Thomas W. Hiltachk

Partner, Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk

Tom Hiltachk is a managing partner at the law firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, which specializes in ballot measures in California. Hiltachk is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

As a lawyer specializing in elections, Tom Hiltachk is deeply involved in California politics.  He was the author of the recall ballot initiative that paved the way for Arnold Swarzenegger to replace Gray Davis as governor of California.  Hiltachk then became Swarzenegger’s personal lawyer for election matters. In California’s last gubernatorial election, Hiltachk was the attorney for Meg Whitman’s failed election bid.

Tom Hiltachk and his firm are well known for creating front groups that promote or attack ballot initiatives at the behest of Hiltachk's wealthy corporate clients.  In the past Hiltachk has attacked anti-smoking initiatives while being paid by major tobacco corporations.  He also wrote and promoted proposition 23 - which would have counteracted California’s commitment to greenhouse gas emission reductions – while working for major oil corporations. 

Currently Tom Hiltachk and his firm are fighting against a Right to Know ballot initiative that would require labeling of foods that contained genetically modified organisms (GMO). To this end Hiltachk has set up a front group called Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition (CACFLP).


The New Yorker on Tom Hiltachk’s law firm, Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk:

“They specialize in initiatives that are the opposite of what they sound like—the Fair Pay Workplace Flexibility Act of 2006, for example. It would have raised the state minimum wage slightly—by a lesser amount than it has since been raised—and, in the fine print, would have made it impossible ever to raise it again except by a two-thirds vote in both houses of the legislature, while, for good measure, eliminating overtime for millions of workers.”


As a partner at the Sacramento-based lobbying firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, Tom Hiltachk has formed a front group, the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition (CACFLP), to fight the November 2012 California ballot initiative to label genetically engineered foods.

Hiltchack was the attorney that filed Prop 23, an effort to repeal California's global warming law. The attacks on the global warming law were mainly funded by fossil fuel corporations.

A devoted Republican, Hiltachk was behind a plan to split California’s electoral votes, which would have significantly eased the Republican path to the presidency.

Tom Hiltachk has set up multiple front groups for his corporate clients.  In the 1980s and 90s, Hiltachk took over a million dollars from Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds to coordinate a variety of stealth front groups.  Hiltachk helped organize “Californians for Smokers’ Rights,” a supposedly “grassroots” group that relied on tobacco industry consumer lists to mobilize opposition to anti-smoking initiatives. Working with “academic” fronts like the Claremont Institute (also funded by tobacco), Hiltachk and his law partner Charles Bell mobilized business opposition through a front they helped manage called Californians for Fair Business Policy. Source: Thinkprogress