Three of the nation’s richest men have poured more than $2 million into the intensifying fight over a ballot measure to scale back California’s tough three-strikes sentencing law, reports the Los Angeles Times. The money – $1.5 million to fight Proposition 66 from Orange County billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III and $350,000 each from out-of-state billionaires George Soros and John G. Sperling to support it – comes amid a flurry of activity by opponents hoping to reverse recent polls that show the measure far ahead among likely voters. Most recent contributions will go into television ads. The contributions by Soros and Sperling, who have each given $500,000 to the cause, were made to help counter ads featuring Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that began running yesterday.
Nicholas, founder of Broadcom Corp. whose worth is estimated at more than $2 billion, said he is willing to “give as much as necessary to defeat Proposition 66.” His sister was killed by her boyfriend in 1984. That man is now serving 17 years to life. The last-minute donations came as supporters of changing the three-strikes law asked TV stations to pull the governor’s anti-Proposition 66 ads, accusing him of lying to voters. In two ads, Schwarzenegger says that if the measure passes, “26,000 dangerous criminals will be released from prison.” Backers of the measure also began a statewide television ad this week. It features Joe Klaas, whose granddaughter Polly Klaas’ kidnapping and slaying helped spur passage of the original law. Klaas appeals to voters to fix what he calls “a flaw in the law.”