Koch brother pledge $4 million to pass Prop 32

Proposition 32 is intended by proponents to curb special interest funding by unions and corporations by prohibiting them from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes.

The fiscal impact, as stated in the official sampling ballot for the upcoming Nov. 6 election, is “increased costs to state and local government, potentially exceeding $1 million annually, to implement and enforce the measure’s requirements.”

Supporters of the initiative say that it’s a step forward for political reform, and that it will give voice back to California’s individuals.

“If you have a heartbeat and could go into a ballot box to vote, then you, not the big corporations or unions, should be the one determining the fate of your district,” said John Kabateck, California executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

“There are very specific agendas that these organizations have that don’t speak for the people they are expected to represent,” Kabateck said.

The NFIB serves about 20,000 small and independent businesses in California, and Kabateck said many of these business owners and other Californians are saying the same two things.

“Number one: They’re frankly uncertain about what tomorrow will bring them and their small businesses and families, and number two, they’re outright frustrated with the government that continues to be in gridlock and the government leaders who will not listen to them, but are instead choosing to place special interests above theirs,” Kabateck said.

The opposition to the initiative have been vocal in their efforts to prevent the measure from passing, citing how corporations do not use payroll-deducted funds.

“They use their profits to donate money. They use… super PACs or whatever donations they take from their profit,” said Jarret Lovell, associate professor of criminal justice.

“It’s a proposition by corporations to limit the voice of its labor unions. If this passes, you won’t hear from us. You won’t hear from anybody advocating for professors, students, administrative staff and for funding,” Lovell said.

Political science professor Shelly Arsneault said unions rely on payroll deductions and that without those payroll deductions, they are effectively silenced.

“Instead of having the ability of both labor and management to have a political voice, it’s taking labor’s voice out. All it does is silence one side,” said Arsneault. “It is inherently creating an imbalanced system that favors corporate money.”

Yet Kabateck argued that “depending on what the powerful special interest is, it could be argued that it’s not speaking for the actual person in that organization.”

Kabateck referenced the case last year when the Senate Bill 1530 would have made it easier for school districts to fire teachers in the cases of sexual or other egregious conduct. The bill easily passed in the senate before being killed by the California Teachers Association, a union in the Assembly Education Committee.

“If the CTA really cared about the kids, they wouldn’t be wielding their muscle to protect teachers in egregious cases like that. They would be working to get more money to the classroom,” Kabateck said.

In an Orange County Register article, Gloria Romero, the state director of Democrats for Education Reform, countered some of the arguments made against Proposition 32.

“Opponents argue that this creates ‘exemptions’ because other business entities that aren’t corporations could still give to campaigns. But when you look at how the federal government applies a corporate ban, every contribution from those entities has to be applied to an individual and is restricted to campaign-spending limits,” Romero told the Register.

In September, $4 million was donated by a group linked to the billionaire Koch brothers to pass the measure. The Koch brothers are the key figures who run Koch Industries, Inc., the second-largest private company in the country, according to a 2011 article by Forbes.

About Eric Farrell

Eric is a staff writer on the Daily Titan. Serving as a staff writer of the Daily Titan is a requirement for all Journalism majors.