Good government groups are joining forces with powerful public employee unions to oppose Prop 32 which aims to curtail big money influence at the state capitol. The alliance calls the November ballot measure deceptive and says it does little to stop unlimited spending by independent groups called Super PACs. "Prop 32 is not at all what it seems. It promises political reform, but it's really designed by its special interest backers to help themselves and harm their opponents," says Trudy Schafer with the League of Women Voters.
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, and it also prohibits government contractors from donating to officials who award contracts. The newly-formed alliance, though, points out a loophole that allows what's called LLCs, Limited Liability Companies, and trusts to donate because they're technically not corporations.
But Prop 32 supporters say 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. "Each one of these reforms applies to unions. It applies to corporations and it makes no execeptions," says Jake Suski with Yes on Proposition 32 Pressed further, though, Suski acknowledges that some LLCs might fall outside the definition of a corporation. "Whether an LLC is or isn't a corporation is up to state law and the courts to decide, but Proposition 32 defines it very clearly as any corporation under state or federal law," he says.
This could be an expensive fight. Labor unions have already ponied up more than $8 million to fight the measure. Conservative interests have raised half of that so far.