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Good-government groups call Proposition 32 deceptive

July 23, 2012 |  1:16 pm

Two of California's leading good-government groups joined with some of the state's most powerful labor unions Monday to denounce Proposition 32, the November ballot measure that promises to eliminate special-interest money in politics.

At a morning news conference, representatives of the League of Women Voters of California and Common Cause urged voters to oppose the initiative, calling it a deceptive measure that would disproportionately harm unions and expand the influence of businesses.

"Prop. 32 is not what it seems, and it will hurt everyday Californians," said Trudy Schafer of the League of Women Voters of California.

Although the initiative would ban corporations and labor unions from directly contributing to candidates, good-government advocates said the measure exempts limited liability companies, or LLCs, and business trusts. They also argue that another key provision -- banning the practice of political contributions by payroll deduction -- hobbles the primary method labor unions use to raise political cash.

The result, the groups said, would be the rise of more business-fueled super PACs, which are already playing an outsized role in elections this year.

"We can all agree, Sacramento has too much special-interest influence. And the money spent on political campaigns has caused all of us to mistrust the campaign finance system," said Derek Cressman of Common Cause, who charged that Proposition 32 backers are "trying to use our anger and mistrust to change the rules for their own benefit."

Jake Suski, a spokesman for the Proposition 32 campaign, dismissed the criticisms, saying that the initiative uses state and federal definitions of "corporation" and that opponents "are going to distract voters with bogus arguments to protect the status quo and maintain their influence."

As for super PACs, Suski said the initiative had its limits. The independent committees, he said, are protected under the U.S. Constitution.

"Prop. 32 goes as far as the law of the land permits to cut the flow of money between special interests and politicians," he said.

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-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento
twitter.com/mjmishak

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