Capitol Alert

Tim Draper’s plan to slash California leaves political scars

Tim Draper presents his drivers license as he turns in boxes of petitions for a ballot initiative that sought to ask voters to split California into six separate states.
Tim Draper presents his drivers license as he turns in boxes of petitions for a ballot initiative that sought to ask voters to split California into six separate states. AP

Battles over intellectual property are commonplace in the Silicon Valley, home to Apple, Google and the wealthy venture capitalist Tim Draper, who this week launched a “Shark Tank”-style call for innovative proposals he could help put before California voters.

But Draper, whose plan to divide the state in six failed to qualify for the ballot last year, may not be so innovative himself, political consultant and Draper-rival Joe Rodota alleges.

Rodota, who led the committee opposed to the six state measure, points to a column he wrote last May on Fox & Hounds suggesting that Draper create a prize of $100,000 for the best ideas to fix the state, with a $1 million bonus for getting it approved by voters.

Rodota claims he later expanded on the idea in a meeting with Draper consultants over drinks.

“I am flattered that my suggestions were more or less adopted,” he said. “I am happy to submit a proposal – or be a judge.”

On Thursday, Team Draper pushed back, saying their plan differed from the one laid out by Rodota, and questioning his recall of their later conversation. Rob Stutzman, a spokesman for Draper, said Rodota must have had a “Brian Williams recollection,” a reference to the suspended NBC News anchor.

Rodota stands by what he remembers of the talks. Still, Stutzman wasn’t letting it go.

“Joe would be a good judge,” he said, noting that the “Shark Tank” panelists invest their own money. “But I am not sure he wants to bring his wallet.”

Call Christopher Cadelago, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5538. Follow him on Twitter @ccadelago.

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