The two Anaheim City Council members who were first to announce they would support a deal protecting Disneyland from a ticket tax for up to 45 years have also benefitted the most from the mega-resort’s campaign spending.
Disneyland funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to PACs supporting the candidacies of council members Jordan Brandman and Kris Murray and attacking their opponents. Brandman ran and was elected in 2012. Murray was reelected last year.
Almost immediately after news broke that Disney had requested the decades-long tax protection, Brandman and Murray told the Orange County Register they would be supporting the deal. Councilwoman Lucille Kring was initially on the fence, but soon said she would also vote for it.
Disneyland representatives say they need the guaranteed tax protection in exchange for guaranteeing an investment in its theme park worth as much as $1.5 billion. However, theme park experts say Disney would almost certainly make the investment regardless of the deal.
As Voice of OC reported during the 2012 election cycle, Disneyland’s contributions to the PACs topped $300,000 near the end of the campaign season. Those PACs then spent a majority of that money supporting Brandman.
Then last year, Disneyland broke its own campaign spending record when it poured at least $670,000 into PACs that financed mailers supporting Murray and Gail Eastman, who failed to win a council seat, while opposing Jose Moreno and Councilman James Vanderbilt.
Moreno openly supports Mayor Tom Tait, the only council member openly against the deal, while Vanderbilt is also considered a Tait ally.
Disney also contributed $1,900 last election cycle to Tait’s campaign. But the resort’s spending for council members who say they support the tax shield for Disney dwarfed its contribution to Tait by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Register, which tallied a more recent calculation, reported today that Disney’s contributions to the PACs supporting Murray and Eastman last election cycle totaled $776,000.
Moreno — who is president of the Latino group Los Amigos of Orange County and considered by many the most high-profile entertainment tax supporter – indicated that council members’ support of the deal is payback to their most generous campaign supporter.
“The dots are beginning to connect, and the picture is becoming clearer about why Disney invested so much money in city council campaigns,” Moreno said.
Murray and Brandman haven’t returned multiple calls from Voice of OC for comment on the deal.