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Ad Watch: Foes say Prop. 32 helps oil companies, Wall Street, super PACs

Published: Friday, Aug. 17, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Sunday, Aug. 19, 2012 - 6:27 pm

Opponents of Proposition 32, a Nov. 6 measure to change campaign finance law, have launched a 60-second radio ad that blasts the proposal. Here's the statewide ad and an analysis by Jon Ortiz of The Bee Capitol Bureau.

Male narrator: It's the oldest advice in the book: "If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is."

Now, along comes Proposition 32. A ballot initiative deliberately written to seem like it will fix a broken system when, in fact, Prop. 32 isn't at all what it seems.

Female narrator: It's really a deceptive proposition stuffed with special exemptions for the oil companies, Wall Street and those secret campaign super PACs who want to rig the system while the middle-class pays the price.

Male: We need real reform that brings real transparency and gets the secret money out of politics.

Female: Leading reform groups like the League of Women Voters and Common Cause all oppose Prop. 32.

Male: Learn the truth about who's really behind Prop. 32 at votenoon32.org.

Female: Because it's not what it seems.

Analysis

The union-sponsored ad implies that Proposition 32 exempts oil companies and Wall Street interests from campaign fundraising and spending rules put on labor groups. That's not entirely true.

It bans unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidate campaigns. Both could fund "independent expenditure" efforts to help candidates. Neither could use payroll-deducted money to fund politics.

But Proposition 32 would hurt labor more than corporations, hobbling unions' main vehicle for collecting political money – payroll deductions. Companies, by contrast, raise political money from executives or company treasuries.

The measure doesn't cover some types of businesses, such as limited-liability partnerships or sole proprietorships. Some of the state's most active corporate donors, such as AT&T, would be covered by the measure's provisions.

It's misleading for the ad to suggest the measure will lead to a proliferation of "secret campaign super PACs," such as those in federal races. While Proposition 32 will likely shift more campaign action to independent expenditure committees, California's laws requiring disclosure of donors will still apply.

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