MapLight follows the money behind CA’s record-breaking ballot measure campaigns

December 09, 2016

This election season, MapLight was hot on the trail of the money fueling California’s ballot measure campaigns. It was a record-breaking election in California: with 17 statewide initiatives up for consideration, on issues ranging from the death penalty to school funding and beyond, spending on ballot measures topped $446 million—the most money spent on ballot measures in a single election since 2001 (and a number that will likely
grow as filings trickle in through January).

Prop. 61—the California Drug Price Relief Act, which would limit state spending on prescription drugs—was a prime example of the skyrocketing cost of ballot measure campaigns. By early November, contributions to the campaign against the measure (which ultimately failed to pass) exceeded $109 million, with Big Pharma contributing the lion’s share.

MapLight’s coverage of ballot measure spending was cited in over 100 stories, reaching more than 1.7 million people through the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Yahoo! Finance, the Mercury News, Capital Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio, the Sacramento  Bee, and other outlets. We also supplied custom research for a series of articles in Bloomberg exploring various ballot measures in depth.

In the months leading up to the election, the millions of dollars that poured into ballot measure campaigns to fund ads, mailers, and robocalls could have allowed wealthy special interests to exert outsized influence. MapLight’s research exposed this influence, bringing crucial information to the public in time for them to cast more informed votes.