The effort to defeat Proposition 53 last November relied heavily on money from Gov. Jerry Brown, whose re-election committee gave the no-on-53 campaign more than $4.1 million in the weeks leading up to the election, with $2.4 million of that a loan.
That loan is now history.
The no-on-53 campaign recently reported that Brown’s re-election committee had forgiven the $2.4 million loan, converting it into a cash contribution and absolving the campaign of raising money to repay the Democratic governor’s account.
Bankrolled by Stockton-area agribusinessman Dean “Dino” Cortopassi and his wife, Joan, Proposition 53 would have required a public vote on any revenue bonds of $2 billion or more. The measure posed a serious threat to a pair of projects championed by Brown: the construction of twin tunnels to carry water under the Sacrament-San Joaquin Delta and a high-speed rail project.
Through September, a coalition of building trades unions and business interests had raised about $1.5 million to defeat the measure. Amid signs of a tightening contest, Brown’s re-election committee gave $1.7 million to the no-on-53 campaign Oct. 7 and loaned the $2.4 million Oct. 17. The money helped pay for anti-53 television ads in which Brown alleged that the measure “increases the cost of roads, bridges and hospitals.”
In the closest finish of any of the 17 fall ballot measures, Proposition 53 failed by 151,646 votes, 49.4 percent to 50.6 percent of the vote.