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I am a nurse and I know how wealth is valued over the health of my patients with today’s recreation of an aristocracy born of speculation and no sense of community values

The San Francisco Chronicle today disclosed that corporations outspend unions by at least 3-1 to dominate elections and public policy in California, according to a nonpartisan group called California Common Sense.

Since 2000, business interests alone have poured an obscene $1.7 billion into California campaigns to sway candidate and initiative campaigns. Imagine a world in which that money might have gone to our schools, or healthcare, or creating jobs, and you get a sense how wildly corrupted our political system has become, aided by disgraceful court rulings that big money equals free speech.
That substantial current advantage is apparently not enough for the giant corporations, billionaires, and clandestine super political action committees that are funneling tens of millions of dollars into a campaign to pass the deceptive and dishonest Proposition 32 which would effectively end the ability of unions to compete at all in the electoral arena.

Save Pediatrics - Kaiser Hayward
California nurses urging a "No on 32" vote during Hayward picket Saturday

And, while unions have also been forced to spend a lot of money to protect the rights of California workers to have a collective voice in Sacramento, it is the heavy spending campaign of those who already have such pervasive influence on our elections who believe no one should be allowed to stand in their way.

The high rollers have already unleashed at least $44 million into the campaign for Prop. 32 to further tile the playing field in elections in their favor.  

Here’s the prime sources of that tidal wave of cash:

•    Charles Munger, Jr., $23 million. Munger, a Stanford physicist who aspires to be the kingmaker of Republican politics in California, presumably derives most of his overflowing war chest from his father, Charles Munger, Sr., vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation, and one of the richest men in the world. Insurance, including Geico, is a primary source of Berkshire’s activity, and thus the Munger wealth.  
•    Wall Street bankers, venture capitalists, and other speculators, $6.7 million.
•    American Future Fund, $4.08 million. AFF is a far right political action committee backed primarily by oil and energy interests is linked to the notorious Koch brothers.
•    Arizona-based Americans for Responsible Leadership, $11 million.

Despite their profligate spending in trying to bludgeon voters with their ample wealth, none of these major donors has been willing to come out of the shadows to talk publicly to Californians about why they think only corporations, super PACS, and billionaires should have a voice in politics.

The most recent in this rogues gallery, Americans for Responsible Leadership, has been attracting some, for them, unwelcome notice in recent days with California reporters digging to uncover any information about why an Arizona group would spend $11 million to further stain California’s already corrupted political process.

Like the other clandestine super PACS, ARL hides its donors, prompting California Common Cause to ask the state Fair Political Practices Commission to investigate if ARL, and the so-called Small Business Action Committee PAC, the direct recipient of the cash, are violating state campaign disclosure laws.

"Voters, the media and watchdog organizations are sick of seeing out-of-state donors drop lots of last-minute money," said Common Cause lobbyist Phillip Ung. "We think they should stay out of California's business."
Who exactly is this shadowy group. Two recent reports provide a few clues.

California Watch discloses that ARL is led by Robert Graham, who calls labor unions "the parasite that is killing our jobs." Such anti-union rhetoric probably will help his campaign to become chairman of the Arizona GOP.

Graham also ran an unsuccessful campaign in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary, as a relative unknown, notes California Watch. He has a company called Freak Show Racing. And he is the author of "Job Killers," a book about "How Labor Unions are Destroying American Jobs and the Economy."

"Striking labor unions out of the business model is imperative to the economic success of today’s ever-changing marketplace," he said in a video promoting the book. "Then, and only then, will we truly be able to free ourselves of the parasite that is killing our jobs."

"It sounds like they are a front organization, and the real question is where do they get their money from." Arizona political analyst Michael O'Neil told California Watch.

The Arizona media is just as perplexed, as noted in this column by Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts:
"...who, you might ask, are the Americans for Responsible Leadership? I can't tell you. Americans for Responsible Leadership are also Americans Who Believe That You Don't Need To Know Who They Are, You Just Need To Vote How They Want.

And so, they have thus far funneled $450,000 into the campaign to kill the "top two" primary initiative, according to documents on file with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office. And an additional $500,000 into defeating Proposition 204, the sales-tax hike for education and roads."

The only other clue on hand is from an October 2011 video produced by ARL gushing over anti-union heart throb New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and pleading with him to run for President.

