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Officials,organizations across party lines dissect benefits and shortcomings of initiative; consumer interest groups call measure deceptive


By Thea Skinner

August 19, 2012 (San Diego)--According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) for the State of California, Proposition 32 is an initiative that seeks to prohibit political contributions via payroll deductions and contributions to candidates.

The ballot measure proposes to change state campaign finance laws to restrict spending by public and private labor unions, corporations and government contractors in local and statewide political races. The measure has sparked fierce debate and is emerging as one of the most controversial measures on the November ballot.

The measure, finalized August 13 by a Sacramento County Superior Court Judge, prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. It applies the same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. It further prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. It also prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees."

The initiative concerns California’s Political Reform Act of 1974. As it stands, in 2012 a business, group or individual may contribute up to $26,000 to a candidate for governor and up to $3,900 to a candidate for a legislative office, according to LAO.

Also at present, unions use some funds from payroll deductions to support activities other than collective bargaining. These expenditures may include independent expenditures and political contributions, along with communicating political views to union members.

If the measure is approved, LAO estimates the combined cost is in excess of 1 million annually.

Supporters of the measure include: the main campaign - YES on 32, Stop Special Interest Money Now; the California Republican Party; former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz; Richard Riordan, a former mayor of Los Angeles; and former State Senator Gloria Romero,  director of Democrats for Education Reform California.

With ample resources, special interests are able to hold lawmakers hostage to their agenda , said Romero. She argues that Californians deserve officials who work for them, so by tackling the flow of money, Prop 32 would take a serious step in that direction.

California Republican Party chairman Tom Beccarro made clear that he expects the measure to give his party an edge in California.  "Republicans will have a new day and be rather competitive statewide,” he stated.

A yes vote means: Unions and corporations may not use money from an employee’s payroll check toward political purposes. Unions, corporations and government contractors remain subject to additional campaign finance restrictions.

A no vote means: There would be no change to existing laws regulating the ability of unions and corporations to use money deducted from an employee’s paycheck for political purposes. Unions, corporations, and government contractors would continue to be subject to existing campaign finance laws.

Those opposed to the measure include: the main campaign against the measure - No on 32, Stop the Special Exemptions Act; the California Democratic Party; Dave Low, the executive director of the California School Employees Association; and the California Labor Federation.

Non-partisan groups that advocate for policies curbing special interest influence also urge voters not to support the measure. Such groups include the California League of Women Voters, California Common Cause, Public Citizen and Public Campaign.

"Prop. 32 is not what it seems, and it will hurt everyday Californians," said Trudy Schafer of the League of Women Voters of California in a Los Angeles Times blog post.  The LWV predicts that the initiative would give rise to new Super PACS for corporations, while hobbling unions’ primary means of raising funds.

In an e-mail to East County Magazine Jess Durfee, chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party and Democratic National Committee member offered his take on the measure.

"It's their (Republican Party) latest attempt to win elections through voter suppression and campaign finance loopholes," Durfee said. "They've already put Prop. 32 on the November ballot -- a deceptive move to silence the voices of workers and starve Democratic candidates of funding. A voter ID law would do further harm by making it harder for students, the elderly, and the poor to participate in our democracy."

The California Labor Federation, representing 2.1 million of the approximately 2.5 million union workers in the state, opposes the proposition stating: “This one-sided measure would make our system even more imbalanced and it does nothing to stop the flow of money from the wealthy in politics.”

The Federation cites three facts in opposition including:

  • limiting the voice, both in private and public sectors, of union workers and creating special exemptions for corporate interests, giving well connected and the wealthy power to write their own rules;
  •  exempting secretive super political action committees and corporate front groups to raise unlimited amounts of money from corporate special interests to support their candidates or defeat their enemies; the proposition is not campaign finance reform;
  •   giving lobbyists  and corporate CEOs greater influence over our political system. Corporations outspend unions 15-1 in politics; the primary financial backers are retired CEOs and millionaires associated with the right-wing Lincoln Club of Orange County . All key funders of the proposition would personally benefit from exemptions created for organizations and companies.

The federation further states: “The measure does nothing to prevent anonymous donors from spending unlimited amounts to influence elections.”

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How could you not be for this?

Why would you not agree with 32? Who in there right mind would allow the corruption of an already rotting system. If an individual wants to donate they can donate as much or as little as they want but to take money out of someones payroll and give it to a politician or bundler? That is a stand and deliver if I have ever heard of one. Don't let anyone take your hard earned money and give it to anyone.