Unions raise nearly $10 million to fight Prop. 32


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A coalition of California labor unions has raised nearly $10 million to fight Proposition 32, far outpacing the backers of the November ballot measure that promises to eliminate special-interest money in politics.

While the measure would prohibit both unions and corporations from contributing directly to candidates, labor leaders are more concerned about another provision in the initiative: banning the practice of political contribution by payroll deduction, the primary method unions use to raise political cash.


Unions representing firefighters, police and teachers are digging deep to fund the ‘No’ campaign, raising more than $7.6 million through June, according to records filed with the secretary of state’s office Tuesday. Since then, they have raised an additional $1.5 million.

The labor coalition had $6.5 million cash on hand as of June 30, having spent more than $1.7 million this year on online ads, focus groups, polling and political consultants.

If history is any indication, that kind of spending is only the beginning. In 2005, labor unions spent more than $44 million to defeat a similar initiative, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

By contrast, the ‘Yes on 32’ campaign is lagging far behind its opponents, having raised more than $1.7 million through June, record show. It had about $1 million on hand as of June 30.

The campaign, which describes itself as ‘supported by small business owners, farmers, educators and taxpayers,’ counts GOP rainmaker Charles Munger Jr. and television tycoon A. Jerrold Perenchio among its largest contributors. Thomas Siebel, the founder of C3 and Siebel Systems, contributed an additional $500,000 in July.



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-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento