On the surface level, California’s Proposition 32, variously known as the “Paycheck Protection Initiative” or “Special Exemptions Act,” would ban special interest money (corporations, labor unions) from making its way into politicians’ campaign coffers. But the exemptions have some people and organizations understandably worried about its side effect.
A lot of businesses aren’t actually corporations: sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, LLPs, hedge funds, real estate companies, etc., and therefore none of them would fall under the regulation as set forth by the proposition. Such businesses would still be able to contribute directly to candidates while labor unions would be banned. California’s unions, naturally, opposite it.
Prop. 32 also exempts Super PACS, which are mostly corporate campaign financing mechanisms, from the ban. To put it simply, the bill would not stop a corporation or billionaire businessman such as Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers from dumping millions into a Super PAC, thereby drowning out the workers and union voices in the process.
No one will deny that unions can have a negative effect on lean business and government, but Prop 32 is a bandaid on a severed limb gushing piles of cash.
The reality is that with the rise of Super PAC campaign spending (bribery), corporations are more than happy to relinquish their rights to directly contribute to candidates because they can quite simply outspend workers in secret. Their right was infamously validated by the Supreme Court in Citizens United. They will take all the money they would have commmitted to candidates and shift it to Super PACs, achieving the same effect. No amount of union money can compete with that sort of unrestricted financial power.
“Prop. 32 is not what it seems, and it will hurt everyday Californians,” said Trudy Schafer of the League of Women Voters of California. It’s hard to disagree.
The legislation, which is up for a vote in November, does deserve some points for recognizing that money in politics is big problem, but it does nothing to address the latest legalized form of bribery that is the Super PAC.
According to StopSpecialExemptions.org, “The Special Exemptions Act was placed on the ballot by the right-wing Lincoln Club of Orange County, which California Watch reports was ‘instrumental’ in the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that led to the recent explosion of secretive Super PACs onto the national political scene.”
If the Californian people vote for this bill in November without full knowledge of how it will empower corporate interests and undercut worker interests, then they will be digging their own graves. And then it will be used by ever ALEC-inspired GOP group to advance similar legislation in other states.
It must be stopped.