California Ballot Initiatives Dominated By Wealthy
Friday, October 26, 2012
Aired 10/26/12 on KPBS News.
At one point a group of volunteers could get an initiative on California’s ballot. But this election, single wealthy individuals are personally bankrolling four of the 11 propositions.
Billionaire Tom Steyer is spending 22 million on Proposition 39. Attorney Molly Munger is spending 30 million on Prop 38. The list of individuals personally bankrolling ballot initiatives goes on.
All together four of the 11 measures are supported by multimillionaires. Equally wealthy critics are spending millions fighting the measures. Kevin Starr, a history professor at University of Southern California, said that's only been the case in the last few decades, partly because of the influence of social media and instant communication.
"Communication changes everything," commented Starr. "The modalities of communication change everything to include politics and to include the kind of money that has to be spent to convince millions of people."
But Starr said it's also a sign that more people think of political spending as free speech.