Rich Californians Targeted With New Tax on Ballot, Bankrolled by Sam Bankman-Fried

Rich Californians Targeted With New Tax on Ballot, Bankrolled by Sam Bankman-Fried

The Golden Gate Bridge is seen through a rain covered windshield in San Francisco on Jan. 4, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Mary Lou Lang

Mary Lou Lang

4/15/2024

Updated: 4/15/2024

Rich Californians may need to pony up more in taxes if voters approve a ballot measure in November—bankrolled by convicted cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried—if the initiative is not withdrawn by the end of June.
“Initiative #1916 ‘Provides Funding for Pandemic Detection and Prevention by Increasing Tax on Personal Income Over $5 Million. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute’ is eligible to be qualified for the ballot. It will qualify for the ballot on June 27 unless the proponents withdraw it,” a California Secretary of State (SOS) spokesperson told The Epoch Times via email. “They can withdraw it in writing to our office on or before 5:00 p.m. on June 27,” the spokesperson said.
The ballot initiative would increase the income tax by 0.75 percent for 10 years for individuals with incomes over $5 million.
Records show that Guarding Against Pandemics (GAP) was behind the initiative and was funded by Alameda Research, founded by Mr. Bankman-Fried. He hired his brother, Gabe Bankman-Friend to run GAP. In news releases published on the organization’s website, Gabe was quoted as a spokesperson for the group.
Californians Against Pandemics, whose supporters include GAP, also backed the initiative.
The proponents listed on the initiative on SOS records and Californians Against Pandemics are Anna Maybach aka Anna Maybach Sullivan and Max Henderson. Ms. Maybach is a grant associate for Open Philanthropy and was a deputy campaign manager for Californians Against Pandemics. Mr. Henderson was an ex-Google employee and a startup investor and the founder of COVID-Act Now. Ms. Maybach also worked as a project manager at COVID-Act Now.
Neither Ms. Maybach nor Mr. Henderson responded to requests for comment.
Their attorney, George Yin of the Kaufman Legal Group, told The Epoch Times he would find an appropriate party to provide comments on whether the initiative would be withdrawn. He said he had no knowledge if it would be as he was only in charge of the procedural process.
As of press time, the initiative still was not withdrawn.
The state is expected to see a windfall in new revenues if the initiative does go before voters and they approve it. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office anticipates that the income tax hike would increase state tax revenues from around $500 million to $1.5 billion annually for the ten-year period the new tax would be in effect.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in California, told The Epoch Times, “I think that deal’s dead on arrival, and the reason is that the proponent Sam Bankman-Fried would withdraw it, or people who are advising him would tell him to pull it off the ballot as he’s already embarrassed enough.”
“If it is not withdrawn, it will certainly fail. All someone would have to do is a campaign with his picture all over it,” Mr. Coupal said, adding he doesn’t know a single interest group that would back the initiative.
“It may be the right message, but not the right messenger,” Mr. Coupal said. “One, it has his stink all over it, and two, it’s a bond,” Mr. Coupal said, explaining that Californians are very suspicious of bonds after an audit found a bond for homelessness failed to tackle the issue.
He referred to a recent audit that examined funds slated to help the homeless in the state, which found, “lack of coordination among the State’s homelessness programs had hampered the effectiveness of the State’s efforts to end homelessness.”
“People look at that and realize their taxes are being wasted,” Mr. Coupal said. He said until contacted by The Epoch Times, he thinks “a lot of people forgot about the ballot initiative.”
The Epoch Times reported on the audit referred to by Mr. Coupal, which found the state spent more than $24 billion over the past five years to combat homelessness yet no one knows how much of it was spent on programs or if they were effective.
If Californians vote yea on Initiative #1916 in the November election, it would put the onerous on the wealthiest in California to fund the potential early detection and prevention of future pandemics.
The text of the initiative reads: “while many Californians suffered economically due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the wealthiest Californians prospered during the same period. This initiative, therefore, will ask only the wealthiest Californians to pay slightly more in taxes—only on their income over $5 million per year for a limited number of years—to help avert the suffering caused to all Californians by future pandemics.”
The tax revenues raised if the initiative passes will be allotted as follows: 50 percent to a newly established California Institute for Pandemic Prevention; 25 percent to public health programs for pandemic preparedness; and 25 percent to school facility improvements to limit disease transmission.
An Independent Scientific Governing Board to administer the institute would be created, and board members would be required to have specified medical, technological, or public health expertise.
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Mary Lou Lang

Mary Lou Lang

Author

Mary Lou Lang is a freelance journalist and was a frequent contributor to Just The News, the Washington Free Beacon, and the Daily Caller. She also wrote for several local newspapers. Prior to freelancing, she worked in several editorial positions in finance, insurance and economic development magazines.

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