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I have been a Republican since I turned 18. I even campaigned for the 1998 ‘paycheck protection’ Proposition 226. However, this time around, I am not supporting Proposition 32. Proposition 226 (1998) was a sensible ballot measure that required labor unions to have their members personally approve political contributions and that was basically it. Unfortunately Proposition 32 is not as reasonable as 226.
The difference between 32 and 226 is vast. It bans corporate and union contributions to state and local candidates, bans contributions from government contractors to the politicians that control the contracts and lastly bans automatic deductions by corporations, unions, and government of employees’ wages to be used for politics. Voters who rarely pay attention to politics may think this proposition sounds good from the start, but when you peel off the mask it does not look good.
Spending money on politics is constitutionally protected free speech, according to the Supreme Court decision in Buckley v Valeo, but not all of us have the money of Charles Munger Jr or Molly Munger for express our political views. People of modest means bundle their money in political action committees from groups ranging from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association to the SEIU, in order to have as effective a voice as the wealthy. I could agree with 2/3rds of Proposition 32, but silencing labor unions from donating to the political candidates of their choice is outright wrong.
I am opposing 32 because 32 is not a fair fight. The corporate proponents of this initiative will be virtually untouched by this ballot measure if passed. Stating that 32 will “ban corporate contributions” is only a shell game to conceal a ruthless vendetta against labor unions. Captains of industry like Andrew Jerrold “Jerry” Perenchio and Charles Munger Jr. will still be able to contribute to the candidates of their choice, but labor unions will be silenced. I may not always agree with labor unions and their political influence in California – in fact I think they’ve weakened our state’s competitive edge – but we need to have a healthy and equal dialogue between competing interests.
Even though Apple, Chevron, Disney and Intel would supposedly not be allowed to donate to local and state candidates there are so many loopholes in 32 for corporations it’s like a slice of Swiss cheese. Some groups that will be untouched are multi-millionaires and billionaires, investment groups, business and trade organizations, limited liability companies and the Super PAC’s made popular by the Citizens United decision.
Proposition 32 is not about stopping special interests from politics, it is only about making sure that labor unions are unilaterally disarmed from California politics. If you do not like what the CTA and SEIU are doing to our state you are more than welcome to join the dialogue by personally donating to candidates of your choice or by donating to organizations such as Howard Jarvis. Perhaps if Citizens United gets repealed I would get on board the Proposition 32 train, but this is one ride I am not riding this November.