Brown's Early Tax Initiative Donors: Hospitals, Oil, Tribes

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Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative campaign reports more than $1.45 million in contributions. (Photo:Getty/Justin Sullivan)

Governor Jerry Brown looks to be off to a strong start in collecting cash for his November tax initiative, with cash coming from some of the same groups his predecessor argued were the problem in California politics.

Campaign finance records show as of this weekend, Brown had reported more than $1.45 million in contributions. Those dollars were raised in the first month of the governor's efforts, and will no doubt help pay for signature gathering now that his tax increase initiative has hit the streets.

The three largest donations came from some not-so-always aligned groups: the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems ($500,000), the State Building Trades Council ($250,000), and Occidental Petroleum ($250,000). $100,000 contributions have come from two Indian gaming tribes and Blue Shield of California.

What these early dollars seem to clearly show is that Governor Brown is eager to crate a coalition of support for his tax hike that spans the political spectrum. And that includes those who don't agree with him on every issue.

Take Occidental, a major player in the 2010 campaign in support of Proposition 23. That was the initiative designed to either delay or kill (depending on your viewpoint) the state's landmark climate change law, AB 32. In fact, Oxy's participation in that campaign earned them criticism from then Governor Arnold Schwarznegger, a longtime ally of Occidental and other oil companies.

In fact, it seems noteworthy that Schwarzenegger's definition of the infamous "special interests" in California politics now matches up rather nicely with Jerry Brown's tax initiative donors: organized labor, Indian gaming tribes, and Big Oil. Indian tribes, in particular, have found a more friendly ear in the governor's office with Brown than with Schwarzenegger. And while these are only early donors to the cause, they do offer a glimpse at how the governor sees the campaign that lies ahead.

Update 3:36 p.m. In an email, Brown campaign adviser Steve Glazer says the governor is reaching out to "all individuals, businesses and associations who support our tough cuts and temporary tax solution for the state," groups that believe the proposal puts California on "sound financial footing for economic expansion and job creation."

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new California Politics & Government Desk. He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades, serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and most recently as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. In 2014, he was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.
  • Druglez

    From what I understand he wants to raise the CA income tax by 1% to people who make 250k and raise sales tax by 1/2cent. Unless he made an amendment to his initiative, I don’t see why so make places are lobbying. Except for the OIL companies, which another initiative, is being circles to raise their taxes has CA is the only state that doesn’t take oil companies for drilling oil on their land.