“Democrats accuse tech companies of deceitful tactics in campaign against Calif. ballot measure”

The Hill:

Democrats are accusing app-based gig companies including Uber and Lyft of playing dirty in their multimillion-dollar ad campaign supporting a California ballot measure that would allow their drivers to continue to be treated as independent contractors rather than employees. 

California state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D) said Monday that the campaign backing Proposition 22 includes tactics that are “dirtier than I’ve ever seen before,” such buying up “fake groups” that have no actual members and misleading names meant to tie them to progressives such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

“This is historic spending by any side on an initiative, and not historic by California standards; it’s historic nationally,” Gonzalez said during a press conference. “When you think about how much these companies put into the initiative process to simply write their own rules, this is a new path that has been chosen by these Silicon Valley billionaire corporations, and it should alarm all of us.”

Sanders on Monday tweeted his personal opposition to Proposition 22, denouncing as dishonest a mailer that backed it under the title “Feel the Bern, Progressive Voter Guide.”…

The mailers, which also back the Democratic presidential ticket, have been showing up in Southern California mailboxes. But the groups named in them, such as “Our Voice, Latino Voter Guide” and the “Council of Concerned Women Voters Guide,” do not exist, SFGate reported.

Yes on 22, a PAC supported by Uber and Lyft as well as delivery-based apps DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on mailers in expenditures on Aug. 28, according to the California secretary of state’s Cal-Access database. The expenditures included $20,000 for a “progressive slate,” $60,000 for a “California voter guide” and $48,750 for a “California Latino voter guide.” 

Spokespeople for Uber and Lyft were not immediately available for comment when asked about the mailers or to respond to Sanders’s call to “denounce the deception.” 

In total, more than $186 million has been contributed to the campaign in support of Proposition 22, according to California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, reportedly making it the costliest ballot measure campaign in the nation’s history and far outstripping the opposition’s spending. 

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