The police union has outspent backers of Proposition A 20 to 1 thus far in its effort to defeat the charter amendment, according to the first round of campaign finance reports, which were due Thursday.
Early voting for the municipal election begins April 24; election day is May 6.
The San Antonio Police Association’s Protect SA PAC raised and spent $878,754 between Jan. 1 and March 27, according to its campaign finance report recently filed with the city. Just over 98% of its contributions, $866,225, came from the union itself.
Protect SA PAC is one of three raising money to defeat Prop A, which will ask San Antonio voters if the city should change its charter to decriminalize marijuana and abortion, further restrict police officers’ use of no-knock warrants, ban chokeholds, expand the city’s cite-and-release policy for some low-level, nonviolent crimes and establish a justice director position within the city’s administration.
“I’m happy to see that the business community is waking up to it and we’ve certainly enjoyed the help that we’re getting,” Jason Sanchez, treasurer of the police union and Protect SA, said of the other PACs.
After the union narrowly defeated Proposition B in 2021, which would have removed the union’s ability to collectively bargain for its labor contract with the city, the San Antonio Police Officers Association set up a restricted fund within its budget to save money for future referendum fights, Sanchez said.
“Members of the association, almost 100% of them, put in $900 each into the account and we’ve held that money in abeyance until a referendum came along that would jeopardize the working conditions or employment [of members] or harm the community,” Sanchez said. That money is now backing the union’s PAC.
He declined to say how much money, was left in that fund, “but I will say that there’s more to come.”
ACT 4 SA, the nonprofit police reform group which led the effort to place Prop A on the ballot, spent $43,591 for rent and campaign materials via in-kind expenditures through its action fund during that time period. The SA Justice Charter PAC raised $50,000 —entirely through a single contribution from the Texas Organizing Project’s Education Fund. That PAC had not spent anything as of March 27.
“There’s a lot of [campaign finance] activity that’s happened after the 27th,” said Ananda Tomas, ACT 4 SA founder and executive director — but not anything close to what the police union has spent, she acknowledged. “We’re never gonna get up to that. … It was pretty disappointing to see what they had spent, but also a good reminder who we’re up against.”
The union’s report shows it wrote the largest checks, $720,225 in total, to The PM Group, a local marketing and advertising company for campaign management, newspaper, direct mail and broadcast media buys.
San Antonio SAFE PAC, allied with chambers of commerce and business leaders, reported nothing raised or spent in its filing, as its first fundraising event took place Tuesday, several days after the reporting period.
“There is money in the bank now, said Kelton Morgan, SAFE PAC’s political consultant. Morgan declined to share the group’s fundraising goals, but said “we’re confident of fully funding our budget and being successful.”
The campaign finance report for the third PAC, Better SA, hadn’t shown up in the city’s system as of 5 p.m. Thursday.
Trucking tycoon Adam Blanchard, who ran unsuccessfully for a Texas House seat last year, and two past presidents of the Real Estate Council of San Antonio, formed Better SA to help City Council candidates who support economic development. Defeating Prop A is part of that effort, organizers have said, but the PAC will continue its work beyond the general election this year.
Blanchard, who also serves as treasurer for the SAFE PAC, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday afternoon.
The next deadline for candidates and local PACs to file campaign finance reports is April 28, eight days before the election. Those reports will reflect campaign activity from March 28 through April 26
“That will be a juicer [report], for sure,” Morgan said.