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There's a lot of big money behind California's Proposition 32, which should tell you right away how much to believe its backers' claims that the ballot initiative is about getting money out of politics. Most recently, Charles Munger, Jr., the son of the vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, this week gave $9.9 million to a committee aimed at simultaneously supporting Prop. 32 and defeating Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure; Munger has now given a total of $20 million to those two fights. Meanwhile, good-government groups like the League of Women Voters are lining up against Prop. 32 along with the unions it explicitly targets.

Prop. 32 eliminates a key union fundraising tool. Then it restricts direct contributions to candidates by unions and some kinds of corporations. That's meant to look like "getting special interest money out of politics," in the hope that you won't notice that corporate big money could still put unlimited amounts of money into outside spending and Super PACs, while unions would have lost the ability to compete financially (to the small extent they currently do). California Republicans are hoping that if this passes, they'd finally be able to start winning statewide elections.

Munger is not the only super-rich guy supporting Prop. 32. According to Frying Pan News, the go-to source for reporting on who's behind this initiative, other major donors include major supporters of Prop. 8 and of education privatization via vouchers.

For instance, Larry T. Smith, "a prominent proponent of 'gay-to-straight' conversion therapy for minors ... personally donated $50,000 to help support Prop. 8 and funneled even more money to the campaign through his political action group, the Family Action PAC." Fellow Prop. 32 donor Howard Ahmanson gave $1.4 million to Prop. 8, as well as giving "millions to both creationist and school-voucher causes." Also on the school vouchers front, Timothy C. Draper has given $100,000 to support Prop. 32:

In 2000 Draper was the brains and the piggybank behind Proposition 38—arguably the most extreme school voucher effort in recent American history. The measure would have drained California public school coffers to give students up to $4,000 in taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for private schools. The bill included no means testing, so that children of privilege who were already attending California’s prep schools would be given an unneeded subsidy for their elite education.
Likewise, "Former Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio gave $1,040,000 to back Prop. 38 and to date has donated $250,000 to Prop. 32." He's also a big donor to Karl Rove's American Crossroads.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

The Yes on 32 campaign is working with the Dolphin Group, the Republican consulting outfit behind the Willie Horton ad:

According to the most recent filing statements published on the California Secretary of State’s website, Dolphin has received nearly $25,000 in consulting fees and expense reimbursements from the Yes on 32 effort. Dolphin Senior Vice President Elizabeth Hansell is personally involved in the Yes on 32 effort, taking part in at least one pro-Prop. 32 community forum in Kern County, and is referred to in campaign literature as Stop the Special Interest Money’s “Coalitions Director.”
The Dolphin Group has spent the years since the Willie Horton ad carrying out astroturf-style campaigns to, for instance, gut anti-smoking laws on behalf of the tobacco industry, kill living wage proposals, and prevent environmental regulation—exactly the kinds of campaigns that would gain ground if you left corporate money in California politics while drastically weakening the grassroots power of unions. Here's an example: In 2010, Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman outspent once and future Gov. Jerry Brown by nearly five times, thanks to her immense personal wealth. Brown, though, had a lot of help from unions, which are especially good at mobilizing voters on the ground. Jerry Brown has been far from perfect. But:
Except for her stated adamant opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy, Meg Whitman was largely short on policy specifics during her campaign. In 2009, however, she told the San Diego Union-Tribune that her first act as governor would be to suspend AB 32 — California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, citing its financial impact on California industry. [...]

The global sweep of AB 32 has made it a top target for multinational oil and petrochemical interests. In 2010, Big Oil banded together to launch Proposition 23—a California ballot initiative to nullify AB 32. Among the donors to the pro-Prop. 23 effort were the billionaire Koch brothers—whose Koch Industries subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, gave $1 million to overturn the law. Their efforts failed by nearly 25 percentage points at the polls. [...]

If Prop. 32 were to pass, repealing AB 32 would likely be at the top of the Koch brothers’ — and the rest of the oil/petrochemical industry’s — to-do list.

Passage of Prop. 32 could set off a domino effect, toppling not just good candidates but important bills, clearing the way for the passage of more and more terrible ballot initiatives as big business outspends working people and progressive voices by more than the already huge margin. Happily, a recent poll shows Prop. 32 trailing by eight points. But with opposition still well below 50 percent, this is going to be a fight to the finish.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 05:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by Dream Menders and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Problem Isn't That Some Billionaires Are Bad (9+ / 0-)

    It's that any billionaires are billionaires.

    There is such a thing as too much power in one place.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 05:59:29 AM PDT

  •  "Special Interests" - means nothing any more (10+ / 0-)

    This is another Republican maneuver.  Take a term that has some resonance for progressives (a term from the Progressive era, perhaps) and redefine it until it means nothing. The Governator really played a role in doing this when he described nurses, teachers and firefighters as "special interests" in his 2004 campaign, and here we have the culmination of that. Very Orwellian, this.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 06:07:20 AM PDT

    •  People addicted to euphemisms are also adept (3+ / 0-)

      at employing dysphemisms -- making something good sound bad.
      It's another way of perverting the truth.

