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Review of Prop. 227 Campaign Spending

Yes on 227 was outspent by a ratio of nearly 20 to 1 in advertising

The Yes on 227 ("English for the Children") campaign committee was established in May 1997, and raised and spent nearly $900,000 through the end of 1997. The bulk of these funds were spent on gathering the nearly 800,000 signatures required to qualify Proposition 227 for the ballot. The cost of this qualification campaign was quite low by initiative standards (for example, during 1998, a group spent $3.5 million to qualify an initiative expanding the availability of Charter Schools in California). All this financial information is based on official campaign spending reports filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

Following qualification of Proposition 227, the Yes on 227 campaign raised and spent an additional $350,000 from Jan 1, 1998 through the June 2 election, of which approximately $200,000 was spent on advertising and voter contact activities.

By contrast, the main No on 227 campaign committee, which was formed late in 1997, raised and spent approximately $4.4 million from Jan 1, 1998 to June 2, 1998, of which approximately $3.9 million was spent on advertising and voter contact. In addition, two smaller No on 227 committees together raised and spent some $50,000 over those same months.

Thus, during the five months leading up to the June 2nd election, the No on 227 campaign outspent the Yes on 227 campaign by a overall ratio of more than 12 to 1, and by a ratio of nearly 20 to 1 in advertising.

Furthermore, A. Jerrold Perenchio, the Republican billionaire who funded much of the No on 227 campaign, also provided large quantities of free air time on his Univision television network to broadcast No on 227 editorials, with no equal time provided for Yes on 227 opposing views. Although estimating the actual value of this unreported in-kind contribution is difficult, the Los Angeles Times (5/22/98) reported that these 60 second editorials were running four times daily on each Univision station during the three weeks prior to the election. Depending on the times these editorials ran, the value of this air-time would be over $50,000 per day on KMEX-TV in Los Angeles, and perhaps another $25,000 for the other Univision stations in California, representing an additional in-kind advertising contribution of $1 to 2 million to the No on 227 campaign.