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Proponents, opponents raise big bucks on Prop. 1

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 by Jo Clifton

While the Let’s Go Austin PAC was touting its fundraising efforts, opponents were quietly raising money, too. As the Monitor reported Tuesday, the pro-Proposition 1 group said it raised $485,876 during the most recent reporting period. That brings the overall fundraising total to $559,121, according to PAC officials. After expenses, they report $290,724 remaining. The November bond proposal totals $1 billion, with $400 million dedicated to road projects and $600 million dedicated to the first phase of the rail system.

The Downtown Austin Alliance was the largest contributor, giving the PAC $290,000. The Greater Austin Economic Development Corporation gave $75,000. The Real Estate Council of Austin PAC donated $15,000, as did developer Perry Lorenz. According to Lynda Rife, campaign manager for Let’s Go Austin, despite large contributions from the Downtown Austin Alliance and others, the group received contributions from 78 different sources, unlike the opponents, who raised their money from just 16 wealthy individuals and companies.

Those opponents, the Citizens Against Rail Taxes PAC that was started by consistent rail critic Jim Skaggs, reports it has collected nearly $279,000 since mid-August but had spent only $12,770 as of Sept. 25.

Despite the fact that Skaggs’ opponents have raised nearly twice as much money in support of Proposition 1, he is clearly expecting victory. But he’s not quite ready to say so.

Skaggs does point out that in several cities in which rail has been defeated, opponents have been outspent by a 10–1 margin.

The group reports that it had $266,000 cash on hand at the end of September. Skaggs personally contributed $50,000 to the PAC.

Other contributors to the anti-rail PAC include David Hartman and his wife, who is not named in the report, who chipped in with $50,000. Hartman is the founder of the Hartland Bank and is on the board of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank.

The biggest contributor is Janis S. Burrow, who gave $75,000. John C. Lewis, another longtime rail opponent, contributed $20,000. Skaggs said he does not know Burrow but thinks she is Lewis’ friend.

Harvey Ring contributed $25,000, and LOC LTD $35,000.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Gerald Daugherty is not listed as a contributor, but his wife contributed $7,500.

The group known as Our Rail, which says it supports rail generally but opposes this particular route, collected only $760 and spent less than $30 during the reporting period. They have $689 left. Scott Morris is the treasurer.

This story has been corrected. It originally identified David Hartman as a Texas Public Policy board member, which is incorrect.

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