      We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

      by hannah on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:03:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another word that lost its original meaning... (4+ / 0-)

      ...seems to be "entitlements";

      An entitlement is a guarantee of access to benefits based on established rights or by legislation. A "right" is itself an entitlement associated with a moral or social principle, such that an "entitlement" is a provision made in accordance with legal framework of a society. Typically, entitlements are laws based on concepts of principle ("rights") which are themselves based in concepts of social equality or enfranchisement.
      In a casual sense, the term "entitlement" refers to a notion or belief that one (or oneself) is deserving of some particular reward or benefit[1]—if given without deeper legal or principled cause, the term is often given with pejorative connotation (e.g. a "sense of entitlement").
      Repugs use it in its "casual" sense and by now most people appear to do the same.  Too many Democrats don't seem to have caught on.

      Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

      by Shockwave on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:03:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope the goofs who want big city school boards. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, wasatch be directly elected are taking note.

    You think corporations have too much power now? Wait 'til they can buy the school boards directly.

    Repubs started up the car, hit the throttle and sent it over the cliff, and now they're complaining that the black guy hasn't fixed it fast enough.

    by Bush Bites on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 06:27:53 AM PDT

    •  What makes you think they can't... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, wasatch

      ...just buy the mayoral election instead?

      With mayoral control, you only have to buy one person, and it's a lot harder for a small group of citizens to band together to kick the mayor out of office.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:01:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lots of work to do (8+ / 0-)

    Great post Laura!

    As the post says, there is a lot of work to do. We need to contact millions of voters, but it is a reachable goal with a great crew of volunteers. We have a huge field program, with locations across the state. You can find information for all of our events here:


    Feel free to post any questions here, I'll be monitoring the comments.

    Brian Leubitz
    No on Prop 32 social media coordinator

    Check out Calitics: California's progressive blog.

    by UTBriancl on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 06:30:58 AM PDT

    •  Next Saturday will be statewide "Day of Action" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Glen The Plumber, UTBriancl

      to canvass & phonebank on Props 30 & 32.  Check out your local Dem campaign office, CTA/SEIU or other affiliated labor union to get out information to voters in your area.  

      Vote by mail ballots go out next week.

      Walk and knock.

      Dial and talk.

      Do one or both....just do it.

      Rinse and repeat 10/27.

      In Sonoma County  go to Sonoma County Democrats for info on actions and regular phonebanking opportunities.

  •  That link... between Anti-Public School, (8+ / 0-)

    anti-Union, and homophobia by the Uberwealthy Christianists cannot be overemphasized. It is the primary reason why the "school reform" movement cannot be rationally adressed; it is a movement based on fear and hatred, conducted in secrecy, and financed by people who cannot stand the glare of sunlight. It is a New Inquisition forming, and the effects are already felt at the schools and districts around the country.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 06:40:08 AM PDT

  •  Chicago showed the billionaires... (6+ / 0-)

    ...that not everyone is for sale when the teachers and their allies beat back the worst of their anti-education attacks. But the fact still remains that we are playing defense, a kind of class siege warfare where they are coming at us from every direction and many of our battles seem to be fights for our very survival.

    Necessary yes, but when those battles are over, we don't have the luxury of a long rest. A short and satisfying celebration and a little R & R maybe, then it's back to work, analyzing and organizing so that eventually we can take the offensive and make some real gains.

    "Don't believe everything you think."

    by BobboSphere on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:01:04 AM PDT

  •  Yes on 30, No on 32 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Frog, wasatch, Shockwave, jakedog42

    Its that's simple.  

    •  "Maybe" on 31, by process of interpolation. N/T (0+ / 0-)

      Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

      by Rich in PA on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:53:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is more props (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Senor Frog, jakedog42

      Yes on 30
      No on 31
      No on 32
      No on 33
      Yes on 34
      No on 35  (?)
      Yes on 36
      Yes on 37
      Yes on 38
      Yes on 39
      No on 40

      I think I got them right.

      Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

      by Shockwave on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:08:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please vote YES on 40 (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Senor Frog, Shockwave

        40 was placed on the ballot by the state GOP to undo the new state senate map redistricting plan. In a quirk of CA law, you have to vote yes to uphold the maps, not no against the GOP plan.

