Supporters of next month’s ballot measure to boost the sales tax in Los Angeles County to pay for more police officers and sheriff’s deputies have raised almost $2 million, much of it from interest groups and businesses with a stake in the outcome, reports the Los Angeles Times. Major donors include the union that represents Los Angeles Police Department officers, billionaire businessmen, companies that earn millions of dollars a year doing business with the Sheriff’s Department, and card clubs that could add slot machines under another ballot measure that Sheriff Lee Baca is pushing. Baca said he solicited some of the largest contributions, including those from a phone company that is seeking a new contract from his department and a developer seeking a city tax break.
More than a quarter of the money raised for the Measure A campaign came in a single $500,000 contribution last week from the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents LAPD officers. “We would not be serving the interests of our police officers if we didn’t support this with everything we have,” said Bob Baker, union president. The LAPD and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department would be the largest beneficiaries if two-thirds of the county’s voters agree to increase the sales tax from 8.25 to 8.75 percent. Other police agencies across the county would also share in the proceeds. A dramatic TV ad featuring a simulated home break-in aired yesterday with the message “more cops, safer streets.” The media campaign, which costs half a million dollars just this week, is expected to continue until the election.