Capitol Alert

California’s criminal-penalty ballot measure draws big money

Almost $1 million has poured into campaign committees supporting and opposing Proposition 47 on the Nov. 4 ballot in the past week, with proponents of the measure to reduce penalties for certain crimes outraising critics by more than 4-to-1 over the past two months.

The initiative would change some drug and property crimes to misdemeanors instead of felonies. It would direct any savings to mental health and substance abuse treatment, efforts to reduce school truancy, and other programs.

Saturday, Public Storage executive B. Wayne Hughes contributed $505,000 to the yes-on-Prop. 47 committee, on top of the $750,000 he gave earlier this year. Last Thursday, Silicon Valley venture capitalist Sean Parker, a former president of Facebook, donated $100,000 to the yes-on-47 campaign.

A day earlier, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, an umbrella group of law-enforcement unions, gave $230,000 to the No-on-47 committee, which had raised less than $44,000 until then. The same day, New York-based Drug Policy Action gave $100,000 to Yes-on-47.

Other yes-on-47 donors who have given at least six figures: Washington-based Open Society Policy Center ($1.2 million); the New York-based Atlantic Advocacy Fund ($600,000); education activist Molly Munger ($325,447); Netflix CEO Reed Hastings ($246,700); San Francisco attorney Steven C. Phillips ($125,000); and Oakland attorney M. Quinn Delaney ($100,000).

The Open Society Policy Center has reported receiving its money from the New York-based Fund for Policy Reform, a nonprofit established by billionaire financier George Soros. The Atlantic Advocacy Fund was established by billionaire Charles Feeney. Drug Policy Action, meanwhile, is another group linked to Soros that has given money to marijuana legalization campaigns in Oregon and elsewhere.

Since Aug. 1, the yes-on-47 committee has raised almost $1.2 million. Opponents have raised $273,500. A Public Policy Institute of California poll released this week found that 62 percent of likely voters back the measure, 25 percent oppose it, and 13 percent have no opinion.