SACRAMENTO, CA - Government groups are joining forces with powerful public employee unions to oppose Proposition 32, which aims to curtail big money influence at the state Capitol.
The alliance calls the November ballot measure deceptive and does little to stop unlimited spending by independent groups called Super PACs.
"Proposition 32 is not at all what it seems," League of Women Voters spokesperson Trudy Schafer said. "It promises political reform, but it's really designed by its special interests to help themselves and harm their opponents."
This is the third attempt by Orange County Republicans to go after the influence of labor groups, but this time, they've broadened the restrictions to include corporate money.
Prop. 32 bans both corporations and labor unions from:
- using payroll deductions for political purposes
- contributing to state and local candidates
- prohibits government contractors from donating to officials who award contracts
The newly formed alliance, though, points out a loophole that allows what's called LLC's, or limited liability companies, and trusts to donate because they're technically not corporations.
But Prop 32 supporters said their measure will change the way business is done in Sacramento.
The independent Fair Political Practices Commission found more than $1 billion have been spent by special interests to influence decisions over the last decade.
The California Teachers Association was at the top, doling out $211 million. But the pharmaceutical industry, utilities and gas companies are also listed in the Top 15.
"Each of these reforms applies to unions," Proposition 32 supporter Jake Suski said. "It applies to corporations and it makes no exceptions."
Pressed further, though, Suski acknowledged some LLCs might fall outside the definition of a corporation.
"Whether an LLC is or isn't a corporation is up to the courts to decide, but Prop. 32 defines it very clearly as any corporation under state or federal law," Suski said.
This could be an expensive fight. Labor unions have already ponied up more than $8 million to fight the measure. Business interests have raised half that so far.
By Nannette Miranda