The political finance campaign backing Uber and Lyft on Proposition 1 has raised an estimated $8.1 million so far from the ride-hailing companies and donations, dwarfing the $88,000 raised by opponents.
Ridesharing Works for Austin — a political action committee backed and partially funded by Uber and Lyft — raised $4.9 million from the two ride-hailing companies from March 29 through April 27, according to campaign finance filings released Friday. The PAC raised money to urge Austinites to vote in favor of Prop. 1, which would remove the City’s fingerprint background check requirement. A vote against the proposition would reject the proposal from Uber and Lyft, keeping the City’s fingerprint background checks in place.
The amount raised by Ridesharing Works broke the previous record for local campaign spending of $1.2 million, which was raised by current Mayor Steve Adler during his 2014 campaign.
The group also raised another $1 million donation from Uber last Thursday, on top of the $2.2 million it raised during the previous filing period.
The funding will allow the campaign group to purchase expensive television ads while also padding its field operations as it heads into the final week of campaigning, according to Huey Rey Fischer, Ridesharing Works deputy outreach director.
“It’s important that we spend the resources necessary to combat the incredibly misleading ballot language that was drafted by [City] Council,” Fischer said. “We’re determined to help voters understand exactly what they’re voting for, what’s on the ballot and what’s at stake.”
Ridesharing Works paid Fischer $12,000 in consulting fees, according to the last campaign finance filing.
Laura Morrison, a spokeswoman for the campaign opposing Prop. 1, called Ridesharing Works’ expenses “outrageous,” arguing voters should be concerned with the dangerous precedent the campaign spending would set for local campaigns.
“The question that needs to be raised is: What happens when you have $8 million filling the airways and the mailboxes full of misinformation and worse?” Morrison said.
Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice — the anti-Prop. 1 group — raised significantly less than its counterpart, with $51,795 from 381 individual contributors and $29,000 from larger organizations, such as labor unions.
Fischer, a UT-Austin alumnus, helped author AR 3 with four other Student Government members. Representatives with Student Government passed the resolution supporting Prop. 1 last week in an effort to boost turnout — and support of the measure — among college students during the early voting period.
Marketing sophomore Chase Bennett, who represents the McCombs School of Business in SG, was a co-author of AR 3. He said he voted in favor of the resolution because both Uber and Lyft provide a valuable service to students who may call for a ride after studying late at night on campus.
“I don’t want a resource my friends use to keep them safe to be taken away,” Bennett said. “The threat that Uber and Lyft could even leave is enough to scare me and enough to make me support Prop. 1.”
Voters can still head to the polls today during the last opportunity for early voting until election day this Saturday.