As the November election draws closer, advocacy efforts are increasing – and the campaigns surrounding the California ballot initiatives are no exception. On the California ballot November 6 will be a campaign finance reform proposal imposing prohibitions on certain contributions from unions and corporations. Proposition 32, as it will appear on the ballot, would prohibit unions, corporations, and government contractors from using money deducted from an employee's paycheck for political purposes, i.e., for campaign contributions and other political activity. The initiative also would ban unions and corporations from making contributions to candidates or their committees, and would prohibit government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees. Proponents of the initiative say it cuts the money between special interests and politicians, eliminates loopholes, and makes all contributions voluntary. Opponents claim that Prop 32 is not reform, as it exempts corporate-funded Super PACs while applying the rule to unions, which use paycheck deductions as their primary method for collecting dues that then are partially directed to political activity. Those fighting the proposition say the initiative will not stop special interest money in politics, but instead will empower corporate political interests. A poll conducted by the Field Poll and the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, shows that 38 percent of likely voters surveyed support the measure, compared to 44 percent in opposition, and those opposed is expected to grow. Reports indicate that organized labor has raised about $40 million to fight Prop 32, while about $8 million has been raised by proponents of the measure.
On September 24, Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed into law a bill passed by the California State Legislature which harmonizes state and local rules for reporting independent expenditures (IEs), establishes a designated liable individual for IE committees, and enhances contributor disclosure for IEs. The bill brings local IE 24-hour reporting requirements in line with the state-level requirement that IEs of $1,000 or more must be reported within 24 hours in the 90 days before an election. The legislation also requires IE committees to name a principal officer responsible for the activities of the committee, and requires that individual to file a form with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) certifying that he or she has accounted for the receipts and disbursements of the committee. The bill extends the reach of media disclosure beyond the currently required disclaimer on broadcast and mass mailings, and provides that the top two contributors who have given $50,000 or more to a campaign also must be identified on other forms of media, such as newspapers and billboards.
A draft regulation offered by the FPPC would require itemized disclosure of payments made to individuals receiving compensation to post content on the internet on behalf of a campaign. As with existing disclosure requirements triggered by a committee expenditure of more that $100, or a subvendor expenditure of $500 or more, itemized reporting would be the responsibility of the committee making the payment. The blogger or individual posting on Facebook, on Twitter, or other social media venues or websites would have no reporting requirements. The FPPC has announced a public comment period on the rule, with a deadline of October 16.