Campaign Reform Update #4

May 29, 1998


With less than a week to go until the state of California votes on the paycheck protection ballot initiaitve Proposition 226, accusations about the proposition were flying hot and heavy from Proposition 226 opponents. While supporters insist Proposition 226 will simply protect workers' wages from being spent on politics without their permission, critics - organized labor in particular - falsely claim the proposal will hurt everything from public safety to donations to charity.

Californians are also receiving telephone calls from people asserting that Proposition 226 will endanger police officers. The callers claim the initiative will give public access to employee records, allowing revenge-seeking criminals to find officers' home addresses. Three California laws, however, specifically protect the release of personal information of law enforcement officials.

An interesting aspect of these calls is that callers said they were calling from phone banks in Florida, Nebraska and Oklahoma. A chief allegation of Proposition 226 opponents is that supporters are relying on out-of-state assistance.

Financial disclosure reports submitted to the California Secretary of State's office by the campaigns both for and against Proposition 226 show opponents of the paycheck protection ballot initiative have outspent supporters by a margin of more than 9 to 1.

Opponents of Proposition 226, comprised mainly of labor unions, reported spending $19.3 million. Supporters of Proposition 226 reported expenditures of $2.1 million.

Much of the money paying for the opposition campaign came from the political accounts of labor unions at the state and national level - some even coming from special dues assessments earmarked specifically for the campaign.

Polls show that the anti-Proposition 266 campaign has gained ground in recent weeks, cutting (according to a Los Angeles Times Poll released on May 23) Proposition 226's lead in the polls to 14 points. The poll found Proposition 226 leading by 51% to 37%.

Meanwhile, Congressional leaders in Washington were holding back on an anticipated debate and vote on campaign reform in the U.S. House of Representatives, preferring to see how Proposition 226 fared with California voters before undertaking campaign reform votes of their own.

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