This is a breakdown of each CA Proposition as researched by Debra Dowdy. She has taken the time to research the facts as given by the Ballot Initiatives and information available on ballotpedia.org. At the end of the description, she and I give our vote for each Proposition. There is also a linkable list of Propositions at the bottom of the post. We hope this will help you learn more about these important initiatives. Please leave a comment with your thoughts and vote!
CA Proposition 59. Corporations. Political Spending.
- Background first on citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission.
There are two kinds of contributions to politicians.
1) Direct contributions. Giving directly to a candidate. It’s subject to dollar limits. Corporations/non-profits/unions cannot do direct contributions for federal offices.
2) Independent expenditures. Giving money to influence voters provided there’s no coordination with the candidate or campaign. An example is making a TV commercial urging you to vote for X but without X’s involvement in the making of the commercial.
Before 2010 federal law limited corporation/non-profit/unions’ ability to make independent expenditures in federal elections.
Citizen’s United made a film called “Hillary: The Movie.” Was this “electioneering communication” as defined in the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act and, therefore, illegal? The Supreme Court decided in a 5 to 4 decision to strike down this provision in the McCain-Feingold Act because it violates free speech. They said that government cannot prevent citizens or “associations of citizens” from exercising free speech. Also, since there’s no way to distinguish between corporations and media, without this, governments could suppress newspapers, television, etc. ’cause they’re corporations too.
As a result, political contributions and spending are free speech and protected by the First Amendment. Corporations/non-profits/unions are “people” too and and can make independent expenditures without limit. This applies to federal, state, and local governments.
So this has opened the gates to letting them give unlimited amounts of money (i.e., buy politicians). That’s not fair, right? I don’t have the kinds of money needed to buy a politician. How am I supposed to fight this? The court said that since the disclosure requirements weren’t overturned, the public should be diligent in determining who/what is supporting a particular candidate. Good luck with that. (Separate but related thought…does this have something to do with the Clinton Foundation? Those contributions that were routed through Canada that doesn’t have disclosure requirements? Could someone please check into that?) We are a government of, by and for the people. Not corporations.
Next argument before the court might be one of privacy for the donors and disclosure rules might be out. I digress.
Must admit I’ve been a bad conservative because I thought this decision was a disaster and the beginning of the end for America. As I researched this, I’ve had to consider the argument about newspapers, etc. being corporations too. I don’t want government being able to limit political editorializing on the news and in the papers because they are corporations. Also, the supporters of this proposition are Democrats and unions and I’m not usually in that company. Hmmmmmm….
So back to the proposition. A yes vote means we want our Legislature to encourage the U.S. Congress to pass an amendment (details to follow later) to the U.S. Constitution that would reverse this court decision. We are advising them of our opinion only. They don’t have to do what we advise them to do.
Vote as you wish. It’s all meaningless anyway. Since all politicians benefit from independent expenditures, I don’t see them fighting to hard against it anytime soon.
Instead, let’s vote for presidents that will nominate justices that might overturn this ruling. Let’s vote for legislators who will push for campaign finance reform and full disclosure. Let’s take back government of, by, and for the people.
Debra Dowdy is voting –
Chris Dowdy is voting – No
Links to all other CA Proposition for the 2016 Ballot: