Large companies and national advocacy groups are putting millions of dollars in ads behind ballot measures this year, from questions about oil companies' profits in Alaska to recreational marijuana in Florida, according to an analysis of advertising data released Thursday from the Center for Public Integrity. Some $119 million in television ads had been aired through Monday to influence the 158 statewide ballot questions nationwide.
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— A California ballot initiative to require drug testing for doctors and allow more expensive malpractice lawsuits has drawn $23.1 million in advertising. Of that, a group of doctors, hospitals and insurance companies calling themselves No on 46 has spent $19.1 million to stop it. The rival Yes on 46, backed by trial lawyers, has spent $3.9 million on ads.
— Voters in Colorado will consider an amendment to expand gambling to horse tracks. Supporters, backed by Rhode Island-based Twin Rivers Casino and calling themselves Coloradans for Better Schools, have run $6.4 million in ads. Colorado casinos are helping fund $5.7 million in ads opposing the measure through a group called Don't Turn Racetracks Into Casinos. Total gambling-based ballot measures are responsible for $17.5 million in ad spending nationwide.
— Food companies such as Monsanto, the J.M. Smucker Co., Coca-Cola and Pepsi are spending $3 million opposing an Oregon ballot measure that would require vendors to label genetically modified foods. Voters see the ad spending attributed to No on 92 Coalition. Natural food companies are spending $2.1 million on ads to support the effort through a group called Vote Yes on Measure 92.
— Marijuana is on the ballot in the District of Columbia and three states, spawning $4.5 million in ads. Most of that is in Florida, where voters are considering legalizing medical use of marijuana and have seen roughly $3.4 million in ads. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has given the Drug Free Florida Committee $2.5 million to help that effort, which is expected to turn out the vote for fellow Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott. People United for Medical Marijuana has spent less than $200,000 on ads.
— Energy giants BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil each have given at least $3.6 million to a group that opposes an Alaska ballot measure that would increase taxes on oil production. That ballot initiative has drawn about $900,000 in television ads from the oil-backed Vote No on 1 group.
— The American Beverage Association, whose members include Coca-Cola and Pepsi, has pumped millions into a group opposing a Massachusetts ballot measure that would raise fees for beverage distributors and expand the state's bottle deposit to cover more types of bottles. The beverage lobby-backed group, No On Question 2, has spent about $2.5 million on TV ads, while rivals have not bought any airtime.