Judge orders changes to Prop. 32 language
A Sacramento County Superior Court judge on Monday ordered the secretary of state to change language on the November ballot describing Proposition 32, the initiative that promises to eliminate special-interest money in politics.
According to the new ballot label, the measure “prohibits” unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidates, as well as using payroll deduction to raise political cash. The label initially used the word “restricts.” The backers of Proposition 32 had argued that the original language, as determined by the attorney general’s office, was misleading.
“Voters deserve to be informed that Prop. 32 doesn't just reduce direct contributions from corporations and unions to politicians, it eliminates them entirely,” said spokesman Jake Suski.
Judge Michael P. Kenny, however, denied another request by Proposition 32’s supporters to strike key language from the measure’s title and summary in state-printed voter materials. Backers had targeted a phrase that notes: “Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition.”
That’s the argument at the heart of the union-backed opposition campaign, which has been running statewide radio ads denouncing the initiative as “a deceptive proposition stuffed with special exemptions” for businesses.
Unions lost a separate challenge to ballot language that they said could mislead voters into thinking payroll deductions can be used with workers’ written permission. All payroll deduction is barred under the measure.
Fights over initiative language are nothing new, but the stakes are high in November -- particularly for labor, which has said Proposition 32 would effectively neuter its influence in California politics. Unions have raised more than $17.7 million to defeat the measure.
-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento