A group of anonymous donors provided $140k to get an initiative on the ballot to audit city government. That money funded a petition drive that succeeded in putting the question to voters, albeit not in the words that initiative supporters had hoped for.
However, the campaign to get voters to approve the initiative didn’t benefit from nearly as much financial support. That’s likely because that campaign, either for legal or political reasons, did not offer its donors anonymity. It looks like Vote Yes on Prop K raised about $50k as of Oct. 29 ($23k on Oct 10. and $26k in last pre-election report) and then raised another $20k or so in the last week of the campaign, mostly via $9,800 from the Travis County GOP and a few other individual donors who wrote four-figure checks. Michael Searle, who was running the campaign, even dipped into his own pocket to contribute $1,500. So a total of around $70k. Not bad, but hardly enough to run a robust TV/radio/digital campaign.
Meanwhile, the opposition campaign, Citizens for Truthful Petitions, raised about $37k by Oct. 29. $10k of that came from Austinites for Equity, a progressive group that is largely funded by AFSCME Local 1624, the city/county employees union. Another $5k came from developer Perry Lorenz, a prolific giver to progressive causes. The Travis County Dems chipped in $1.3k and lobbyist Mark Littlefield gave just over $1,000.
In the end, the campaign for Prop K outspent the opposition 2-to-1.