Policy Documents

Vested Interests Pour Big Money into Defeating California Prop 23

James M. Taylor –
October 22, 2010

Opponents of California Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s costly renewable energy mandates until the California economy pulls out of its current slump, are flooding the media with claims of corporate Big Money being funneled to Prop 23 supporters. According to the anti-Prop 23 narrative, the initiative is a battle between the Goliath of Big Corporate Money supporting Prop 23 versus the David of underfunded concerned private citizens opposing Prop 23. Nothing could be further from the truth, given the avalanche of anti-Prop 23 money pouring in from environmental activist groups, liberal political action funds, and the renewable power industry that make the pro-Prop 23 contributions look like mere chump change.

The non-partisan group MAPLight.org, which is tracking campaign funding on both sides of the issue, reports that Prop 23 opponents have spent $30 million to defeat the initiative, while supporters have spent only $9 million. Liberal activist Thomas Steyer has alone spent $5 million to defeat Prop 23, the National Wildlife Foundation has spent $3 million, and the Sierra Club has spent another $1.2 million. These three alone have spent more money than all of the Prop 23 supporters combined.

Throw in such vested-interest contributors as the Green Tech Action Fund, the ClimateWorks Foundation, and the League of Conservation Voters, and it is not too difficult to see who is really playing the role of David and who is playing the role of Goliath in the battle for Big Money influence.