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The ballot's millionaires and billionaires

November 5, 2012 |  8:08 pm

Berggruen

Six of the 11 propositions voters consider Tuesday reflect the handiwork of individual millionaires and billionaires. They put up the cash to get them on the ballot and in some cases have funded almost the entire campaigns Here’s a look at the rich men and women behind the measures:

Molly Munger. The civil rights activist is emerging as the biggest individual spender in this election, with her brother, Charles Jr., close behind. The Mungers are the children of billionaire Charles Munger. Molly Munger has invested more than $47 million into Proposition 38, which would raise income taxes across the board for education and paying down the state’s debts.

Charles Munger Jr. The physicist and GOP activist bankrolled signature gathering for Proposition 32, which would curb political giving by labor unions and some corporations. Munger has spent more than $35 million on that measure and fighting Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike initiative. He and his sister have very different politics, but many mainstream Democrats despise them both. Charles, obviously, because of all the money he puts into GOP causes. Molly, because her tax measure threatens to drain support from the governor’s similar initiative.  

Tom Steyer. He is the manager of one of the biggest hedge funds in the world. An environmentalist and Democratic activist, Steyer almost single-handedly paid for the entire Proposition 39 campaign. The measure  would change the corporate tax code, resulting in roughly $1 billion in new taxes for companies based out of state. Half of that revenue would go to Steyer’s pet project, a state green building fund, for five years.

George Joseph. The 91-year-old insurance executive bankrolled one of the more obscure measures on the ballot, Proposition 33. The measure deals exclusively with car insurance and there is a lot riding on it for Joseph’s company, Mercury General Corp.

Nicholas Berggruen. He’s been called the “homeless billionaire.” Berggruen, an investor, sold his home in Manhattan more than a decade ago because he didn’t want possessions to control his life. He lives all over the world now. Lately, he’s been obsessed with reforming California government. He invested in Proposition 31, which would make procedural changes in how laws are drafted and the state budget is cobbled together.

Chris Kelly. The former Facebook investor made a run for attorney general in 2010 but lost in the Democratic primary. He’s back on the political scene with a law-and-order initiative.  His money got Proposition 35 on the ballot. It would considerably ratchet up penalties for human trafficking. 

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-- Evan Halper in Sacramento

Photo: Nicolas Berggruen, billionaire investor and founder of Berggruen Holdings Inc., with Arianna Huffington. Credit: Nadine Rupp / Getty Images

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