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Soft Drink, Beer, Oil Industries Give Big to Prop 30

Sep 28, 2012

Governor Brown at the kickoff rally for Prop 30 earlier this year
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Supporters of California Governor Jerry Brown’s November tax initiative have raised more than $25 million since the start of the year. That includes large donations not just from traditional Democratic allies like labor unions, but some major industries and corporations as well.

Occidental Petroleum has donated $500,000 to the governor’s “Yes on 30” campaign. The California Beer and Beverage Distributors political action committee has chipped in $250,000. And the American Beverage Association has raised nearly two million dollars for its own PAC that supports Brown’s Proposition 30. That includes $700,000 from Coca-Cola and $560,000 from Pepsi. Ask them why, and you’ll get an answer like this one from Karen Hanretty with the American Beverage Association:

“We create a lot of jobs in the state of California. So it’s important to us to help Governor Brown manage the state’s chronic budget deficit and help him be part of the solution in California.”

But Republican political consultant Rob Stutzman believes there’s a deeper reason for such seemingly unlikely business support for Brown’s tax measure.

“What specific industries are concerned about – such as the beverage industry – is that there will be taxes that are specific to them. So are you gonna tax soda? Are you gonna tax tobacco? Are you gonna tax oil?”

Stutzman says those industries would much rather see a broad-based tax like the governor’s pass instead – and that’s what’s driving their contributions. But while corporations wouldn't be hurt much by Prop 30, small businesses could be – and that’s why the National Federation of Independent Businesses is a leading opponent and donor to the “No on 30” campaign.