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Uber, Lyft rain money on Prop 1 election

Monday, May 2, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

Uber and Lyft have dropped a financial bomb in their mutual effort to push Proposition 1 to electoral victory on May 7.

Campaign finance reports filed on Friday revealed that both ride-hailing corporations in April contributed nearly $6 million to Ridesharing Works for Austin, the political action committee campaigning for regulations more amenable to the companies.

That puts the total that Uber and Lyft have spent on this election over the $8 million mark as the campaign hits the final stretch.

The Ridesharing Works PAC has used much of that funding in its all-out advertising blitz, which features a string of web videos and television commercials along with a barrage of mailers.

The reports also reveal that the PAC’s chair, former Mayor Lee Leffingwell, has been awarded with one $25,000 check, with more to follow. Listed under the “unpaid incurred obligations” section of the report was another $25,000 for Leffingwell.

Less eye-popping, relatively speaking, are the reports filed by the two groups organized to defeat Prop 1. The Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice PAC raised more than $88,000, bringing its total contributions since it organized to just over $100,000. Unlike Ridesharing Works, whose sole contributors are California-based Uber and Lyft, Our City’s war chest was largely filled with individual donors with Austin addresses.

Austin Unites, another anti-Prop 1 PAC, reported raising $1,500, bringing its total so far to $3,120.

In a press release issued on Friday, the Our City PAC called Uber and Lyft’s spending in the election “obscene” and a sign of weakness.

“They would not be spending this much money if they were winning,” the release said. “The fact that Uber and Lyft have had to spend more than $8M so far shows that the people of Austin don’t support their corporate bullying campaign of disinformation.”

Whether Uber and Lyft have hit their spending ceiling will be revealed this week. Per city code, the campaign is now in the phase wherein PACs have to file pre-election reports detailing their finances each day until election day.

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