Farallon’s Steyer Helped Stymie Calif. Election Proposal

Oct 5 2007 | 12:07pm ET

Revelations that a proposal to change how California distributes its electoral votes was funded by a New York hedge fund manager helped sink the effort. But Elliott Associates’ Paul Singer, also a top fundraiser for Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, wasn’t the only hedgie with skin in this game.

Singer donated all $170,000 raised by Californians for Equal Representation, which was seeking to get the measure on November’s ballot. Meanwhile, the effort to sink it was bankrolled by Thomas Steyer, the founder of San Francisco-based Farallon Capital Management and a major fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Steyer and Chris Lehane, special assistant counsel to Pres. Bill Clinton, founded Californians for Fair Electoral Reform to oppose the proposal, and Steyer put up most of the $200,000 the group spent on its effort, including for television advertisements.

Under the ballot proposal, the lion’s share of California’s 55 electoral votes would be awarded by congressional district, rather than en masse, as is the case in nearly every other state. That would presumably help the Republican candidate, for though Democrats have won California in the last four presidential elections, 19 of the state’s 53 members of Congress represent the G.O.P.

Although Californians for Equal Representation has effectively collapsed, Golden State Republicans are trying to revive the measure. But time is against them: Californians for Equal Representation estimated it would need as much as $2 million to gather the more than 400,000 signatures to get the proposal on the ballot. Those signatures are due by Nov. 29.

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