Prop. 89 Supporters’ Unique Campaign;

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Campaign Finance Reform Initiative

KGO-TV ABC – San Francisco, CA

Backers of campaign finance reform have come up with a way of promoting their cause that is both unique and oddly familiar. A look at Proposition 89, the November ballot initiative that would limit campaign spending.

Prop 89 sets up a system to publicly finance California campaigns. Candidates that can come up with enough signatures and agree to the spending limits will receive public money to finance their run for office.

The proposition also limits the amount of money that some can spend on ballot measures. Backers of the proposition are promoting their measure with a video that reminds me of a story we did a couple of years ago.

In 2004 we did a story investigating who would attend a $3,200 a plate breakfast with East Bay State Senator Don Perata. None of the lobbyists going to that breakfast wanted to tell me their names. Some even ran away when we tried to photograph them.

Well, two years later, check out this Web video shot by the Yes on 89 campaign. It was shot last week outside a fundraiser for Assemblyman Rick Keene of Chico. He was charging $1,500 a head and serving donuts for breakfast. The woman from Proposition 89 is offering the lobbyists donuts for 89-cents.

In a similar stunt, the Yes on 89 campaigners also posed as reporters questioning the lobbyists as they ducked away.

The Yes on 89 campaign is being funded by the California Nurses Union. The No on 89 forces are being led by the California Chamber of Commerce.

Tony Quinn is a spokesman for the No on 89 campaign.

Tony Quinn, No on 89 Campaign: “It was written by the nurses in such a way that it punishes their opponents.”

Quinn is talking about one provision of Prop 89 that limits how much corporations can contribute on ballot measures. Chevron Corporation for example, is spending $12 million this summer to try and defeat Proposition 87 which would tax oil production in California. But there is no corresponding limit on unions.

Tony Quinn: “In this case you would get limitations on people that proponents of Prop 89 don’t like, but no limits on the people that they do like.”

Deborah Anne Burger is president of the California Nurses Association.

Deborah Anne Burger, CNA President: “The reality is that corporations outspend unions 13 to 1.”

Burger Admits that when it comes to ballot measures, Prop 89 does not hold unions to the same limitations.

Deborah Anne Burger: “We didn’t feel that it was actually necessary.”

The Yes on 89 campaign has put out a Web video explaining that a similar system is already in place in Arizona and in Maine.

The governor of Arizona says it’s working great. The No on 89 campaign says California is very different from Arizona in that we’re a lot bigger, it would be a lot more expensive and it would be paid for, if it passes, by a two-tenths increase in corporate taxes which is another reason that a lot of businesses and corporations don’t like it.

The measure is supported by government watchdog groups like Common Cause. The League of Women Voters and the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights are also recommending it.

But the Caifornia Teachers Union is against it, and you can read more about that in The Back Story.

Related links:

Yes on 89:

No on 89:

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