Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft have spent nearly $2.2 million so far this year to fund a campaign to collect petition signatures to get an initiative on the ballot in Austin and advocate for that measure.
The ballot measure would institute a set of regulations, written by Uber and Lyft, that largely mirror rules passed by a previous Austin City Council, which include requiring name-based background checks. It would roll back new regulations passed in December by the current council, which require fingerprint-based background checks for the companies' drivers, among other things. Those rules are essentially on hold, pending the outcome of the May 7 election.
The political action committee advocating for passage of the ballot measure, Ridesharing Works for Austin, was among the groups that filed required campaign finance paperwork with the Austin City Clerk Thursday. The PAC's filing showed the companies at the center of the measure pouring large amounts of money in the campaign.
The filing documents $788,750 in cash contributions to the PAC from Lyft, Inc. and Uber Technologies, Inc. between January 1 and March 28 of this year.
In addition, the two companies provided $1,378,790 of in-kind support for the PAC, including staff salaries, consultant fees, digital advertising, transportation, lodging, printing, food and drinks.
Uber and Lyft were the PAC's sole donors.
The majority of the cash donations, about $650,000, has been spent on services from a Washington, D.C.-based company called Block by Block on a "field program and get out the vote effort," according to the PAC's filing.
The PAC's last filing on January 15 covered the last three days of 2015 and showed nearly $30,000 in pledges and in-kind donations from Uber and Lyft.
The filings paint a picture of an opposition woefully outgunned.
The main group organized to oppose the ballot measure, Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice PAC, filed paperwork showing $12,458.95 in contributions between February 26, when the PAC was created, and March 28.
Most of their expenses included advertising and website design.
Below you can view Ridesharing Works for Austin's campaign finance filing in full.