As we’re all aware, Virginia is basically the “Wild West” when it comes to campaign finance, with pretty much any individual or corporation allowed to give unlimited amounts of $$$ to candidates and/or causes. Which, of course, is totally absurd and shouldn’t be the case. But sad to say, that’s where we’re at. Anyway, with that in mind, VPAP today listed a massive, $250,000 donation from a group called “Action Now Initiative LLC” to “OneVirginia 2021,” which is heavily pushing the fatally flawed redistricting amendment on the ballot this fall.
Now, maybe this is just pure coincidence, but note that the other day, a new group called “Fair Districts PAC” was formed to *oppose* the amendment. And now, coincidentally or not, “Action Now Initiative LLC” gives $250k to OneVirginia 2021. Interesting, eh?
So what on earth is “Action Now Initiative LLC,” anyway? According to Ballotpedia, it’s “a 501(c)(4) organization based in Houston, Texas,” founded by hedge fund billionaires John and Laura Arnold. Ballotpedia adds that John Arnold “began the firm in 2002, after his former employer, Enron, went bankrupt,” then “retired in 2012 at the age of 38” after having “founded Action Now Initiative in 2011.”
Ballotpedia lists the initiatives the Arnolds have supported in the past, including a soda tax in San Francisco, ranked choice voting in Maine, a carbon emissions fee in Washington state, and campaign finance and redistricting reform efforts in Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah. Which all seems fine…or at least nothing obviously bad jumps out. The big question is, why would the Arnolds support the Virginia redistricting amendment, as it is currently constituted – as opposed to what it *might* have been? Do they not understand how screwed-up the amendment is at this point? Did the OneVirginia 2021 folks bamboozle…er, convince them that this amendment constitutes real reform, which it clearly doesn’t (for the reasons listed here)? Other options?
Anyway, it’s fascinating that the Arnolds are pouring money into the effort to pass this amendment, even as supporters frequently claim that it will win easily. If so, then why give $250k with a few weeks until early voting starts? Are they worried, or is something else going on? Thoughts?