Election 2016: Big Pharma’s $70 Million Tops California Campaign Contributions

by Tracy Seipel, San Jose Mercury News

Pills and money


With Californians facing the busiest ballot in more than a decade, big spenders are poised to make it one of the most expensive election battles in state history — already contributing $185 million to fight over everything from sex, drugs and guns to tobacco and taxes.

The money is piling up on behalf of campaigns for 17 statewide ballot measures — the most since March 2000. And when it comes to big backers, Big Pharma is far and away the towering force.

According to figures released Monday by the nonprofit MapLight, drug companies have already poured $70 million into an effort to fight Proposition 61, which would limit the prices state agencies pay for prescription drugs.

That’s 38 percent of all the money so far invested into the various ballot measures through July 7, the Berkeley-based group reported. Some observers are predicting drug company contributions will top $100 million by Election Day.

“This is their bread and butter,” said Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of Sacramento State’s Institute for the Study of Politics and Media, who expects the industry will invest as much money as its needs to win.

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