by David Downs
Facebook's bi-polar relationship with California's Prop 19 activists might get a little better this week. The site is both crucial to the Yes on 19 campaign, yet has rejected their ads. Now one of Facebook's own is giving Prop 19 some cold hard cash. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz - who Forbes says is worth $1.4 billion - has kicked in $50,000 to the Yes on 19 effort to decriminalize cannabis in California, according to mandatory late contribution reports.
Moskovitz attended Harvard University for two years before moving to Palo Alto, CA. to work full-time at Facebook. He's also the co-founder of San Francisco tech company Asana. Moskovitz now ranks among Prop 19's biggest individual funders, a campaign notable for its lack of big-name donors like anti-prohibition activist George Soros.
Once thought to be a million-dollar affair, Prop 19 has emerged as the low-budget action thriller of the 2010 California election. According to a Field Poll, a startling 84 percent of the electorate is aware of the measure, a figure well more than twice as high as the second best-known proposition on the ballot.
Both sides have received and spent fractions of the millions of dollars usually spent on ballot measures, yet a war of words rages daily in the press. As absentee voters begin to receive their ballots in the mail, the initiative is pulling ahead in most polls, on course to win by a small but significant margin, assuming voters show up Nov.
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Local would-be cultivator Jeff Wilcox also chipped in another $25,000 to the Yes on 19 campaign, and smaller amounts of late contributions have been coming in from Prop 19's creator Richard Lee of Oakland. Lee had told Legalization Nation that he was done spending on Prop 19, but politics, like Facebook, can prove addictive.
On the No side, several politicians and lobbyists of all stripes have contributed to the No on 19 campaign, run by professional lobbyist John Lovell out of Sacramento. Aspiring sheriffs for Burlingame and Fresno, along with a San Mateo police lobby, and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians have kicked in $91,000 to the No on 19 campaign this October. The yes campaign is on track to have out-raised the no side by a factor of 10:1 mostly through small donations and individuals, instead of lobbies.