Out-of-State Donors Max Out for Minimum Wage

While the success of minimum wage ballot measures this election cycle might suggest a renaissance in state grassroots passion, a closer look at the financing of the associated ballot committees reveals an out-of-state funding apparatus.

Arizona, Maine, and Colorado saw an ocean-sized inflow of out-of-state cash to fund their pro-hike committees through the election. Given those vast sums, it’s safe to say that much of the sweep was due to donors who have no connection to or understanding of the local economies in these states.

Arizonans for Fair Wages and Healthy Families lead the successful fight for $12 per hour by 2020 in Arizona. The Arizonans committee raised nearly $4.2 million, at least $2 million of which came from out-of-state sources. Among contributions from within the state, Living United for Change in Arizona, Inc. (LUCHA) has provided 43 percent of the PAC’s funding–nearly two million dollars. LUCHA, a spinoff of the disgraced and now-defunct ACORN, has risen to prominence this cycle with a large war chest and a lack of disclosure (think: dark money) on who’s providing such large sums to a small Arizona advocacy group.


On the other side of the country, Mainers for Fair Wages pushed for $12 by 2020 in Maine, and can thank out-of-state donors for at least 65 percent of its funding. (This figure could be much higher when transfers from the organization’s associated ballot question committee are factored in.) The last disclosure before Election Day indicates that the Mainers PAC raised $971,000, of which $631,000 came from out-of-state sources.


The big winner of the least-aptly named PAC contest, however, goes to Colorado Families for Fair Wages, which received 93 percent of its funding from sources outside of Colorado.  Of the nearly $5 million raised by the committee, $4.5 million came from out-of-state sources.


These east- and west-coast based advocacy organizations might have the well-being of their donors or certain political candidates in mind, but they surely don’t care about the state’s small businesses. The disclosures don’t lie: There’s big money to be had in minimum wage astroturfing.

Source: State campaign finance data.