Capitol Alert

National ACLU spends big for California’s Proposition 47

In this Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010 file photo, philanthropist George Soros speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, in New York. A Soros-sponsored group has given $1.2 million to the yes-on-Proposition 47 campaign.
In this Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010 file photo, philanthropist George Soros speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, in New York. A Soros-sponsored group has given $1.2 million to the yes-on-Proposition 47 campaign. AP

The American Civil Liberties Union has contributed $3.5 million to the campaign to pass Proposition 47 in recent days, making it the largest donor to the Nov. 4 measure that would reduce penalties for certain crimes.

The New York-based organization gave $2 million last Friday and another $1.5 million on Tuesday to the yes-on-47 campaign. Other top contributors are B. Wayne Hughes, a Malibu Republican and conservative Christian businessman who has given $1.26 million, and the Open Society Policy Center, an entity founded by liberal billionaire George Soros, which has contributed $1.21 million.

With this week’s ACLU money, Proposition 47 supporters have outraised law-enforcement opponents by more than 20-to-1. Through Tuesday, proponents had raised $8.8 million and opponents had collected less than $434,000.

Proposition 47 would change certain property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. People already convicted of such crimes could apply for reduced sentences. And any state savings would be spent on services to reduce truancy, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and victim services.

The ACLU declined to comment. The national organization has not contributed to any other California campaign this election cycle, state filings show, although its Northern California chapter gave $40,000 to the yes-on-47 campaign in August.

“We’re pleased with the broad range of support from a wide variety of people and organizations,” yes-on-47 chief of staff Becca Slutzky said of the donation.

Call Jim Miller, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5521. Follow him on Twitter @jimmiller2.

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