With a single donation, a conservative group with ties to the Koch brothers has doubled the money backing a ballot measure that would hamper unions' political fundraising.
The Des Moines, Iowa-based American Future Fund gave $4 million to a new committee backing Proposition 32, the California Future Fund for Free Markets.
The American Future Fund is an organization affiliated with the Center to Protect Patient Rights, which in turn has reported ties to billionaires Charles and David Koch.
The donation signals that a funding fight that was running 10-1 against the measure is far from over.
The Koch brothers, worth an estimated $50 billion, are considered among the conservative movement's most generous donors, although the opaque nature of PAC reporting makes it difficult to know exactly how much they have donated to candidates and causes around the nation.
Brian Brokaw, spokesman for opponents of the measure, issued a statement calling the donation "a crass attempt by Super PAC billionaires and Big Oil to pass Prop. 32 and give themselves free rein in California's political system."
Jake Suski, speaking for the Yes on 32 campaign, said in an email that "we weren't aware and have nothing to do with this committee."
The measure has several provisions, none of which would prevent American Future Fund-style donations. Suski noted that labor unions have given more than $35 million to defeat the measure, and that such donations are considered free speech.
"Prop. 32 goes as far as the law permits," he said.
Labor groups are most concerned about the initiative's ban on using payroll-deducted money for political purposes.
If enacted, the measure would eliminate unions' fundraising staple while leaving corporations relatively unscathed, since they raise their money from executive contributions or by tapping company resources.
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