      •  My Take (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        New to California  so I may be missing subtle issues on these Propositions.  My current votes will be:

        Yes on 30 (although, don't like sales taxes on food due to it's impact on middle and lower class, believes those two groups will benefit more in the long run)
        No on 31
        No on 32
        No on 33
        No on 35 (would give LE and Govt too broad of a definition on what is human trafficking)
        Yes on 36
        No on 37 ($$$ to close the barn door after the horses have escaped?  Would rather see businesses able to advertise their foods not being genetically modified and that definition tightened up.
        Yes on 38 (Not happy with the scale the proposition uses, again, impacts lower and middle class income earners more than upper class but ultimately benefits lower and middle class kids more than upper class children)
        Yes on 39
        Yes on 40 (Not entirely sure WTF is going on with this Proposition so after reading how the independent committee was set up, decided to go with what the voters initially approved.)

        I think more emphasis should be made on the laws enacted in California, Texas and New York in the news due to the broad implications of how the laws these state powerhouse implement affect the rest of the nation.

        If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it's not for the timid.

        by Senor Frog on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 10:04:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Senor Frog

          I just met some big Prop 37 supporter.  This is a tough one but I get your point.

          There are about 10 people that come to me for Prop advice.

          Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

          by Shockwave on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 11:22:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I don't understand. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Why can't consumers know what is in their food?

          In 1992, FDA said that GMO food should be labeled. But it dropped the ball.  

          Do you realize that for people with severe food allergies, this is a very serious issue? Corn may be cross-bred with peanut proteins. Over 85% of soy is GMO, but what is is cross-bred with? Do you know someone with a peanut allergy and how serious it is? That peanut allergies can be fatal?

          Why can't citizens simply know what is in their food?

          If California insists that food is labeled properly, then citizens in every other state will get the benefits of that. It's like cars. While some manufacturers still make 49 state emissions cars, and California emissions cars; many have simply gone to 50-state emissions cars to benefit the entire country.

          24 years after FDA said citizens have a right to know what is in their food, California is doing something about it, something that can likely reduce suffering, health care costs and save lives across the country, and even globally.

          The horses are still escaping and they're trampling every citizen in sight, especially children.

          What is that really worth?

          © grover

          Join Muppets Against Mitt! Go to to join now. This message brought to you by the number 2012 and the letters B and O.

          by grover on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 04:13:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, lookie here: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Monsanto donates $4.2 million to defeat California GMO labeling initiative

        Agribusiness giant Monsanto Co. donated more than $4.2 million to No on 37, a coalition of groups opposed to a California ballot measure that would require labels letting consumers know if foods are genetically modified.

        “The giant pesticide and food companies are afraid of the mothers and grandmothers who want the right to know what’s in our food,” said Stacy Malkan, media director of California Right to Know. “These companies will try to buy the election, but it won’t work. California moms and dads will prevail over Monsanto and Dupont.“

        All those nice university professors in the TV commericials? Call them and ask them how much they've received in grant money from agribusiness and industrial food.

        It's disgusting that at least one of these professors work at a California public university, is using the name of the public university in the ad and is intentionally misleading taxpayers.

        © grover

        Join Muppets Against Mitt! Go to to join now. This message brought to you by the number 2012 and the letters B and O.

        by grover on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 04:04:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rancid GOP your sell by date has passed... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It used to be that they would bury these little nasty details so deep in the minutia that you wouldn't find it until you started running afoul of it in practice. And their reaction upon it seeing the light of day was to explain it away as some necessary burden that somehow everyone was already feeling so don't complain...

    Nowadays they hide it with the thinnest veneer of a tame sounding title. And when the reality of it comes out you can see that it was always planned to be this lopsided and abusive when it was originally conceived. They make the smallest of attempts to blur the fact that they are being unethical and backroom dealing with corporations and billionaires for profit.

    What the hell happened to government being an open forum where if you got caught doing something dirty that you were run out of town! Now they just call you a Serious Conservative and pat you on the back.

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:39:58 AM PDT

  •  That's why we should tax the crap out of the rich: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elizabethgurley, snoopydawg

    these people have so much money that they are a danger to democracy itself.

    Maybe a "maximum wage" type of tax: for example, all income over $1 million per year should be taxed at the rate of 100%

  •  To be fair, if I thought that being a homophobe... (0+ / 0-)

    ....would make me a billionaire, I'd be sorely tempted. Especially if I could say that some of my best friends were gay.

    Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

    by Rich in PA on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 07:53:07 AM PDT

  •  Life (0+ / 0-)

    The world doesn't need billionaires....

  •  The ultimate ' Free Stuff ' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Mungers are the perfect reason for a nice big inheritance tax.

