L.A. Times – Proposition 32: A fraud to end all frauds

An excerpt of an article by Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times that discusses how Proposition 32 is just another attack by Republicans on unions.

Proposition 32 is nothing but an attack by Republicans and conservatives on unions and their members. Two previous attempts by the same gang failed at the ballot box, in 1998 and 2005. What’s new about this effort is that it’s dressed up as a broad reform aimed at “special interests,” and it’s even more union-unfriendly than its predecessors.

We’ll start by examining what Proposition 32 purports to do.

On the grounds that “special interests have too much power over government,” the measure bans direct contributions to California candidates by corporations and labor unions. It prohibits the collection of “political funds” from corporate employees and union members via payroll deduction, even if the employee or member voluntarily approves. (That’s more stringent than the previous versions, which merely required that union members give written permission for political expenditures once a year.) Political funds include money spent for or against a candidate or ballot measure or for a party or political action committee, or PAC.

Sounds pretty good so far, doesn’t it? “It looks temptingly like reform,” says Trudy Schafer, program director for the League of Women Voters of California. “But it’s not.”

That’s because Proposition 32 bristles with enormous loopholes tailor-made for businesses and their wealthy backers. To begin with, it exempts such common business structures as LLCs, partnerships and real estate trusts. If you’re a venture investor, land developer or law firm, Proposition 32 doesn’t lay a finger on you.

The drafters, who include conservative attorneys Thomas Hiltachk and Michael Capaldi, know full well that payroll deductions are how unions get almost all of their funds, and businesses get almost none of theirs.

The infusion of big money into politics has become a more important issue since the Supreme Court’s infamous 2010 Citizens United decision awarding free speech rights to corporations, as though they are people. The decision liberated corporations to contribute to electoral campaigns virtually without limitation. That has turbocharged fundraising by so-called super PACs such as Karl Rove‘s conservative American Crossroads, the Mitt Romney-supporting Restore Our Future, and the President Obama-supporting Priorities USA.

The Proposition 32 campaign says the measure is carefully crafted to comply with Citizens United, but if that’s so, it’s just another sign of how flawed and deplorable the Supreme Court ruling was. At the moment, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics, business outspends organized labor 15 to 1.

The entire article can be found at http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20120819,0,2211928.column