This week the staff of CLCV was proud to join many of our allies in the environmental and labor movements, as well as state Senator Mark Leno, at an event where we declared our collective opposition to Proposition 32 on California's November 2012 ballot.
We all agree that Prop. 32 is a fraud masquerading as campaign finance reform. It is as far from real reform as it could be. The measure prohibits both corporations and unions from using payroll deductions to collect political funds, but as Prop 32 backers know full well, unions get almost all of their funds through payroll deductions and corporations almost none.
In reality, Prop 32 is just another attempt by big polluters and other corporate interests to trick California voters into voting against their own interests.
It seems like only yesterday that our organization was part of the coalition of labor, health, business, and environmental groups that stopped the Koch brothers and Big Oil from repealing our state’s landmark clean energy law… way back in 2010.
These same deep-pocketed players know that given the number of strong environmental leaders in the state legislature, they have challenges pushing their anti-environment, anti-regulation agenda through the legitimate policy process. So they’re shamelessly going back again to our initiative system to try to fool voters, this time to laughably promote a proposal that claims it will stop the influence of special interest money.
Well, it sure depends on what your definition of “special interest” is. There's got to be a dictionary with a picture of the Koch Brothers next to that phrase; they're way past Halloween-costume-character-villain status as the out-of-state billionaire right-wing extremists try to mislead California voters and corrupt the electoral process with another deceptive ballot measure.
During the anti-Prop 32 event, Victor Menotti, Executive Director of the International Forum on Globalization released a report that highlights the anti-labor and dirty energy agenda of the Koch Brothers. The report found the Koch Brothers had spent:
$1 million in 2010 to overturn California's landmark clean energy and climate law, AB 32;
$4 million through the American Future Fund to support Proposition 32; and
At least $656 million on attacks on environmental protections and workers’ rights.
In addition to CLCV and IFG, the other groups that came together to oppose Prop 32 included the BlueGreen Alliance, the Sierra Club, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Communities for a Better Environment.
Prop. 32 has huge loopholes for large corporations. And surprise surprise, this measure makes no attempt to deal with ballot measure spending, as the Sacramento Bee points out in their editorial opposing Prop 32.
Finally, as we all know, thanks to the Supreme Court's disastrous Citizens United decision, corporations and billionaires can still give unlimited political contributions to Super PACs. (And good luck to the average person who doesn’t have a lot of time on their hands figuring out that Super PACs with pleasant-sounding names like “the California Senior Advocates League” are actually funded by multinational giants like Chevron and Phillip Morris.)
The California League of Conservation Voters works to elect the best environmental champions who will stand up to the real special interests like Big Oil and the chemical industry. As an organization that depends mostly on the individual donations of our members, which collectively allows us to play a significant role in elections, we know that our members, like all California voters, are concerned about the impact of big money in the political system.
However, Proposition 32 is not the reform we seek. It’s about taking power away from working people and fueling a union-busting agenda that will make our communities less safe and decimate our environmental protections. The companies and people like the Koch Brothers behind Prop 32 aren’t looking out for our interests. They’re looking after theirs, and we won’t be fooled.
(PS: Watch a video from this week's event opposing Prop 32 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1MnZyASd04&feature=player_embedded).