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League of Women Voters stars in new Prop. 32 ad

October 3, 2012 |  1:06 pm

Labor unions working to defeat Proposition 32 have tapped a good-government group to star in their latest ad.

Helen Hutchison, of the League of Women Voters of California, looks into the camera and details why her nonpartisan group opposes the November ballot measure, which would make major changes to the state's campaign finance system, including banning political contributions by payroll deduction -- the main fundraising tool of unions.

"Prop. 32 is deliberately written to look like campaign reform -- but it's not," she says in the ad. "It actually gives power to Wall Street, Big Oil and those secret campaign Super PACS."

While the initiative would ban corporations and unions from contributing directly to candidates, opponents argue that certain businesses, including limited liability companies, or LLCs, and business trusts, could be exempted. Supporters deny the measure contains corporate exemptions.

The state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said the initiative's language is unclear on that point.

Both sides agree that the measure does not regulate outside spending. It can't. The Supreme Court has ruled such contributions to be free speech, protected by the Constitution. If the initiative passed, groups would retain the right to spend unlimited amounts on independent committees to boost or challenge candidates and ballot measures.

In the ad, Hutchison says that the resulting landscape would favor businesses "while middle-class families pay the price." She does not mention the word "union."

Labor leaders fear that unions would be neutered because the measure eliminates the use of payroll deduction for political purposes -- their primary fundraising mechanism.


Unions raise nearly $10 million to fight Prop. 32

Bid to curb union spending gets big Democratic backer

California voters leaning against campaign finance initiative

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento