October 28, 2012 | John Allan Peschong
Sacramento is broken — it doesn’t work for average Californians such as those of us on the Central Coast. The system is set up to benefit the big special interests that spend millions electing their hand-picked candidates, and then millions more on lobbyists and gifts to get special favors. Government unions get lavish pension deals and big companies get tax breaks that should be going to help small businesses.
In November, Proposition 32 may be the most heavily fought initiative on the ballot — even more than the governor’s tax increase. The reason for this is simple. Proposition 32 seeks to take power from the hands of union bosses, corporate executives and special interest lobbyists and put it back in the hands of taxpayers, smallbusiness owners and California families.
There are no exemptions and no loopholes. Proposition 32 cuts the money ties between special interests and Sacramento politicians by:
1. Prohibiting corporations and unions from making direct contributions to candidates.
2. Prohibiting government contractors from contributing money to government officials who award them contracts, eliminating “pay to play” situations.
3. Prohibiting unions and corporations from automatically deducting money from their members’ or employees’ paychecks for political purposes, thereby making all contributions voluntary.
Opponents of Proposition 32 are outspending their rivals at a rate of 4 to 1. Led by government unions and hedge fund managers, the special interests will do anything to protect the status quo that benefits them.
Currently, some corporate employees, as well as all union members, have money automatically withdrawn from their paychecks. This money can be used to support causes and candidates that the actual employees and members may not support.
Unions force members to go through a tedious process every year to opt-out of automatic paycheck deductions in hopes they won’t go through the hassle. Proposition 32 would ban automatic paycheck deduction for corporations and unions and require them to get permission from their members and employees to use their money for political purposes.
Proposition 32 does not limit the voices of teachers and firefighters as opponents’ ads claim — it gives them a choice in how their money is spent.
The opponents of Proposition 32 have run a blatantly false and misleading campaign to put fear and confusion into the minds of voters and their union members. They claim that big businesses have written exemptions for themselves in the initiative. Read the measure for yourself, and you will see that there are no exemptions.
Opponents argue that Proposition 32 does nothing to curb the money spent by super PACs in the state. That is true, but here is the reason why — the Supreme Court decided that super PACs and independent expenditures are constitutionally protected free speech and can’t be prohibited by the states.
It should also be noted that unions and any other group have an equal ability to create and use super PACs. This is not a tactic that is solely used by big business and it is not an exemption.
Retired California Supreme Court Justice John Arguelles said it best, “Proposition 32 ends corporate and union contributions to California politicians. Period. No exceptions. It goes as far as the U.S. Constitution allows to end special interest influence in state government. I urge you to vote yes on Proposition 32.”
Reformers on both sides of the political aisle are supporting Proposition 32. Democrats for Education Reform, a group lead by former Democratic state senator, teacher and union member Gloria Romero, wholeheartedly endorses Proposition 32. In an interview with The Sacramento Bee, Romero stated, “This isn’t about the unions becoming weaker. The members become stronger … Executive boards of the unions are scared of this. Rank-and-file members are not.”
Ending corporate and union contributions to candidates, “pay to play” tactics by government contractors and legislators, and coercive fundraising through automatic paycheck deductions is an important reform that California needs now.