Wolf in sheep’s clothing

Proposition 32 is a deceptive attempt to weaken unions’ political clout

Of the statewide measures on the Nov. 6 ballot, one is not what it seems. That’s Proposition 32, the so-called “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act,” which purports to be an evenhanded campaign-finance reform but in fact is, as Michael Hiltzik writes in the Los Angeles Times, “a fraud to end all frauds.”

Proposition 32 is the third attack on unions—two similar initiatives, in 1998 and 2005, failed—by a core group of super-rich Republicans known for their lavish spending on conservative causes and candidates. As Hiltzik says, “They’re the special interests” corrupting the political process.

Proposition 32 purports to limit both corporate and union contributions to political campaigns, but it won’t do so because it doesn’t include so-called super PACs and independent expenditure groups, which will still be allowed to gather and spend unlimited money. It also will exempt a whole class of powerful commercial enterprises that aren’t corporations but have similar resources, such as hedge funds, real-estate trusts and investment firms. The men behind the measure won’t be affected at all.

In the meantime, unions, which often are the only campaign-funding source that can compete with corporations and the ultra-wealthy, would be prohibited from automatically deducting dues from members’ paychecks for political purposes, even if the members approve. This would effectively cripple them as political players.

Remember, unions are democratically run organizations. Their members vote on their leaders and policies, including political deductions. Non-members represented by unions already have the right to withhold dues used for political purposes.

We don’t always agree with how unions use their money and power, but we know that without their influence the corporations and the 1 percent would exercise even more power than they do now, and that would be terrible for California.

Vote no on Proposition 32.