Nationally known, left-wing activist George Soros has joined the fight, contributing $500,000 through his Open Society Policy Center organization to the Equity Political Action Committee's "No Way on Prop A" campaign.
"We're really thankful that organizations from Austin, and across the country, have stepped up to help us educate voters about why they should vote no on Prop A," said Laura Hernandez Holmes, campaign manager for No Way on Prop A.
Prop A would require the police department to hire additional officers. Opponents said the cost would lead to severe budget cuts to other city departments.
How Soros' contribution will impact the campaign is unclear, but at least one city council member worries that kind of money could create an unfair advantage.
"Over 25,000 people signed the ballot initiative to put Prop A onto the ballot and those people’s voices are important, so fundraising is important to get the word out and I would hate for someone’s out of state money to diminish the voices of people that lived here," said Austin City Council member Mackenzie Kelly, District 6.
Soros' contribution to the No Way on Prop A campaign is the largest by a single donor, but Holmes said it's only one of many helping to fight the ballot measure.
"Well, I'm really encouraged by the 115 organizations here in Austin, who are opposing Prop A. I mean, these are organizations like the Austin Firefighters Association, the Democratic Party, environmentalists, local labor unions, criminal justice reformers, I'm really encouraged by all of those groups who have stood up to say no way on Prop A," Holmes said.
Progressive Washington D.C. organization The Fairness Project also gave a big check to Equity PAC, handing over $200,000 according to campaign filings.
"We're thankful for the donations. We are going to talk to more voters and just educate them about what this really means," said Holmes regarding how the money will be spent.
Kelly believes it's a mistake to allow political action committees to accept unlimited contributions from activists all over the country.
"Not a lot of people know this, but, in the City of Austin, when a candidate for office is running, they’re only allowed to get $400 per person. I firmly believe that there should be similar caps on donations related to citizen-led ballot initiatives," said Kelly.