How did billionaire-backed ballot measures fare?

At least 25 out-of-state billionaires gave more than $70 million to initiatives nationwide



Voters decided more than 150 state ballot measures across the country Tuesday, and out-of-state billionaires’ bets on some of the highest profile initiatives mostly paid off.

At least 25 remote tycoons made sizable contributions to the $1.12 billion raised nationwide for state ballot measure campaigns.

Combined, those billionaires gave more than $70 million to campaigns in 19 states, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis published Oct. 18. At least another $7.2 million came from billionaires to campaigns in their home states.

Voters agreed with at least 14 out of 22 ballot measure campaigns backed by billionaires from other states, with one Utah measure to create an independent redistricting commission still too close to call.

Billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Policy Center celebrated success in five of the nine ballot measure campaigns it supported, including a Louisiana measure to require unanimous jury verdicts for felony convictions and a Florida measure to restore voting rights to felons.

“These ballot initiatives demonstrate the importance of direct democracy in reflecting the voice of the people, and advancing the values of justice, equality, transparency and accountability,” said Bill Vandenberg, who directs Open Society’s state work.

But some cash-flush, billionaire-backed ballot measure campaigns did fall short, including Ohio’s Issue One to reduce many drug felonies to misdemeanors and Arizona’s Proposition 127 to require utilities to use more renewable energy. The Ohio measure was backed by Soros, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and more; the Arizona measure campaign was funded by California billionaire Tom Steyer.

Here’s where billionaires put their ballot measure money and how they fared:

Laura and John Arnold are donors to the Center for Public Integrity. Open Society Foundations, which Soros funds, was previously a donor to the Center. More details on our funders.

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