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The message of an anti-Prop. 32 ad is that its backers stand to benefit from it.

Ad Watch: Foes' list of Proposition 32 bad guys is flawed

Published: Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 - 7:06 am

Union-backed opponents of Proposition 32, a Nov. 6 measure to change campaign finance law, have been broadcasting a 30-second TV spot that blasts the proposal. Organized labor is on the attack because the measure bans their funding source for political activities – payroll deductions.

Here's the description and text of the ad with an analysis by Jon Ortiz of The Bee Capitol Bureau.

Narrator: Have you heard about Proposition 32? It claims it will stop campaign spending by special interests, but let's see who's exempt:

On-screen list:

Exempt from Prop 32:

Big Oil Companies

Insurance Company Executives

Wall Street Bankers

Developers

Hedge Fund Managers

Super PACs

Narrator: And, now let's see who's funding the Yes on 32 campaign:

On-screen list:

Funding "Yes on 32":

Big Oil Companies

Insurance Company Executives

Wall Street Bankers

Developers

Hedge Fund Managers

Super PACs

Narrator: Yep, the groups funding Prop. 32 have exempted themselves. So those special interests will have free rein to give themselves more tax breaks while the middle class pays the price. Learn more about Prop. 32. Because it's not what it seems.

ANALYSIS: The union-sponsored ad erects a Who's Who roster of unpopular business figures and political institutions as both funding Proposition 32 and benefiting should it pass, but the list is misleading.

Proposition 32 specifies that "corporations" fall under its provisions, leaving room for noncorporate entities such as partnerships and limited liability companies to continue business as usual.

The ad overstates the loophole by generalizing. It includes "oil companies," for example, but Chevron would come under the measure's political contribution limitations because the San Ramon-based petroleum firm is a corporation.

Should the measure pass, the courts will have to define its scope.

The ad lists bankers, developers and "insurance company executives" as being exempt, giving the impression that their companies are exempt. But all individuals are exempt – Proposition 32's provisions apply to unions and corporations.

It's true that wealthy businesspeople and super PACs are supporting the measure. On Tuesday, for example, Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership gave $11 million to an independent effort that both opposes Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative and supports Proposition 32. It's not clear how the out-of-state group is funded.

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