Measure B: Who’s Really Behind the Money?

More than 1 million spent on fight over pension reform

In the showdown over pension reform, both sides have one thing in common, they are spending cash to win your vote.

The fight over Measure B in San Jose has drawn more than 1 million dollars in donations.

NBC Bay Area investigative reporter Jenna Susko crunched the data to find out who is behind the money.

Both sides of the Measure B campaign are bringing in donations: Supporters have raised $740,000.  Groups against the measure have received $525,000 in money and services.

Every contribution is detailed in long lists of dates, names, and numbers.

We took a look at the campaign supporting Measure B. On the surface, the biggest single contribution appeared to be $25,000.
The Investigative Unit cross referenced individuals with big name companies.

These four contributors all filed as individuals: Tench Coxe, $25,000, G. Leonard Maker JR., $25,000, William Younger, $10,000, and David Sweet, $1,000.  According to records, they all work for Sutter Hill Ventures in Palo Alto. Combined, they donated a total of $61,000.

NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston weighed in.

“They’re companies that will have to deal with things such as pensions, and what not as they grow. They probably view this as another impediment to the company’s ability to make money to succeed. So whatever they can do to keep costs down is in their interest when they’re funding these kinds of companies,” said Gerston.

Records show Alicia Goetz gave $10,000. Her husband is a partner at Sequoia Capital, a venture capital firm in Menlo Park.

Four others from that same company also donated: Michael Moritz, $25,000, Douglas Leone, $10,000, Thomas Stephenson, $5,000, and Christopher Lyle, $1,500, spending more than $40,000 to support Measure B. Sequoia Capital says it has no official stance on the measure and therefore, no comment.

Other big donors include:
Garden City Sanitation ($20,000)
Arcadia Development ($25,000)
Devcon President Gary Filizetti ($25,000)

According to city records, Arcadia Development and Devcon have had contracts with San Jose.  Garden City Sanitation is currently under contract with the city.

 “That’s a story that people need to know. Not necessarily to change their minds, but at least to be aware that the money is flowing in, in many respects, from people who have done business with the city and want to continue to business. In other words, let’s stay in the city’s good graces,” said Gerston.

The San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce has contributed $70,000; the most money in support of the measure.

“We recognize the importance of Measure B, so both the Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce and many other partners who felt that Measure B is important, contributed significant amounts of money to make sure that the message got out as to why it is important,” said Matthew Mahood, President of the Chamber of Commerce.

On the flip side, those who oppose Measure B were working the phones during the run up to June 5, in hopes of sinking the measure.

Contributors have given more than half a million dollars in cash and services to the campaign against Measure B. Almost all of it has come from The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“It is definitely a cause worth fighting for,” Yolanda Cruz told NBC Bay Area.  Cruz is the President of Local 101.  “It’s about protecting the working class and that’s what we’re working for.”

San Jose has grabbed the attention of people across the country. Records show donations are coming in from Texas, Oregon and Arizona in support of this local measure.

Many believe that if San Jose voters come out in support of pension reform, other cities will follow suit.

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