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State of California November 6, 2012 Election
Proposition 32
Political Contributions by Payroll Deduction. Contributions to Candidates
State of California

Initiative Statute - Majority Approval Required

Fail: 5,328,207 / 43.4% Yes votes ...... 6,940,282 / 56.6% No votes

See Also: Index of all Propositions

Results as of Dec 3 10:07pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (24491/24491)
Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Yes/No Meaning | Official Information | Arguments |

Should unions, corporations, government contractors and state and local government employers be prohibited from using payroll-deducted funds, or in some instances their own funds, for political expenditures?

Summary Prepared by the State Attorney General:

  • Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors.
  • Permits voluntary employee contributions to employer-sponsored committee or union if authorized yearly, in writing.
  • Prohibits unions and corporations from contributing directly or indirectly to candidates and candidate-controlled committees.
  • Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition.
  • Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or officer-controlled committees.

Fiscal Impact from the Legislative Analyst's Office:
Increased costs to state and local government--potentially exceeding $1 million annually--to implement and enforce the measure's requirements.

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote on this measure means:
Unions and corporations could not use money deducted from an employee's paycheck for political purposes. Unions, corporations, and government contractors would be subject to additional campaign finance restrictions.

A NO vote on this measure means:
There would be no change to existing laws regulating the ability of unions and corporations to use money deducted from an employee's paycheck for political purposes. Unions, corporations, and government contractors would continue to be subject to existing campaign finance laws.

Official Sources of Information
Arguments Submitted to the Secretary of State

Summary of Arguments FOR Proposition 32:
Prop. 32 CUTS THE MONEY TIE BETWEEN SPECIAL INTERESTS AND POLITICIANS to the full extent constitutionally allowed. Bans contributions from corporations AND unions to politicians. Prohibits contributions from government contractors. Stops payroll withholding for politics, making ALL contributions voluntary. NO LOOPHOLES, NO EXEMPTIONS. Vote YES to clean up Sacramento.

Summary of Arguments AGAINST Proposition 32:
Prop. 32 isn't reform--it exempts business Super PACs and thousands of big businesses from its provisions, at the same time applying restrictions on working people and their unions. It's unfair, unbalanced, and won't take money out of politics. The League of Women Voters urges a No vote!
Contact FOR Proposition 32:
Yes on 32--Stop Special Interest Money Now. Supported by small business owners, farmers, educators, and taxpayers.
(800) 793-6522

Contact AGAINST Proposition 32:
Chris Dombrowski; No on 32, sponsored by educators, firefighters, school employees, health care providers, police officers and labor organizations opposed to special exemptions from campaign finance rules for corporate special interests.
1510 J Street, Suite 210
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 443-7817

  Official Information

Secretary of State

Campaign Finance Data

Who contributes? What is spent?

Nonpartisan Information

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Arguments For Proposition 32 Arguments Against Proposition 32

Yes on 32: Cut the Money Tie between Special Interests and Politicians

Politicians take millions in campaign contributions from corporations and government unions and then vote the way those special interests tell them. Politicians end up working for special interests, not voters.

The result: massive budget deficits and abuses like lavish pensions and bad teachers we can’t fire.

Prop. 32 prohibits both corporate and union special interest contributions to politicians. NO EXEMPTIONS. NO LOOPHOLES. Individual Californians can contribute, not special interests!

Voters Beware:

Special interests have spent tens of millions of dollars to prevent Prop. 32 from cutting the money tie between them and politicians. They’ll say anything to protect the status quo.

They’ve invented a false, bogus, red-herring argument:

They claim Prop. 32 has a loophole to benefit the wealthy and corporations to fund independent PACs. The fact is both unions and corporations fund independent political committees protected by the Constitution that cannot be banned.

“Prop. 32 ends corporate and union contributions to California politicians. Period. No exceptions. It goes as far as the U.S. Constitution allows to end special interest influence in state government. I urge you to vote Yes on Prop. 32.”
—Retired California Supreme Court Justice John Arguelles


  • Bans corporate and union contributions to politicians
  • Stops contractors from giving to politicians who approve their contracts
  • Makes political contributions voluntary and prohibits money for political purposes from being deducted from employees’ paychecks


Politicians hold big-ticket, lavish fundraisers at country clubs, wine tastings and cigar smokers. Fat-cat lobbyists attend these fundraisers and hand over tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions. Most happen when hundreds of bills are up for votes, allowing politicians and special interests to trade favors:

  • Giving multi-million dollar tax loopholes to big developers, wealthy movie producers and out-of-state corporations
  • Exempting contributors from the state’s environmental rules
  • Handing out sweetheart pension deals for government workers
  • Protecting funding for wasteful programs like the high-speed train to nowhere, even as they are cutting funds for schools and law enforcement while proposing higher taxes


The Supreme Court recently said the political fundraising practices of a large California union were “indefensible”. (Knox vs. SEIU)

Prop. 32 will ensure that California workers have the right to decide how to spend the money they earn. They shouldn’t be coerced to contribute to politicians or causes they disagree with.


Today, it is legal for politicians to give contracts to political donors, shutting out small businesses in the process. Prop. 32 will end this special treatment and the waste it causes, like a $95 million state computer system that didn’t work. (CNET, June I2, 2002)

All of this Special Interest corruption will continue without your vote. Yes on 32!

GLORIA ROMERO, State Director
Democrats for Education Reform

Citizens for California Reform

JOHN KABATECK, Executive Director
National Federation of Independent Business—California

Rebuttal to Arguments For

Before you vote on Prop. 32, answer two questions: Would billionaires pay to place this on the ballot unless they were getting exemptions? When’s the last time a proposition backed by special interests in California didn’t contain loopholes or exemptions?

There’s always a catch, and Prop. 32 is no different.

Real estate developers, insurance companies and billionaire venture capitalists are just three groups EXEMPT from provisions of Prop. 32, while a union will no longer be able to contribute to candidates. In addition, huge corporate special interests can continue to spend unlimited money on politics.

Prop. 32 supporters claim workers are forced to contribute to politics or causes they disagree with. They aren’t. Current law protects workers from being forced to join a union or paying fees to unions for politics.

What’s really going on?

  • Major contributors to Prop. 32 are former Wall Street investors, insurance company executives and hedge fund managers—they’re EXEMPT from provisions of Prop. 32. Ask yourself why.
  • Other Prop. 32 funders own development companies that have sought exemptions from laws that protect our environment and neighborhoods. Prop. 32 EXEMPTS those companies too. Ask yourself why.
  • Business Super PACs and independent expenditure committees are EXEMPT from Prop. 32’s provisions.
  • Prop. 32 adds to the massive state bureaucracy, and costs Californians over a MILLION DOLLARS for phony reform.

The League of Women Voters opposes Prop. 32. It’s a thinly disguised attempt to fool voters into thinking it’ll improve Sacramento’s mess. In fact, it’ll make things worse.

California Clean Money Campaign
California Democratic Party
ROBBIE HUNTER, Executive Secretary
Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council

The League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause and the California Clean Money Campaign all oppose Proposition 32.

That’s because Proposition 32 is not what it seems. Prop. 32 promises “political reform” but is really designed by special interests to help themselves and harm their opponents. That’s why we urge a No vote.


  • Business Super PACs and independent expenditure committees are EXEMPT from Prop. 32’s controls. These organizations work to elect or defeat candidates and ballot measures but aren’t subject to the same contribution restrictions and transparency requirements for campaigns themselves.
  • A recent Supreme Court decision allows these groups to spend unlimited amounts of money. Prop. 32 does nothing to deal with that.
  • If Prop. 32 passes, Super PACs, including committees backed by corporate special interests, will become the major way campaigns are funded. These groups have already spent more than $95,000,000 in California elections since 2004. Our televisions will be flooded with even more negative advertisements.


Real campaign reform treats everyone equally, with no special exemptions for anyone. Proposition 32 was intentionally written to exempt thousands of big businesses like Wall Street investment firms, hedge funds, developers, and insurance companies. Over 1000 of the companies exempted by this measure are listed as Major Donors by the California Secretary of State. They have contributed more than $10,000,000 to political campaigns, just since 2009.


This measure says it prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. It says it also applies to corporations, so it sounds balanced. But 99% of California corporations don’t use payroll deductions for political giving; they would still be allowed to use their profits to influence elections. That’s not fair or balanced.

Just take a look at the official summary. You can see the imbalance from this line: “Other political expenditures remain unrestricted, including corporate expenditures from available resources not limited by payroll deduction prohibition.”


Many top contributors to Proposition 32 are former insurance company executives, Wall Street executives, developers, and big money donors to causes which benefit from Prop. 32’s special exemptions.

Sacramento has too much partisan bickering and gridlock. The money spent on political campaigns has caused all of us to mistrust the political campaign system. The sponsors of Proposition 32 are trying to use our anger and mistrust to change the rules for their own benefit.


Some say “this is unbalanced but it’s a step forward.” Here’s the problem with that. Restricting unions and their workers while not stopping corporate special interests will result in a political system that favors corporate special interests over everyone else. If you don’t want special interests in control of air and water safety and consumer protections, vote NO on Prop. 32.

Go to and see for yourself why Proposition 32 is not what it seems and will hurt average Californians. Vote NO on Proposition 32.

League of Women Voters of California
DEREK CRESSMAN, Regional Director
California Common Cause
DAN STANFORD, Former Chairperson
California Fair Political Practices Commission

Rebuttal to Arguments Against


They say they oppose Prop. 32 for WHAT IT DOESN’T DO. But they’re trying to stop it for WHAT IT DOES.

The fact is, Prop. 32 goes as far as the Supreme Court allows: It stops both corporations and unions from giving money to politicians. No exemptions. No loopholes.


  • For the 2010 elections, corporations and unions gave state politicians $48 million. If Prop. 32 had been in place, that $48 million never could have been given to candidates.
  • Never again will contractors give money to politicians who approve their contracts.
  • No more will corporations or unions take money from workers’ paychecks to spend on politics. Under Prop. 32, every employer and union will have to ask permission, and every worker can say no.

Big-money special interests are spending millions to stop Prop. 32. They refuse to lose their power over Sacramento.

Just one example:

When the LA school district couldn’t move quickly to fire a teacher for sexually abusing his students, it asked lawmakers to pass a law making it easier. But the state’s largest teachers union—which gave $1 million to politicians over two years—called in its army of lobbyists. They killed the reform.

LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called it “cynical political manipulation.” To the San Francisco Chronicle it was “sickening.”

Business as usual hurts real Californians.

Take the big money out of politicians’ hands. YES ON 32.

Former California Secretary of Education
JON COUPAL, President
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
California Supreme Court Justice (Retired)

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Created: December 17, 2012 13:48 PST
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