Prop 32, known as the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act, would introduce three key reforms to California's campaign finance rules.
First, it would ban the use of employee payroll deductions for "political purposes." According to the legislative analyst's office, "political purposes" would include campaign contributions, independent expenditures, and other spending to influence voters.
MoreFollow the Money: Interactive database lets you look at who's funding both sides of the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act
Read the Full Text: Read the proposed law as published in the state's Voter Information Guide
If you are a regular full-time employee, then your company probably takes deductions from your paycheck for federal and state taxes, Social Security, and the like. Union members also see a deduction for their dues. Currently, unions may use that money for political purposes in addition to their regular activities, such as collective bargaining. This part of the measure appears to have the greatest impact on unions, since, as the legislative analyst estimates, few corporations finance their political activities this way.
Second, Prop 32 would forbid corporations and unions from making direct contributions to state and local candidates or the committees that fund them. A similar rule already exists at the federal level.
Third, the measure would make it illegal for government contractors to contribute to elected officials who have a hand in awarding them a contract, at least while that contract is under consideration or is in effect.
WHAT YOUR VOTE MEANS
Voting YES means that you would like to approve the new restrictions on political spending for corporations, unions, and government contractors.
Voting NO means that you reject the measure in its entirety.
WHO/WHAT IT WOULD AFFECT
Unions: Unions are free to fund political campaigns using the dues they collect from members. While some members pay their dues directly to the unions, others have it deducted automatically by their employers, which then transfer the funds to the union. If Prop 32 passes, unions would not be allowed to use that second source of funding on political activities. While nothing in the measure prevents voluntary political contributions from members, union representatives have claimed the measure would all but eliminate their political spending.
Corporations: The ban on using payroll deductions for political purposes would likely have little effect on corporations, since they tend to use other sources, such as profits, to make campaign contributions. Though both unions and corporations would be prohibited from donating directly to candidates, they would still be able to spend unlimited amounts of money on independent expenditures and Super PACs.
Government Contractors: Companies that want to work on a government project would not be allowed to donate to the politicians who award the contract, at least during the bidding period and for the life of the contract.
Political Campaigns: At the federal level, it's already illegal for unions and corporations to give money directly to candidates. Prop 32 would apply the same rule to state and local candidates. Candidates would still be able to raise funds through individuals, small businesses, and others. Corporate support could continue, but it would have to come through independent expenditures and Super PAC spending.
State Budget: State and local governments could see a combined cost of more than $1 million a year to investigate violations and respond to requests for advice, according to the legislative analyst.
WHO'S BEHIND IT
Prop 32 is supported by Citizens for California Reform, Democrats for Education Reform, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the National Federation of Independent Business - California, and others. Major financial backers include:
- Charles Munger, Jr.
- Thomas M. Siebel
- William E. Bloomfield, Jr.
- A. Jerrold Perenchio
WHO'S AGAINST IT
In general the major unions oppose the measure, as does the League of Women Voters. Top donors to the No on 32 campaign include:
- California Teachers Association
- California State Council of Service Employees
- California Professional Firefighters
- Service Employees International Union Local 1000
ARGUMENTS BEING MADE FOR
Politicians take millions from corporate and special interests, so they end up working for their donors instead of voters. Prop 32 will stop these donations from special interests.
Prop 32 does not have any hidden loopholes or exemptions. It cannot put restrictions on Super PACs or independent expenditure committees, because those are protected by the Constitution.
It will guarantee every dollar given for politics is voluntary by stopping special interests from using payroll deductions for political purposes.
It will stop politicians from giving government contracts to their political donors.
ARGUMENTS BEING MADE AGAINST
It will not take money out of politics, since it does nothing to control the amount of spending by Super PACs and independent expenditure committees.
It exempts thousands of big businesses like Wall Street investment firms, hedge funds, developers, and insurance companies, all of which have been major donors to California political campaigns.
It unfairly targets unions, since hardly any corporations use payroll deductions for political contributions.
It will lead to an unbalanced political system, since corporate interests will continue to have the same level of funding and unions will see their political power reduced.