The presence of ARL in this election, along with the Koch brothers, and other well heeled national donors to Prop. 32,  illustrates the national stakes of the Prop. 32 campaign.  If they can win in California, they believe, the suppression of worker’s rights, perhaps best illustrated in the Koch-funded attack on workers in Wisconsin, will get a major national boost.

It’s up to all of us to make sure they don’t succeed.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's crazy. I discovered there are all kinds (5+ / 0-)

    of right wing consultants for hire in California just waiting to do California more damage.

    "We must be the change we wish to see in the world" - Gandhi
    "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little" – FDR

    by smokey545 on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 04:18:07 PM PDT

    •  These "right wing" storks are dropping... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      unwelcomed and selfish bundles of Kochie-monster cash from Arizona and beyond that will haunt main street voters for years to come, unless stopped.

      The Koch’s in-house campaigning for the GOP deregulation agenda is part of a larger trend of corporate giants exercising their right-wing-wrong-birds' rights under Citizens United.

      To keep long-standing important public health and safety laws in place Californians should exercise their right to mutual aid and protection by rejecting the Munger's-hunger for power, profit, and prestige by voting No on Prop. 32!

    •  Proposition 32- A hoax (0+ / 0-)

      We Californians got burned by another Republican , big money hoax,the Govenator, Arnold Schwarzenegger.  No, he didn't reform California anymore than his terminator movies are reality.  He, and his Republican backers, ran our state into the financial ditch and with Proposition 32 and the big money interests behind it, Republicans again, are trying to lay the ground work to re- take California and paint it red.

      Propostion 32 is a hoax and won't reform our poliitical system anymore than the terminator saved the free world.  It will take away financial power from unions, like CNA, and non-profits who will be unable to spend anything at all, while corporations and hedge funders get free reign.  It was bought and paid for by same special interests, like the Koch brothers ,who are trying like mad to buy the WH for Romney.  But, Sacramento isn't  for sale this time.  
      Propostion 32 is a hoax bought and paid for by the same special interests involved in buying the WH.    Meg couldn't buy it in 2010 and the Koch brothers and other hedge funders aren't going buy it either through this initiative.

      This is California where we believe in a level playing field, including in our politics ,where unions and non profits are out spent 3 to 1 in elections.  If 32 passes it ties our hands behind our backs.  

      Proposition 32 is a hoax.

  •  California is only blue... (7+ / 0-)

    as long as we maintain eternal vigilance.

    Sadly, there are many who would turn CA back into the breeding ground for psychotic Right Wing Politicians.

    Yes, I am embarrassed that we produced both Reagan and Nixon.

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 04:21:49 PM PDT

  •  Somehow "heart throb" and "Christie" in the same (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, silverthread, RN4MERCY

    sentence is a lot like "throw-up" and "dinner" in the same sentence.

    At least that's the effect it had on me:)

    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 Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 04:34:08 PM PDT

  •  The Gilded Age revisited...... (0+ / 0-)

    We are going backwards.....with big oil robber barons and all.  Let me not just pick on big oil....there are many others, and rules and regulations are not for them.   It is about greed and dishonesty, and thinking oneself better than the next person. It is the philosophy that profit is god....and the more profit one can pocket, the more exalted one becomes.  

    We are starving the "common good"in the name of profit.....the public sector....those persons who work for the common good......nurses, teachers, firefighters, law enforcement, public works (roads, bridges, sanitation), libraries, postal service, public schools....the list is long and I could go on..

    Why do I care...I am a nurse....the health of all peoples in all countries is rated by the World Health Organization.  The US ranks 37th in the world in good outcomes for the health of our population, yet we spend more than twice as much per person.  I see the results and consequences of our way of doing health business in the ICU in which I work.  

    We have disease care for profit in the U.S.
    And one can have all the health care one can afford.  

    I am hoping the people of California are smart enough to figure out that billionaires from many other states are funding Proposition 32. Thank you RN4MERCY listing them for us.  I shall be voting NO on 32.....I want my dues to be used in support of the "common good"....from where community health nursing evolved, and the California Nurse to Patient Ratios became law.....and which needs continuing defense against hospital associations and corporations who would like it to disappear.  But nurses are not going away.... advocating for health is what we do.

    Without a struggle, there can be no progress. .........Frederick Douglass

    by katnurseadvocate on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 12:32:02 AM PDT

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