Opponents of Prop. 227 lead in fund raising

Spanish-media mogul alone donates $1.5 million of $3.9 million in 'No' camp

The campaign to defeat the statewide ballot initiative that would end bilingual education programs in the public schools may be trailing in the polls, but it’s winning in the fund-raising department.

The latest round of campaign finance documents shows that the No on Proposition 227 campaign collected $3.9 million as of May 16. The Yes on Prop. 227 campaign collected $812,000 — most in loans from initiative backer Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley multimillionaire.

“I think it demonstrates the true magnitude of the opposition to Proposition 227,” said No on Prop. 227 spokeswoman Holli Thier.

The June 2 ballot initiative would eliminate bilingual education programs in California’s public schools in favor of a one-year English immersion program taught “overwhelmingly” in English.

Opponents of Prop. 227 got a big boost from Jerry Perenchio, a media mogul from the Spanish-language network Univision Communications, who donated
$1.5 million to defeat the initiative. The California Teachers Association Political Action Committee donated $650,000. Both contributions came in late April.

Prop. 227 opponents said the bulk of the contributions were used on English and Spanish television ads that ran earlier this month and on a separate ad that will air today.

Campaign consultant Richie Ross said Friday that his campaign will try to create a new anti-227 advertisement over the Memorial Day weekend.

The Yes on Prop. 227 campaign received just one big contribution in the last reporting period between March 18 and May 16. The $50,000 contribution came in early April from former Board of Education member William J. Hume.
Hume is the chairman and CEO of Basic American Foods Corp., a San Francisco-based food service company.

According to media reports, Hume donated $100,000 to public school voucher initiatives in Oregon and Colorado. He was elected to the board of trustees of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington-based think tank in 1993.

Sylvia Adams, Hume’s executive assistant, said her boss is unavailable for comment because he is traveling in Ireland. She said Hume’s wife, Patricia,
is from Chile and their three children speak Spanish fluently.

A spokeswoman for Prop. 227 said the fund-raising prowess of opponents could affect the election.

“Since they’re outspending us greatly, I’m sure it will affect the numbers,” said Prop. 227 spokeswoman Sheri Annis. “We’re certainly going to do the forums and get the word out about the initiative as much as possible and continue on the grassroots level as much as we can.”

Annis said the Prop. 227 campaign, known as English for the Children,
has spent about $1.25 million. She said the campaign had more money in its coffers than appears on recent campaign finance reports because of fund-raising prior to Jan. 1, the date when reporting began.

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