The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 4, 2013
Engineering association funded shadowy initiative campaigns

Thumbnail image for 20 dollar bill.jpgA group that backs privatizing public infrastructure engineering work gave $400,000 to a opaque out-of-state organization that injected millions of dollars -- and plenty of controversy -- into California's initiative campaigns last year.

New state campaign filings show that American Council of Engineering Companies California made a $150,000 donation to a Virginia-based nonprofit in July and another $250,000 in September.

December 31, 2012
Engineers put Prop. 32 defeat at top of 2012 political priority list

California's state engineers union gave top priority to defeating Proposition 32, contributing $600,000 to efforts that turned back the campaign finance measure at the November polls.

Professional Engineers in California Government's PECG PAC's contributions to the No on 32 campaign accounted for more than one-third of the $1.7 million the engineers gave to campaigns, parties and causes, according to the 13,000-member union's political contribution filings.

Total political spending by PECG came to $2.2 million this year. Professional services ranked a distant second on the union's expense list, with the money going to a pair of well-known Sacramento-based consulting firms, Blanning & Baker Associates ($56,000) and Aaron Read & Associates ($28,000).

Blanning & Baker is the consulting/lobbying/labor relations firm co-founded by Bruce Blanning, PECG's executive director. (Click here for a piece ithat profiles Blanning as one of The Bee's Californians to Watch in 2013.)

As you look through the data below, tabs at the bottom of the table open other worksheets that parse the numbers in a few different ways.

Expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs such as fees paid to political consultants and attorneys. Contributions pages break out donations given to political campaigns and causes.

For groups that are not independently organized, such as SEIU, AFSCME, IUOE and others, the data don't reflect spending by their umbrella organizations.

November 8, 2012
Column Extra: More about the 'Proposition 32' effect

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Election Day is a lot like the Super Bowl: When it's finally over, everyone -- players, pundits and fans -- offer up hindsight analysis to explain the outcome.

So it is with today's State Worker column about union get-out-the-vote efforts to defeat Proposition 32 and how they helped Proposition 30 win.

In a post-election email, California Labor Federation spokesman Steve Smith called the phenomenon "the Proposition 32 effect."

We dealt with just one aspect of the political spillover that flowed from galvanizing labor groups against the payroll-deduction measure, but as Smith points out, it's likely that union muscle made a difference up and down the ballot -- including Democrats' historic supermajority takeover of both chambers of the California Legislature.

We've posted Smith's email below.

November 7, 2012
Now that Prop. 32 has lost and Prop. 30 has won, what next?

As we reported in the wee hours this morning, Proposition 32 has lost and Proposition 30, Jerry Brown's tax increase measure, has won.

When we asked State Worker blog users last week to forecast the votes on the politically linked measures, 34 percent of you correctly predicted the outcome.

Now here's a new question for you to ponder:


November 7, 2012
Proposition 32 losing margin widens, opponents declare win

The union-backed campaign to defeat Proposition 32 declared victory just before midnight Tuesday.

The Yes on 32 campaign didn't concede defeat, but spokesman Jake Suski didn't sound optimistic for a comeback, either. Click here for more details on Capitol Alert.

November 5, 2012
The Sacramento Bee breaks down key ballot measures

The Bee breaks down key ballot measures

Here are three quick videos produced by The Bee's Capitol Bureau staff that lay out the issues and politics of four key measures on the Tuesday ballot.

Storified by Jon Ortiz · Mon, Nov 05 2012 09:18:02

Here are three quick videos produced by The Bee's Capitol Bureau staff, hosted by Capitol Alert blogger Torey Van Oot, that lay out the issues and politics of four key measures on the Tuesday ballot: Propositions 30 and 38, Proposition 32 and Proposition 37.
Props. 30/38thebeecapitolalert
Prop. 32thebeecapitolalert
Prop. 37thebeecapitolalert

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November 2, 2012
From the notebook: The Field Poll stats on Proposition 32

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Here's the statistical breakdown and analysis by the Field Poll's Mark Dicamillo and Mervin Field of how likely voters plan to cast their ballots -- or already have -- on Proposition 32, the campaign finance measure. As our story in today's Bee notes, half of those asked said they intend to vote against measure and the gap has grown significantly between opponents and supporters in the last six weeks.

The Field Poll release this morning also includes a breakdown of Proposition 34, which aims to repeal California's death penalty. Bee colleague Sam Stanton wrote a front-page story from those numbers.

Scroll to the end of the document for the poll's methodology and the exact wording of the questions asked.

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November 1, 2012
Arizona donor appeals, forestalling FPPC audit

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgAs expected, Phoenix-based nonprofit Americans for Responsible Leadership has appealed a court order that it submit to a state audit of the funding sources behind $11 million it contributed to a California committee fighting Proposition 30 and backing Proposition 32.

Click here for the story from The Bee's Kevin Yamamura.

October 31, 2012
Poll: How will Props. 30 and 32 fare next week?

We're in the final stretch to Election Day on Nov. 6, with two measures of particular interest to state workers on the ballot: Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase, Proposition 30, and the campaign finance measure we've closely covered for the last two months, Proposition 32.

We've written about the political link between the two and how opponents and proponents of each measure have calculated how much of their combined $124 million or so to put into the dual-front battle.

Viewed as a political package, there are only four ways the vote can go. One is a clear win for organized labor. One is a clear win for business interests.

The other two possible outcomes, in our estimation, would be more of a win for business than for the unions.

When the votes are tallied, which way do you think it will go? Thoughtful comments welcomed for a Blog Back we're planning to write soon.


October 30, 2012
Court says Arizona-based Prop. 32 donor must disclose funds

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgA Sacramento Superior Court judge has issued a tentative ruling that would require an Arizona-based nonprofit disclose the source of $11 million it has injected into California politics, including efforts to support Proposition 32 and oppose Proposition 30.

Click here to read Kevin Yamamura's report.

Scroll down to Item 11 in the embedded document below to read the tentative ruling that will be up for debate at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday. Judges rarely change their tentative decisions.

October 29, 2012
Campaign money in Prop. 32 fight reaches $124 million

121029 Prop 32.JPGWith just over a week before Election Day, the interests backing Proposition 32 and fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, have raised $58 million, including a recent six-figure donation from a Texas oil man.

Meanwhile, the union-backed No on 32 side has raised $66 million.

The money highlights the role of special-interest independent expenditures in backing a measure that claims to be a check on special interests.

October 29, 2012
The State Worker on radio today to talk about Proposition 32

100610 microphone.JPGWe're scheduled for an appearance on San Diego's KPBS at noon today for an interview with "Midday Edition" host Maureen Cavanaugh. We'll be talking about Proposition 32.

In you're in the San Diego area you can tune in at 89.5 FM or 97.7 FM in Calexico. Click the this link to join the live stream of the discussion near the top of the hour. You also can listen to the archived show here. We're supposed to be on for about five minutes.


October 26, 2012
Poll: How much would Prop. 32 affect business interests?

Last week we asked how much unions would feel the effect if Proposition 32 becomes law. Here's a breakdown of responses to our decidedly unscientific poll on the measure.

Of the 1,200 blog users who took the poll, 53 percent said the measure would deal "serious injury" or a "death blow" to organized labor's clout.

Proposition 32 is written to include "unions and corporations" in its bans on payroll-deducted money for political purposes and direct contributions to candidates or candidate-controlled committees.

A new survey indicates that a majority of voters are opposed to the measure, but we still have to ask the follow up to last week's poll:

October 24, 2012
Poll: Support for Proposition 32 falls to 39 percent

Public support for Proposition 32, the controversial campaign finance measure, has faded to 39 percent among likely voters two weeks before Election Day, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll.

Fifty-three percent of likely voters oppose the proposal to ban unions and corporations from using payroll-deduced money for political purposes, according to the poll released tonight. Seven percent are undecided.

California's labor unions, which rely on payroll-deduced dues, have made defeating the measure their priority this election year.

Public opinion about the initiative breaks along party lines, with a majority of Republicans favoring it and a majority of Democrats opposed. Independent voters oppose the measure by a 49 percent to 42 percent margin, according to the poll.

October 24, 2012
Union contributions push No on Prop. 32 money past $60 million

With two weeks remaining before Election Day, the donations to the labor-backed campaign committee to defeat Proposition 32 have reached $61 million.

Unions have made killing the measure their top priority, worried that if it becomes law that its ban on money from payroll deductions for political activities would handcuff their influence by choking off their sole source of funding.

The top three contributors to the anti-32 campaign have given half the money raised so far: the California Teachers Association ($20.1 million), Service Employees International Union ($8.8 million) and American Federation of State,County and Municipal Employees ($3.8 million).

Proposition 32 also bans corporations from using payroll deductions to fund politics, but since they raise their money through other means -- company treasuries and executive contributions -- measure would have little impact on their political resources.

The committee backing the measure has received $4.2 million from individual donors. But the real action has shifted to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, which set up a committee that both supports Proposition 32 and opposes Gov. Jerry Brown's tax proposal, Proposition 30.

The business group has received $29.3 million, with $16 million coming from Republican activist Charles Munger Jr. and $11 million from an Arizona nonprofit, Americans for Responsible Leadership, that hasn't disclosed the source of its money.

These tables detail the money backing and opposing Proposition 32 as reported to the California Secretary of State. Tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet toggle to the different accounts:

October 19, 2012
Former Univision chief contributes another $500,000 for Prop. 32

With a $500,000 campaign contribution reported today, Jerrold Perenchio has moved into second place on the list of individual contributors to the Yes on Proposition 32 campaign.

The former Univision chief gave the money on Thursday, according to a campaign disclosure report filed today. Perenchio has now given $750,000 directly to the campaign.

Only Charles Munger Jr. has given more to the campaign, $873,000, which is promoting a measure that aims to alter California campaign finance law by, among other things, banning payroll-deducted money for political purposes.

Despite Perenchio's latest campaign contribution, the big pro-Proposition 32 money has shifted to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, which received an $11 million contribution from an Arizona group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, earlier this week. The money can go to independent campaigning for Proposition 32 or against Proposition 30.

October 18, 2012
Check out the 'Proposition Song'

From our sister blog, Capitol Alert:

The nonpartisan California Voter Foundation has released "The Proposition Song" to introduce voters to the 11 ballot measures whose fate will be decided in the Nov. 6 election.

Click here for more from The Bee's Jim Sanders and to see the 3-minute video, shot at various locations around Sacramento.

October 17, 2012
Arizona group gives $11 million to pass Prop. 32, defeat Prop. 30

As reported on our sister blog, Capitol Alert, a committee supporting Proposition 32 and opposing Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase on the Nov. 6 ballot has received $11 million from an out-of-state group.

Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership gave the money to Small Business Action Committee PAC, which is backing Proposition 32 and opposing Proposition 30. The group was formed as a non-profit in Arizona and has not reported its donors there or here.

It's also not clear how the money will be spent, because the business committee can spend the money to support Proposition 32 or oppose Proposition 30. Donations to the PAC now total $29.2 million, according to state records.

October 15, 2012
From the notebook: More about Prop. 32 and states' payroll laws

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

We spoke to about 15 sources for our recent story on how unions would react if voters approve Proposition 32 in last week's Bee. Here are some of the quotes from those interviews that didn't get into the story.

October 12, 2012
Poll: How much would Prop. 32 impact California unions?

Forces arrayed for and against Proposition 32, which would ban payroll-deducted money for political activities, are entering the last three weeks before the Nov. 6 election. Polling indicates that California voters are leaning against the measure.

But what if it passes?


October 11, 2012
From the notebook: More about Washington's paycheck laws

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our report in today's Bee takes a look at the history of state laws that place limits on either the spending or the collection of payroll-deducted dues. We wanted to look back to see what California unions might do if Proposition 32 passes.

A significant part of the story looks at Washington state, where voters in 1992 passed the nation's first law to require that members of public-employee unions give annual written permission for their dues to be spent on political activities. A decade later, the state Legislature changed the law to require only a lifetime opt-in with annual employer notice of employees' right to opt out.

Here are some links for State Worker blog users who want to dive more deeply into the Washington law:

Information on Washington's 1992 Initiative 134.
Senate Bill 6713, the 2002 law that eased the member opt-in requirement.
A synopsis of the measure.

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October 10, 2012
Prop. 32 debate pits GOP strategist vs. journalist; campaigns weigh in

Twitter debate pits Republican strategist vs. journalist, campaigns weigh in

Political arguments break out on Twitter all the time. On Tuesday, Proposition 32 was a hot topic. Here are some bits of the debate.

Storified by Jon Ortiz · Wed, Oct 10 2012 12:00:59

It all started with this story by Bay Area News Group reporter Steve Harmon:
Who's who of rich and powerful behind Proposition 32SACRAMENTO -- The main premise of Proposition 32 is that it would stamp out the influence of special interest groups, equally condemning ...

October 10, 2012
California teachers' union donations surpass $20 million to fight Prop. 32

The California Teachers' Association has given another $2 million to the No on Proposition 32 campaign over the last 10 days, bringing the union's total spending to fight the measure to more than $20 million.

That's 40 percent of the $50 million the No on 32 campaign has raised so far.

Tuesday's filings with the Secretary of State also show that several firefighter unions contributed about $140,000. The San Diego Firefighters Local 145 gave a little over half the total, $73,260.

October 9, 2012
Unions say Prop. 32 campaign is hiding its expenses

The union-backed No on Proposition 32 campaign has filed a formal complaint with a state political watchdog commission over $8 million the measure's supporters spent on media ads last month.

The opposition group on Monday asked the Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate two Yes on Proposition 32 campaign committees, California Future Fund for Free Markets and the Small Business Action Committee PAC, No on 30/Yes on 32. The complaint alleges the independent pro-32 committees failed to disclose enough payment detail for TV and radio spots that started running in mid-September.

October 9, 2012
Blog back: The NFL refs, government worker ratios; the Prop. 32 debate

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

As the campaign contributions pour into the campaigns supporting and opposing Proposition 32 in the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election, debate over the measure has heated up on The State Worker:

October 8, 2012
Democrat Gloria Romero and Common Cause's Kathay Feng spar over Prop. 32

Former Democratic state Sen. Gloria Romero and Kathay Feng, executive director of Common Cause, faced off last weekend over Proposition 32 on "NewsConference," Southern California's local version of "Meet the Press."

Romero represented supporters of the measure, which would among other things ban payroll-deducted money from use for political purposes. Feng, whose good-government group supports the idea of campaign reform, represents the opposition.

The debate gets heated a few times, challenging the moderation skills of host Conan Nolan. The first segment runs seven minutes. The follow-up runs about five minutes.

View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.


View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.

October 5, 2012
Charles Munger contributions for, against initiatives reach $23 million

Charles Munger Jr. has now given a nearly $23 million to an independent committee fighting for a measure that would curtail union political fundraising abilities while opposing Gov. Jerry Brown's tax proposal.

Both initiatives, Proposition 32 and Proposition 30, respectively, go to a statewide vote on Nov. 6.

Munger, a Stanford physicist and the namesake son of billionaire Warren Buffet's long-time business partner, gave another $2 million on Thursday to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, according to a state filing that was released today.

William Oberndorf, the now-retired co-founder of the Mill Valley, Calif., investment firm SPO Advisory Corp., kicked in $1 million to the dual-purpose committee.

Munger's latest contribution follows $10 million donation from Munger earlier this week and two contributions last month that totaled $10 million. He's also given a total $873,000 directly to the Yes on 32 campaign.

RELATED:
Charles Munger doubles down to defeat Prop. 30, support Prop. 32
Charles Munger gives $10 million for Prop. 32, against Prop. 30

October 3, 2012
Charles Munger doubles down to defeat Prop. 30, support Prop. 32

Thumbnail image for checkbook2.gifCharles Munger Jr. has given another $9.9 million to a committee with a dual mission: defeat Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure, Proposition 30, and support a measure that is anathema to unions, Proposition 32.

A filing with the Secretary of State's office posted online this afternoon shows Munger gave the money to Small Business Action Committee PAC, No on 30/Yes on 32.

October 3, 2012
Charles Munger gives $10 million for Prop. 32, against Prop. 30

Thumbnail image for 120619 MungerJr_baer_2008.JPGNew filings with the Secretary of State show that Republican activist Charles Munger Jr. gave a little more than $10 million to a committee that is supporting Proposition 32, the campaign finance measure on the November ballot, and opposing Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30.

State records show that some of the money that went to the Small Business Action Committee was spent on a statewide advertising campaign that launched Tuesday. The committee opposing Brown's tax measure received $700,000.

Click here for more details on our sister blog, Capitol Alert.

PHOTO: Charles Munger Jr. / Sacramento Bee 2008 file

October 1, 2012
More voters oppose Proposition 32 than support it, poll says

Another poll shows that Proposition 32 is losing support among voters.

The latest survey by the University of Southern California Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times shows 44 percent opposed the measure which would cut off payroll-deducted money from use in political campaigns. Researchers found 36 supported the measure. The remaining 20 percent of voters surveyed said they were undecided.

The USC/Times research almost exactly mirrors the results of a Field Poll survey that found the No on 32 side leading 44 percent to 38 percent with 18 percent undecided. A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll yielded similar voter reaction.

September 25, 2012
From the notebook: The Field Poll numbers on Proposition 32

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Several blog users have asked for more of the data that informed our Friday story in the Bee about a Propostion 32 voter survey by the Field Poll and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

What follows is the statistical breakdown and analysis by the Field Poll's Mark Dicamillo and Mervin Field, including the results of a question on pension reform. Scroll to the bottom of the document for the poll's methodology and the exact wording of the questions asked.

If you want to go even deeper, we've also embedded the poll tabulations that break out responses by subgroups such as geography, ethnicity, education level and age.

September 24, 2012
Unions contribute $3.48 million to anti-Proposition 32 campaign

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100806 ballot-box.jpgThe American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees contributed $1.5 million to defeat Proposition 32, part of $3.48 million given by labor unions and politicians within the last week.

The campaign supporting the campaign finance-reform initiative raised about one-tenth over the same period.

September 21, 2012
From the notebook: What other polls say about Proposition 32

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our story in today's Bee looks at the latest polling on Proposition 32 by the Field Poll and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. The results showed 44 percent against, 38 percent for and 18 percent undecided.

But that wasn't the only survey on the state campaign finance reform measure released this week. On Wednesday the Public Policy Institute of California said that its most recent polling shows 49 percent of likely voters in the state said they will vote no on the measure. Of the other voters polled by the nonpartisan institute, 42 percent said that they will vote for the measure and 9 percent said they were undecided.

September 20, 2012
Column Extra: More about unions' and business interests' political spending

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our column in today's Bee cites data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan organization that tracks the path of political cash in California and other states, including money spent by labor unions and business interests.

We choose to look at contributions in 2010 for today's column because that's the last election year for which there is complete data. The institute uses quarterly reports from the California Secretary of State, so the figures for this year didn't include many of the biggest contributions for and against Proposition 32 that have come in since the end of June. Those numbers will be released early next month. We'll post them here.

On a related note, starting today we're tapping into an automatically-updated Proposition 32 contributions widget that will appear whenever we blog about the measure. The widget, left, comes courtesy of Maplight.org, another nonpartisan group that tracks political spending in California and elsewhere.

September 19, 2012
Poll: What do you think of Proposition 32?

You've read the stories, columns and the blog posts. Maybe you've talked about it with your friends, family and coworkers. Now weigh in on Proposition 32:


September 14, 2012
Conservative organization gives $4 million to Proposition 32

With a single donation, a conservative group with ties to the Koch brothers has doubled the money backing a ballot measure that would hamper union's 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 measure has several provisions, but labor groups are most concerned about its 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.

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.

September 12, 2012
See who's supporting Proposition 32

Supporters of Proposition 32, the campaign contribution measure on the November ballot, have raised about 10 cents for every dollar raised by their opponents, according to data from the Secretary of State's office.

The spreadsheets below detail the nearly $3.2 million in contributions given to the Yes on 32 campaign. To see breakdowns of the $35.8 million donated by opponents, nearly all of it union money, click here.

Labor organizations blast the initiative as faux campaign reform that would cut off their chief means of raising political money. Although corporations would come under the same restrictions, the measure wouldn't curb their political resources to the same degree, because they raise most of their funds through executive contributions and company treasuries.

Supporters counter that the measure limits political contributions to the fullest degree allowed by law, that it reflects federal standards and that it would limit the flow of money -- and the influence that goes with it -- from both labor and business interests.

September 11, 2012
See who's fighting Proposition 32

The spreadsheets below, downloaded from the California Secretary of State's filings this morning, detail $35.8 million in contributions to the No on 32 campaign.

Labor organizations have made defeating the measure a top priority this fall, since it would squeeze their political spending resources. The measure would ban payroll-deducted monies from use for political purposes, cutting off unions' chief means of raising such funds. Corporations would come under the same restrictions, but the measure wouldn't impact them as significantly since they play in politics with money contributed by executives and companies' funds.

We're posting this spreadsheet in response to several blog users' requests that we make the information easily accessible. We'll soon publish the details behind the funds raised by the Yes on 32 side, which amounts to a little more than $3 million.

September 6, 2012
Teachers' union gives nearly $7 million to fight Proposition 32

The California Teachers Association has donated $6.95 million toward defeating the November ballot measure that would squeeze funding for unions' political efforts.

