Citizens for Retirement Security (CRS), the coalition opposing the Ventura County Taxpayers Association ballot measure to eliminate retirement benefits for the county’s public employees, today called on its opponents to return $150,000 the group has received from a Houston, Texas political committee headed by former Enron executive John Arnold.
CRS spokesman Rick Shimmel, said:
“Ventura County’s citizens should not be subject to a fear-mongering campaign to eliminate retirement security for our county’s hard-working firefighters, police officers, and other public employees that is being bankrolled by a Texas billionaire with an extremist agenda he’s pushing across the nation.
“Our opponents should return his money and those of other out-of-state special interests trying to affect the quality of life and services in our community.”
According to a campaign filing made public yesterday, the Texas billionaire’s political committee, the Action Now Initiative, added another $75,000 in contributions to the “Committee for Pension Fairness” on April 8th, 2014. That contribution matches the same amount made earlier this year by the group.
Arnold has fast become the leading funder of efforts to eliminate retirement security in the United States. He has contributed to anti-pension efforts in several states, and recently was embroiled in controversy when the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) returned a $3.5 million donation from Arnold after critics charged he was attempting to influence their reporting on retirement issues.
Shimmel noted that the Committee for Pension Fairness also has links to other right-wing causes, including Americans for Prosperity, a Koch Brothers-funded group, and the Reason Foundation, which also receives substantial funding from the Kochs. Ventura Supervisor Peter Foy is chairman of Americans for Prosperity’s California chapter; the Reason Foundation created a study, disputed by opponents, which painted a negative picture of the county’s retirement system, which is among the healthiest in the nation.
“It’s ironic that this so-called ‘taxpayers group’ is receiving the bulk of its funding from special interests outside of our county and state — those who won’t be affected at all by this measure.
“These donations are more proof that this isn’t a grassroots effort from Ventura County as they claim but rather a national agenda being advanced by ultra-conservative special interests and billionaires.”
This piece orignially appeared in the California Majority Report.