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Election 2012: Proposition 32

It’s time for the next story in our series on California’s 11 November ballot measures. Today, it’s perhaps the loudest fight on the airwaves: Proposition 32, which deals with union and corporate campaign contributions.

Prop 32 would ban direct campaign contributions from unions and corporations, and ban automatic paycheck deductions for political purposes. But rarely do two competing sides disagree so sharply about a measure's impact. Supporters said it would level California's political playing field by clamping down on special interest money. John Kabateck with the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a small business advocacy group, commented "let's give the average voter - the taxpayer, the small business owner - a voice. Stop the money in, favors out, pay-to-play way that things have been."

All good in theory, said Philip Ung with the public interest group Common Cause - if Prop 32 were real campaign finance reform. But, he said, it's not.

"We think it's a group of partisans trying to use campaign finance reform to go after an opposition group or a group that they simply don't like," said Ung.

Specifically: California's powerful public employee unions, who collect their dues using the same automatic paycheck deductions banned by Prop 32. And Steve Smith with the California Labor Federation said the measure is riddled with loopholes for everyone else, commenting that "what this would do is really tilt the balance of power even further toward those corporate special interests while shutting down the ability of working people to engage in politics."

But former Democratic State Senator Gloria Romero, who's clashed with unions over education policy, said Prop 32 is consistent, fair and democratic.

"It gives the power to the individual union member to decide for themself how they want to spend their political dues," said Romero.

Both campaigns have raised tens of millions of dollars and are slamming each other with TV ads - unions on one side, wealthy donors and Super PACs on the other.

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