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AFL-CIO Now

California's Prop. 32 Would Be Citizens United on Steroids

Chris Chapman

This is an excerpt from The Hill, by John Logan, professor and director of labor and employment studies at San Francisco State University.

Conservative activists in California are promoting a deceptive ballot proposition that would increase the ability of business groups and billionaires to dominate state elections. The measure, Proposition 32, claims to be an even-handed effort at campaign finance reform—but nothing could be further from the truth. Prop. 32 (or “Stop Special Interest Money Now,” as its big money supporters prefer to call it) would cripple the ability of unions to participate in politics but have little or no impact on unlimited spending by corporate executives and other wealthy individuals.

Data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Investigative Reporting demonstrates that the business interests who would benefit most from Prop. 32 already dominate California election spending.

Between 2001-2011, business interests spent over $700 million on initiatives, candidates, and parties, while labor unions contributed well under half that amount— just over $284 million. Wealthy individuals bankrolled a further $231 million. Under Prop. 32 neither the spending by business interests nor wealthy individuals would face meaningful limitations—indeed, it would likely explode—while that of unions would be all-but eliminated.

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