In California there is a dangerous, deceptive proposition on the ballot that promises to get “special interest” money out of our elections, and is being sold as a way to stop the flood of corporate money. But actually this proposition doesn’t stop corporate money at all — it only stops political activity by unions. If it passes this means that from now on only corporate money will fund California’s elections.
Here is how Prop 32 is being sold to the public: “Politicians take millions in campaign contributions from corporations and government unions and then vote the way those special interests tell them.”
Here is the trick: it bans use of money collected from the paychecks of union members. This pretty much means all union money is banned. But corporations do not use paycheck deductions to get the money they use! Only unions do! Then Prop 32 specifies that corporations can’t put money into elections, so here are the types of businesses that are exempted:
- Business Super PACs set up by corporations to put money into elections
- Independent expenditure committees set up by corporations to put money into elections
- Companies that are not “corporations” including Limited Liability companies
- Real estate trusts
- Other businesses not specifically designated as “corporations” under the law’s definition.
And, to make matters even worse, Prop 32 prohibits “government contractors” from political activity. But it is worded to prohibit any government employee unions from political activity, because these unions have employment contracts with state or local governments.
While it very loosely defines corporations in a way that keeps business interests open to funding campaigns, here is how it defines unions:
“Labor union”” means any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work.
ANY organization that represents the interests of working people is banned from politics if this law passes. Think about that.
Guess Who Is Funding Prop 32
Guess who is funding this proposition? (Hint, as if you needed one: it’s the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove’s corporate front group, big corporations, and others.)
AFL-CIO: Kochs Send Millions to Silence California Workers with Prop. 32
AFL-CIO: California’s Prop. 32: How Does It Affect Union Members?
California Labor Federation page with information about Prop 32.
Stop the Special Exemptions Act
Rick Jacobs: Mitt + Koch = Prop 32 Ways to Buy CA,
The Kochs and Rove understand that if they can keep union money out of politics, they win hands down. If Prop32 passes in California, one-third of SEIUs political budget is gone, with sizeable chunks taken from the AFL-CIO and just about any other big national union you can think of.
Full text of Prop 32 here. Also at Ballotpedia.
This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
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