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Proposition 27: Billionaire Haim Saban Gets Burned by Howard Berman, Ballot Measure Loss and Republicans

Billionaire and Prop. 27 supporter Haim Saban
Billionaire and Prop. 27 supporter Haim Saban

When Proposition 27 went down in flames on Tuesday night, so did L.A. billionaire Haim Saban's reputation as a politically astute businessman.

Not only did the shady ballot measure the billionaire supported not pass, but Congressman Howard Berman, one of Saban's point men on Israeli issues in Washington D.C., won't be the chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs for long -- the Democrat will lose that assignment when the Republicans take control of the House in a few months.

Guess Saban didn't play out all of the angles when he loaned his reputation and $2 million to the effort to pass Prop. 27?

Saban got caught in the middle of a major political controversy when he backed Proposition 27, which tried to eliminate a citizens' commission that will draw the congressional and state legislature districts.

The ballot measure also attempted to re-instate an anti-democratic political practice called "gerrymandering," in which politicians, not the citizens, create crazily configured boundaries for their own districts so they have "safe seats."

The voters said 'no' to Saban, as well as Berman, who also supported Prop. 27 -- Berman apparently didn't want his district to be redrawn by the citizens' commission in a way that could possibly cause him to lose his seat in Congress.

Saban didn't want to take any chances on the citizens' commission either, and loaned the "Yes on 27" effort $2 million, apparently thinking that he could not afford to lose pro-Israel politician Howard Berman.

The billionaire seemed to get it into his head that a San Fernando Valley congressman who chairs a foreign affairs committee is indispensable for the safety of Israel.

Well, all of that scheming added up to a big fat nothing.

Berman won't be the chair of anything when the Republican take control of the House, and voters angrily and overwhelmingly shot down Prop. 27. The only thing Saban ended up with was embarrassing press about his role in this debacle.

And now he's getting some again.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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