Nice little ballot measure you’ve got there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it.

According to, tobacco industry lobbyists are threatening a referendum on the 21+ smoking bill.


But there’s something else in the article which gives me pause.

> In a March 2 email to a legislative staffer, lobbyist George Miller, IV wrote,“When we hit the street with a referendum paying $10 per signature, Prop. 30 is dead as well as $2 a pack tax. We will have every signature gatherer on an exclusive. Just letting you know so you can’t say you weren’t warned.”

This requires some explanation, I think.

In California, signatures for ballot propositions are usually gathered by professional signature-gatherers: people who are in it for money, not for the love of the cause. They typically circulate multiple petitions at the same time (I was once asked by the same signature gatherer to either recall, or not-recall, the Governor; he was getting paid for both petitions).

The lobbyist named “IV” in the article is saying that if it goes to a referendum drive, the tobacco companies will hire signature gatherers on an exclusive basis – prohibiting them from circulating anything *other* than the tobacco referendum, and paying them substantially more than normal to compensate.

This may make sense as a matter of tactics, as a way to ensure the referendum gets on the ballot: by focusing the gatherers on *one* initiative you align their incentives with yours and make them much more concerned about getting signatures for you.

But couched in this way, it’s a threat. “If you sign this bill we don’t like, we’ll do what we can to make it impossible to do these other things you want to do.”

It’s probably politics as normal.

Yet it’s disgusting and does nothing to endear me to the tobacco industry, or to politics as normal.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s