Disney spends millions on Anaheim City Council candidates

Jordan Brandman with Giveaway 3 members Kris Murray and Harry Sidhu.

From the NY Times:

For more than a generation, Disney has been the power center of the city. The park draws millions of visitors each year and is the city’s largest property tax payer and employer.

In 2007, when a developer proposed a high-rise building with affordable housing, Disney spent more than $2 million to back a group called Save Our Anaheim Resort Area, which opposed the plan and successfully persuaded the city to abandon the idea. Since then, the group changed the verb in its name from “save” to “support” and has created a political action committee that funneled thousands of dollars to candidates, largely money collected from Disney and businesses near the resort, while Disney has continued to donate millions directly to candidates. Disney officials point out that they donate millions of dollars to local nonprofit groups every year.

“Our political action committee is focused on electing resort-district-friendly officials, not just at City Hall but also county supervisors and state senators, anyone voting on matters that would affect the district,” said Jill Kanzler, the executive director of the group.

Earlier this year, tensions flared when the City Council approved a tax incentive to a developer for a $283 million project to build two luxury hotels across from Disneyland. Typically, the city collects a 15 percent tax for every stay in the city. The incentive plan will allow the developers to keep the money from the tax for the next 15 years, an amount estimated to be $158 million.

“Throughout the city people are facing real problems with working poverty and struggling to get the resources and attention that others parts of town get routinely,” said Eric Altman, the executive director of Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, an advocacy group that has been critical of city government. “There is the basic question of why is it in a city with those kind of resources can we have such extreme poverty?”

Mr. Altman said the most recent tax deal is “essentially the city printing money” for investors in the resort area.