A state report filed today shows that the union gave the money on Wednesday. The donation pushes the union-backed No on Proposition 32 campaign to about $35.7 million. Of that, the teachers' union has given $16 million so far.

Proposition 32 supporters have raised about $3 million.

The measure would ban unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. It also bans direct campaign contributions by either interest group. Both sides could continue funding independent expenditure campaigns.

Labor unions have made defeating the initiative their top priority. They rely on payroll-deducted member dues to build their political war chests, including money for independent expenditure efforts. Corporations use contributions from executives and funds from their company treasuries to play in politics, so the measure wouldn't hit them as hard.

August 20, 2012
Survey: More than 55 percent of voters favor Prop. 32

120816 Prop 32 survey.JPGMore than half of California voters favor Proposition 32, according to new poll by the California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University, although the support for the measure has declined in the last two weeks.

The decline is probably tied to the union-backed No-on-32 radio ads that launched statewide during that period.

The university and business association have been running bi-weekly online polls on ballot measures since mid-July. Click here to see more detailed test results from Aug. 12 to Aug. 15 poll.

Note: The first July polling on Proposition 32 gauged participants' reaction to the initiative's title and summary. Subsequent polls used the measure's label, which is the wording that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

GRAPH: courtesy California Business Roundtable

August 17, 2012
Charles Munger Jr. gives $635,035 to Proposition 32 campaign

Palo Alto physicist and frequent GOP political donor Charles Munger Jr. has contributed another $635,035 this week to back a campaign finance reform measure, according to recently filed state records. It's his second six-figure donation to the Proposition 32 campaign in three months.

Munger, whose namesake father has made billions of dollars as an investment partner of Warren Buffett, has backed a number of Republican candidates and causes, including California's successful redistricting reform initiatiative, Proposition 20.

In May, he gave $237,000 to the pro-Proposition 32 campaign.

The measure goes before voters on Nov. 6. It would ban unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidates, although both could still fund campaign efforts that run independently. Another provision would prohibit either group from using payroll-deducted money to fund those independent expenditure campaigns, which would choke off organized labor's chief source of political funding. Corporate campaign and candidate contributions come from executive donations or company treasuries. The measure wouldn't affect those donor sources.

Aug. 16 Yes on Proposition 32 contribution report

August 14, 2012
Union chips in $2.5 million to fight Proposition 32

Service Employees International Union has put another $2.5 million into defeating Proposition 32 , a November ballot measure that would alter how political campaigns are financed in California.

The donation came from SEIU's California State Council of Service Employees Issues Committee, according to state records filed on Monday, bringing the total contributions to the No on 32 campaign to about $19.5 million.

Between contributions from its issues committee and from SEIU Local 1000, the union has now kicked in about $3.5 million to defeat the Nov. 6 ballot proposal.

The Yes on 32 campaign has taken in about $4 million so far.

The measure would ban unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. It also bans direct campaign contributions by either interest group. Both sides could continue funding independent expenditure campaigns.

Labor unions have made defeating the initiative their top priority because they rely on payroll-deducted member dues to build their political war chests, including money for independent expenditure efforts. Corporations use contributions from executives and funds from their company treasuries to play in politics, so the measure wouldn't hit them as hard.
Aug. 13, 2012 Late Contribution Report -- Proposition 32

August 13, 2012
Court issues split decision on Proposition 32 language

A Superior Court judge in Sacramento has rendered a split ruling on a lawsuit contesting the language that describes a campaign-finance measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Judge Michael P. Kenny refused to strike a key sentence in the Proposition 32's title and summary that a proponent sued to take out -- although the court agreed with the measure's supporter that some words in Proposition 32's label needed to be strengthened.

Fights over initiative language are common. The titles and summaries appear in the state's voter pamphlet to describe ballot initiatives. Voters see initiatives' labels on the ballot when they vote. Both are written by the attorney general's office.

Kenny refused to strike this sentence from the measure's title and summary: "Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition."

It's a key point that the Yes on 32 side wants to downplay while unions have seized on that fact to blast the measure as a veiled attack on labor that would leave corporate interests relatively untouched. Unions depend on payroll-deducted money to play in politics, whereas as corporations get funds from individual donations and company treasuries.

He did agree to change words such as "limits" and "restricts" to "prohibits," as the strikeouts show in this snippet of the amended title and summary:



About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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