes. At least $11.5 million of the opposition funding comes from “Tribes for Fair Play” out of what appears to be $28 million raised in opposition. There is substantial money — millions each from race tracks and labor that make up the balance. A significant portion of the money raised by opponents was spent on qualifying the four referenda for the ballot.

By contrast, the “yes on 93” campaign to reform California’s term limit laws is a piker, coming in at $10.7 million with the “no on 93 side showing a over $3.5 million in contributions. The amount of money contributed to the yes side of the casino measures on Friday alone is triple the entire amount raised by those who want to reform term limits.

The “yes on 93” money comes from a large list of California interests — from labor to groups that include the pharmaceutical industry and Democratic members of the California Assembly. The “no on 93” money that can be found on the Secretary of State’s site, including late and large contributions reported, comes almost exclusively from Fairfax Virginia — over $3 million from U.S. Term Limits Inc. or Term Limits America PAC located there.

Those supporting Proposition 92, the Community Colleges Funding, Fees, and Governance measure have raised $4 million while opponents are only showing about $800,000. Most of the backing for the “yes on 92” side comes from teachers and groups affiliated with the Community Colleges while the “no on 92” money is virtually all from the California Teachers Association which opposes the measure because of possible effects on K-12 educational funding.

There is one other measure on the ballot, Prop 91 — an orphaned item on the ballot — that has had no major funds spent for or against it. In fact, the “yes on 91” argument in the ballot pamphlet even urges a “no” vote because it was superseded by an agreement passed with the infrastructure bond measures in 2006 — but too late to be taken off the February 2008 ballot.


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