Koch Brothers' Spending Exposes the Real Agenda Behind Prop 32
By Steve Smith
To many, the billionaire Koch Brothers are the embodiment of a problem that plagues our electoral system in an era of Citizens United: big money from anonymous sources manipulating elections. The Kochs web of Super PACs and front groups are expected to spend $400 million on elections this year alone to promote their anti-worker, big corporate agenda. The Kochs are known for many things, but "campaign finance reform" sure isn't one of them. In fact, most observers point to the Kochs' free-wheeling campaign spending through shadowy front groups as THE REASON we need real reform.
So, to some, it may seem counterintuitive that a front group with ties to the Kochs just dropped millions of dollars into the effort to pass Prop 32, which its backers describe as a measure to "stop special interests." Wait, why would the Kochs back a measure that is allegedly about "stopping special interests" when they're among the most notorious special interests in the country? Because Prop 32 isn't what it seems. In fact, it's been described as a "fraud," "phony" and a "sham." It benefits secretive corporate Super PACs like the Kochs and Karl Rove run, while eliminating the voices of teachers, firefighters and other workers.
Last week, it was reported that the American Future Fund (AFF), a front group for corporate special interests that's linked to the Kochs, dropped $4 million to the effort to pass Prop 32. American Future Fund is an Iowa-based "advocacy organization" backed primarily by oil interests and directly linked to billionaire oil tycoons Charles and David Koch. As a 501(c)(4) organization, AFF does not disclose its donors and can receive unlimited contributions, according to Factcheck.org.
No on 32 campaign spokesman Brian Brokaw:
If any doubts remained about who is truly behind Prop 32, we now know with absolute certainty. The very same corporate special interests who carefully exempted themselves from Prop 32 and who stand to benefit from its passage – Big Oil, billionaire businessmen and the Super PACs linked to the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove – are now spending millions to pass Prop 32 and advance their interests at the expense of everyday Californians. That's because the Koch Brothers, Rove, and the rest of the Super PAC billionaires know that if Prop 32 passes, they will have even more political power to write their own set of rules.
Yes, it all comes into focus now. The Koch Brothers aren't interested in reform. All they're interested in is taking out workers (like they helped do in Wisconsin) so that the big corporate machine can steamroll over the middle class. Prop 32 isn't about reform. It never was. Its backers are billionaires and corporate special interests that are trying to rig the system to their favor while the middle class pays the price. And now with the Kochs stepping out of the shadows to drop big money into the effort to pass it, Californians have a crystal clear understanding of what this is really about – and what the consequences are if it this deceptive measure passes.
Californians should be on high alert: shadowy out-of-state front groups like the "American Futures Fund" don't swoop into California elections unless they have a very specific agenda. Any Californian who cares about critical issues like cuts to our schools and colleges, environmental protections, police and fire response times, consumer protections, and unfair corporate tax giveaways – should reject this crass attempt by Super PAC billionaires and Big Oil to pass Prop 32 and give themselves free rein in California's political system.
Steve Smith is Communications Director at the California Labor Federation, which represents more than 2 million union members in manufacturing, retail, construction, hospitality, public sector, health care, entertainment and other industries in the state of California. This article was originally published at Labor's Edge.