  •  Elementary education is being targeted (0+ / 0-)

    as the most recent venue for human husbandry.  Human husbandry is the exploitation of people by their own kind, to their detriment.
    In a sense, husbandry is an "improvement" over predation in that it saves the prey for use later, instead of consuming it on the spot.
    However, in turning the instinct to exploit against their own kind, the proponents of human husbandry are descending to a level lower than the beasts. Other species "know" better than to target their own kind for exploitation and destruction, whether sooner or later, because it puts the survival of the whole species in jeopardy. Humans should know better.  But it seems that a certain percentage are mal-formed and their cognitive faculties just make them smarter predators, not the creative creatures the Creator designed.
    How can the Creator have failed? Well, we already know he messed up with Lucifer, whose jealousy of creation knows no bounds because he was made immortal. Not wanting to make that mistake again, humans, whether good or bad, were made mortal.  So, the evil they do eventually has to end.
    We should, however, recognize by now that exploitative humans are bad news. Letting them exploit the children for monetary profit isn't any better.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 08:01:31 AM PDT

  •  The Republicans intend to destroy public education (0+ / 0-)

    in the United States.  Make no mistake about it. They will do it by cutting its funding sources wherever they can.  My property taxes have dropped dramatically over the past few years which will deprive the K-12 schools and especially the community colleges of a major source of revenue.  If the public education system is to survive, we are going to have to create funding sources that can't be cut-off by wing-nut legislatures.

  •  In NY Most Private Schools Run 25k-50+k (0+ / 0-)

    What is the point of a $4,000 voucher?

    •  The point is to drain the schools of money (0+ / 0-)

      The purpose is two fold:

      1) Drain the local school districts of money to operate so they will fall behind private schools even more (so they can be declared as "failing" and replaced with even more vouchers).    Every $4k that goes to a voucher is $4k the local schools don't get.

      2) Fund private schools that are run by the "right" people.    This allows them to fund religious and other schools of questionable character.   (See Louisiana:

    •  1. Additional revenue for church-operated schools. (0+ / 0-)

      2. Satisfaction for parents of private schools students who feel that they are "paying double" to support public schools with their tax dollars.

      These people have totally forgotten a fundamental principle:

      The purpose of public schools is not to educate your child.
      The purpose of public schools is to educate your neighbor's child.
      Those who cannot see the wisdom of providing a basic education to their children's peers - the next generation of taxpayers - really have their heads stuck the sand.

      Those who argue that the voucher will create educational excellence by turning families into "consumers", whose dollars the schools will compete for, have their heads stuck somewhere else.

      Have you noticed?
      Politicians who promise LESS government
      only deliver BAD government.

      by jjohnjj on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 10:16:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i'll bet numerous CA colleges helping push 32 (0+ / 0-)

    for the last 20 year the main vehicle for passing legislation like 32 is right wing talk radio. many of the loudest of those stations depend on their relationships with university athletics departments for community standing and advertisers.

    from the list of top footbal programs in the link below, fresno state and UCLA both broadcast sports on limbaugh stations that will likely be very loud in their communities at selling 32. the UCLA station may reach all of LA and suburbs. there may be many more CA colleges that also endorse pro 32 RW radio (non limbaugh).

    over the years RWTR has been instrumental selling similar crap all over the US and has been successful merely because liberals  ignore it.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 09:02:37 AM PDT

  •  Prop 32: A trap baited with sweet-smelling reforms (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Senor Frog

    Many otherwise sensible voters will be tempted by the bait.
    But the reforms are bogus.

    1. Prop-32 prohibits direct donations to candidates by business and unions.

    So what? those DIRECT donations are already limited the same trivial amounts as individual donations ($4,300 for a legislative office, more for statewide and governor). Prop-32 does nothing about the millions channeled through indirect donations.

    2. Prop-32 prohibits donations by government contractors to candidates who have influence over the award or oversight of contracts to said donors.

    True... but only during the bidding period and the term of the contact. Before and after, contractors may spend freely. Worthless.

    Be sure to tell the "undecideds" that Prop-32 isn't simply bad for unions... it's so-called reforms are toothless, and not worth tipping the current balance of power in favor of big business.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 09:07:55 AM PDT

  •  elections (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JGibson, jakedog42

    The biggest obstacle to the GOP in elections is union money and union votes. Get rid of the unions and the GOP wins more elections. Plain and simple.

  •  Ahmanson. Crikie. My county ALWAYS has the (0+ / 0-)

    bad guys in the mix.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 12:40:04 PM PDT

  •  A plague on both their houses! (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry when half the kids are not graduating and the half that do are functionally illiterate, it is a crisis.

    Who gets hurt worse the black and latino students or the teachers unions? The students. The teachers unions put their interests before the students and that is criminal.

    Making a profit for educating someone is also immoral. You are entitled to a livelihood not to enrich yourself and certainly not from the public purse.

    Teachers unions say give us more, cut back our hours and work days.

    At least the for profit guys have to answer to shareholders, teachers unions answer to no-one they are no better than gangsters and they hurt our country's future by crushing the quality of education.

  •  Wonderful as usual Laura (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the info about California.

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