CA: Donor Controversy Surrounds Anti-Union Prop 32

The battle over California’s Proposition 32 is heating up. A staggering $120 million has been raised for both sides of the proposition and last Thursday, a lawsuit was filed to force a California PAC to disclose its donors. Yesterday, a Sacramento Superior Court Judge issued a tentative ruling granting a preliminary injunction to audit whether donations were made in accordance with California finance rules.

Proposition 32, also known as “The Paycheck Protection Initiative” aims to curtail the political influence of California’s unions.  Public sector and trade unions are some of the biggest donors to California’s political industry, and they have repeatedly quashed reform measures designed to help the state’s ailing financial situation. Proposition 32 would ban donations to candidates from unions and corporations, it would stop unions and corporations from deducting money from paychecks to be used in political campaigns and finally, it would stop government contractors from donating money to public officials who are responsible for awarding government contracts.

Union support for the measure registers at a cool $68 million (so far) but the controversy is focused on the proponents of the measure.  A suit was filed by the state of California with the Fair Political Practices Commission to force an Arizona group to reveal the origin of an $11 million dollar donation.  The donation was given to the Small Business Action Committee, who are also fighting Governor Brown’s tax-hiking proposition 30. 

California law does not require non-profit organizations to reveal their donors if they were not made for a specific political purpose. Common Cause filed a complaint with the FPPC claiming the money donated was actually earmarked for specific use against prop 30 and in favor of prop 32.  

A recent poll from Reason shows the electorate is divided on the anti-union proposition. The poll found 48% opposing the measure and 45% supporting it. California’s initiative process is a high stakes industry; spending has reached $350 million. Lawyers will be court tomorrow before a final decision on donor disclosure is issued.

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