Proponents of Measure M, the half-cent transportation sales tax defeated last November, raised a record-breaking $2,587,260 in their unsuccessful campaign, finance reports showed Monday.
Citizens for Yes on M surpassed the previous record of $2,522,527 set by Citizens for Traffic Solutions, the group that successfully opposed a June, 1988, slow-growth and traffic initiative.
Virtually the same major donors--builders, developers, real estate firms and construction companies--funded both efforts.
Although final campaign finance reports were not immediately available for all of the committees that successfully opposed Measure M last November, their receipts and expenditures were not expected to exceed a combined total of $30,000.
Measure M, which may be placed before voters again this fall, would have raised an estimated $3.1 billion for new freeway lanes, car-pool lanes, so-called super streets, local street repairs, and several commuter rail and high-tech transit projects.
Political experts attributed its defeat to a low voter turnout (22%) in which primarily older, more conservative county residents went to the polls.
Critics of Measure M, however, said that some voters were probably offended by the huge amount of money being spent on the campaign.
"It's obscene," said Jerry Yudelson, who campaigned against Measure M. "It was a political consultants' full employment act." But former county supervisor Bruce Nestande, who headed the pro-M campaign said: "It's nice to be part of a record-breaking operation. We knew that it was going to be a very expensive campaign going in."
The Measure M finance report showed that Nestande's committee spent $2,403,902, which is below the $2,525,506 in expenditures reported a year ago in the effort against the slow-growth initiative.
The biggest cash contributions were $146,932 from the Irvine Co., $104,099 from Rancho Santa Margarita, $61,599 from the Koll Co. and $50,000 from the Lincoln Club of Orange County, an influential Republican volunteer organization.