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A pro-Proposition 32 ad, sponsored by two groups about which little is known, mostly targets unions' political influence.

Ad Watch: Prop. 32 spot's shadowy images befit its sponsors

Published: Monday, Sep. 24, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A

Supporters of Proposition 32, a Nov. 6 ballot measure to change campaign finance law, have launched a 33-second television and radio ad campaign that touts the ballot proposal. Here's the text of the statewide spot and an analysis by Jon Ortiz of The Bee's Capitol Bureau:

Narrator: If you had a telephoto lens, maybe you'd see it: Deals cut in shadows and backrooms. With contributions, big corporations and government unions control politicians.

It's killing California. Eleven percent unemployment. High taxes. Lavish pensions. Billions in waste. $50 billion a year on education, but among the worst-performing schools.

Cut the money tie between special-interest lobbyists and career politicians. Put people back in charge. Yes on Prop 32.

ANALYSIS: The ad's sponsors, the California Future Fund and the American Future Fund, are the kind of shadowy political organizations that the spot criticizes for influencing California politics.

The Iowa-based American Future Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that, under the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling, can receive unlimited contributions without disclosing its donors.

California Future Fund is a spinoff independent expenditure committee that receives its money from the American Future Fund.

Little is known about either group, although American Future Fund reportedly has ties to billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch.

The measure would curtail unions' influence by banning the use of payroll-deducted money for political purposes. Corporations would come under that same rule, but since they take their political money from company resources and executive contributions, the payroll provision doesn't affect them.

That disparity would give business interests more influence in the statehouse, not less.

Although the ad implies that the measure would weaken the clout of both organized labor and corporations, the litany of ills in the ad point squarely at civil service unions: government costs, waste and ineffectiveness. The fallout from corporate influence in Sacramento receives a glancing blow by comparison.

The ad says Proposition 32 will "Cut the money tie between special-interest lobbyists and career politicians." That's true: Unions and corporations could still employ lobbyists if voters approve the measure, but those special- interest agents couldn't hand donation checks to candidates.

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