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Anti-death penalty drive has $5.4 million

Sept. 17, 2012 at 4:22 PM   |   Comments

SACRAMENTO, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- More than $5.4 million, mostly from wealthy donors, has been collected to support a ballot measure to abolish California's death penalty, a research group said.

Proposition 34, whose approval in November would replace the death penalty in the state with life in prison without the possibility of parole, has attracted large donations from Silicon Valley and Hollywood celebrities, including Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, actor Edward Asner and musician Jackson Browne, the San Jose, Calif., Mercury News reported Monday.

The top donors include Hyatt Hotels CEO Nicholas Pritzker and the philanthropy The Atlantic Advocacy Fund. Each has given $1 million, the Bay Area News Group said.

A pro-death-penalty coalition of law enforcement and victims' rights groups has raised $280,000 to support its cause, the newspaper said.

"We know we are going to be out-raised because we don't have Hollywood celebrities and liberal do-gooders on our side. Ours will be an old-fashioned, word-of-mouth, grass-roots" effort, said former U.S. attorney McGregor Scott, who heads the campaign against the measure.

Californians have historically favored the death penalty, but support has diminished in recent years, the newspaper said.

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