Spending Hits Records On Ballot Measures

By Hank Plante

There was a rally in front of San Francisco City Hall Tuesday, to support Proposition 89, which could make California the first state in the nation to put limits on how much is spent on ballot measures. Supporters of Prop. 89 say it's necessary to stop the kind of political spending we're seeing this fall.

"Half a billion dollars. It's a disgrace the money is spent. This is a political industry, really, I mean lobbyists are paid off. Everyone's on the take," said Rose Ann DeMoro of the California Nurses Association. "In campaigns, all corporations and labor unions are limited in terms of how much money they can give to politicians. And what it does, it severly limits lobbyists too."

And indeed, look at the spending just on Proposition 87, which would tax oil in California, so the money could be used for alternative energy. A record $107 million dollars has been spent on both sides. The oil companies gave $60 million to fight it, and Hollywood moneyman Stephen Bing gave $40 million of his own money to support it, with ads that include President Bill Clinton.

Then there's Prop. 86, which would increase the cigarette tax. Two tobacco companies have already spent $54 million to defeat it.

But is Prop. 89, the campaign spending initiative, really the answer to this onslaught? No, say several newspaper editorials, and groups like the Chamber of Commerce.

"It's probably unconstituional, it places unfair limitations on different categories of participants of the political process," said Jim Lazarus of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. "The business community throughout the state, small and large are opposed to it. Again it's an unfair tax, small business, large business, it places 200 million dollars of taxpayer money into the political process. I'm not sure what the point of it is."

And there is one final note of irony on Propostion 89, which promises to get big money out of politics. Supporters held a fundraiser in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, which costs up to $1,000 a head. Apparently, it takes big money to fight big money.

See the article on CBS 5 Eyewitness News - Bay Area website

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