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What’s Wrong With the Stop Special Interest Money Now Act?

Peter Dreier tells Laura Flanders why he thinks Californiau2019s Stop Special Interest Money Now Act is really a sneak attack on unions.

Part of the Series

When Californians go to the polls on November 6, they’ll be asked to vote yes or no on Proposition 32, also known as the “Stop Special Interest Money Now Act.” Sounds great, right? But our guest Peter Dreier says the name belies the true intent of this bill.

“It’s a fraud,” Dreier says. “It’s really a corporate power grab being called campaign finance reform…. And it’s an attempt to put labor unions in a straightjacket.”

Proposition 32 would prohibit both corporations and unions from contributing money to political campaigns, and would ban the collection of “political funds” via payroll deduction from both union members and corporate employees. Catch #1: Payroll deductions are unions’ only source of political funds. Corporations don’t typically use them, instead spending from their corporate treasuries. And while union members can opt out of payroll deductions for political purposes, shareholders are often kept in the dark about corporate political spending. Catch #2: The act is full of loopholes. LLCs, partnerships and real estate trusts are all exempt. Catch #3: It only bans donations to political campaigns — but as we all know, the big bucks now often go to super PACs rather than directly to the candidates.

“It’s very self conscious,” Dreier says. ”They did this very purposefully to allow billionaire right wingers and insurance companies and hedge funds to continue to fund their causes in California. And if this wins in California, this will have ripple effects throughout the whole country.”

Dreier also talks about his new book The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. (Full disclosure: Bill Moyers is one of the hundred.)