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Bid to curb union spending gets big Democratic backer

July 17, 2012 |  1:07 pm

GloriaRomero

Proposition 32 just got a big Democratic voice.

Former state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Los Angeles Democrat, announced her support this week for the November ballot measure that would ban the practice of political contribution by payroll deduction, the primary method labor unions use to raise political cash.

“As someone who has been on the political front lines in Sacramento, I've seen first hand how special interests control the political process," Romero said in a statement. "Through their vast resources, special interests are able to hold lawmakers hostage to their agenda. This isn’t a partisan or ideological issue -- all Californians deserve elected officials who will work for them, rather than special interests."

In some ways, Romero's support is not surprising. Throughout her tenure in Sacramento she battled publicly with some of the state's most powerful unions, namely the California Teachers Assn. and the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. In her statement, she cited education legislation that died in the Legislature because of union opposition.

Supporters note that Proposition 32 prohibits both unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidates. Opponents argue that the measure disproportionately harms unions, which get most of their money through payroll deductions, and does nothing to curb the influence of independent committees and so-called super PACs, which are playing a burgeoning role in elections this year.

The No on 32 campaign, backed by organized labor, released a Web video Tuesday to drive the point home, saying the ballot measure would be like "Miracle-Gro" for corporate super PACs "while the voices of working families, everyday businesses and unions are silenced."

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-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

Twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Former state Sen. Gloria Romero in 2007. Credit: Associated Press

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