Bob Blymyer, executive director of the Sacramento County Taxpayers League, is responding to Dan Morain's Dec. 22 column " 'Reform' initiative wears a soiled white hat." Morain wrote: "The initiative is a remake of so-called "paycheck protection" measures the new version tries to be clever, purporting to restrict corporate money as well. In fact, it would gut only one side's ability to play in politics organized labor."
If there's one thing almost all Californians agree on, it's that Sacramento is highly dysfunctional. To fix what's wrong with our government, we need to go right to the source: the money. That's what the "Stop Special Interest Money Now" initiative does.
A recent column by The Bee's Dan Morain failed to recognize the transformative effect this measure will have: ending the practice of special interests, whether unions or corporations, giving money directly to politicians in exchange for votes to benefit those special interests.
Morain very carefully selects certain facts and figures to fit his argument, but he ignores the big picture.
In 2010, corporations and trade associations contributed more than $47 million to state legislative and constitutional office races, while unions contributed more than $25 million. This measure ends that. These direct donations not only give special interests access the average voter doesn't have, but they often come with the expectation that the politician will cast votes to help their donors.
In 2010, telecom giant AT&T donated in 98 percent of legislative races, ensuring the doors to nearly every office in the Legislature are always open to their lobbyists.
Morain acknowledges the manipulative legislation that moved this measure from the June to the November ballot was a direct result of unions using the leverage created by their political patronage to persuade legislators to change the rules because they believe the makeup of the electorate gives them a better chance of defeating it in the fall.
The initiative would end this because it prohibits both unions and corporations from donating to politicians. In addition, companies that do business with local and state government will no longer be allowed to donate to politicians in charge of awarding government contracts, nor will unions who negotiate wages and pensions with these officials. The initiative also protects the right of union members and employees to express their views and participate in politics through giving to campaigns, but it puts the power to decide how their money is spent on politics into the hands of the union members and employees themselves.
Morain points out this measure will not cut off all money in politics. That's true, because doing so would be unconstitutional. However, it's a big step in the right direction a progressive reform to give a louder voice to voters, not moneyed special interests.