Business leaders behind the MovEBR roads tax campaign have raised $370,000 in contributions from more than 60 donors representing an array of businesses and industries in the Baton Rouge area.
That’s according to the first campaign finance report filed today by Move EBR Inc. political action committee, spearheaded by businessmen Mike Wampold and Jim Bernhard who have vowed to fund and support informational outreach efforts for the roads tax initiative.
The PAC has raised $369,850 in contributions and spent $95,061 for the informational campaign, according to the report, submitted 30 days prior to the Dec. 8 election.
The donors include high-profile names in the Baton Rouge business community, such as Charles W. Lamar, Excel Group CEO David Roberts, attorney and businessman Cordell Haymon, and Shirley W. Leblanc, wife of the late Price Leblanc.
Also donating were LUBA Workers’ Comp and General Health, though that money came from the Baton Rouge Health District, according to Suzy Sonnier, the health district’s executive director.
Two of the largest donations—each $50,000—are from Roberts and the Baton Rouge Health District, while Bernhard and Wampold each donated $37,500.
Most of the other donors are local construction, engineering and consulting firms, which could stand to benefit from major infrastructure tax packages like MovEBR.
“Beyond investments from Wampold and Bernhard, who will not directly benefit from the tax, there are, of course, people who will benefit, as a normal course of business,” says political consultant Michael Beychok, who is working on the campaign. “But I will say we’ve got a lot of investments from others who will not benefit directly.”
General expenditures included in the PAC’s finance report were for polling, fundraising consulting and video production, among other things.
The MovEBR roads tax proposal, which will go before voters on Dec. 8, is a 30-year, half-cent sales tax that would raise nearly $1 billion for major road and infrastructure improvements throughout the city-parish.
Although previous roads tax pitches have failed, MovEBR earned the overwhelming support of the Metro Council and has impressive support from the business community that was not seen in past attempts.
“It really is unprecedented,” Beychok says. “We have buy-in from business community folks who have no direct benefit from this but see the need and know the money will be spent where it’s supposed to be spent.”
Read more about MovEBR in Business Report’s latest cover story.