Activist Alert: Defeat Prop 32
It hides behind the moniker, "Stop Special Interest Money Now," but Proposition 32 is in fact a dangerous assault on our democratic process. Placed on the ballot by the same ultra-conservative Orange County group who gave us Citizens United and drafted by lawyers for the state GOP, Prop. 32, more accurately called the Special Exemptions Act, has only one goal: silencing the voice of working people.
Allegedly, Prop.32 "gets money out of politics" by prohibiting unions and corporations from directly contributing to political campaigns and barring all payroll deductions for that purpose. That probably sounds fine to the uninformed, but there are two huge problems.
First, there is no comparison between payroll deductions of corporations and unions. Unions are organized by and for workers, and they depend on that portion of payroll deductions dedicated to the political arena in order to ensure that their voice is heard on matters that directly relate to working people. Payroll deductions are just about the only way unions can fund their political activity. On the other hand, corporations almost never rely on payroll deductions to get their point across -- they don't need to! Employee contributions are a piddling amount compared to what they can pour into campaigns from their corporate profits, not to mention what their millionaire executives may choose to contribute. Already, corporations spend 15 times what their union counterparts do on political contributions. 15 times. Remember that next time you hear someone complaining about the all-powerful unions.
The second big problem with Prop. 32 is that, while it ostensibly restricts "corporations," it is full of giant loopholes for business interests and the very wealthy. It says nothing, for example, about corporate entities such as LLCs, partnerships and investment or real estate trusts. As one columnist put it, "If you're a venture investor, land developer, or law firm, Proposition 32 doesn't lay a finger on you." Moreover, the Special Exemptions Act does absolutely nothing about spending by secretive Super PACs -- they are free to continue to raise unlimited and unaccountable funds from corporations and wealthy donors to influence our political process as they see fit.
The initiative process has been used before to try and strangle Labor's voice, in 1998 and 2005. Those efforts were beaten back both times. But that was before the power of Citizens United had been unleashed, creating a Goliath of corporate influence that has yet to test its full force on our democratic process. This may be our last chance to prevent big business and its bilionaire backers from ruling California politics forever. Vote no on Prop. 32. More importantly, educate yourself and everyone you know on the dangers of this dishonest and cynical attempt to hijack our democracy, and help stop it in its tracks.