FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sacramento, CA – California teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers today demanded the Fair Political Practices Commission act immediately to unmask the large corporate donors funding Proposition 75. The measure on this November's special election ballot is designed to restrict the rights of public employees to participate in the political process. The public employees spoke during the public comment portion of the FPPC's morning meeting.
CTA Board Member Eric Heins urges the Fair Political Practices Commission to require the hidden backers of Proposition 75 - the measure to silence the voices of public workers - to reveal themselves in time for the information to be included in the state's special election voter information guide.
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been secretly funneled into Prop. 75 to silence the voices of working Californians," said Ron Cottingham, President of PORAC. "We know their hidden agenda – to weaken public employees and strengthen the political influence of big corporations. The voters of California deserve to know who is funding this unfair and unnecessary measure."
In the first half of this year, the deceptively named Small Business Action Committee PAC, which just formed in late 2004, donated $555,000 to Proposition 75. During that same period, SBAC PAC sent a fundraising letter soliciting funds specifically for the Prop. 75 campaign. The California Republican Party has also donated $200,000 to the measure from unknown sources. In total, $755,000 or 85% of donations to Proposition 75 are unknown, likely from corporations and right-wing activist organizations.
"Corporations already enjoy an enormous amount of political power, outspending unions in politics nationally 24-1," said Eric Heins, member of CTA Board of Directors and Pittsburg elementary school teacher, referring to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. "By restricting the rights of teachers and other public employees with Prop. 75, corporations are greedily working to make this imbalance even greater. It's no wonder they are trying to hide their identities."
Since April, the Alliance for a Better California, a committee of public employee unions opposing Proposition 75, has filed five letters of complaint with the FPPC. The Alliance contends SBAC PAC should register as a "primarily formed" committee because if formed late last year and in 2005 has, according to their own correspondence, raised funds and collected signatures for initiatives on the November ballot, including Proposition 75. As a "primarily formed" committee SBAC PAC would be required to disclose their donors every 10 days – narrowly beating the July 25 deadline for inclusion in the official voter information guide.
"The FPPC has had months to act, and time is running out. You must act in the next 48 hours to ensure the voters of California know exactly who is supporting Proposition 75," said Dallas Jones, California Professional Firefighters. "We urge the FPPC to act now to ensure this vital information is included in the information guides voters rely on to make these decisions."
SBAC PAC is registered as a general purpose committee, so the identity of their donors will not be revealed by law until August 1, 2005 – past the July 25, 2005 deadline for the voter guides. The guides are mailed to voters this fall to provide them with information they need to make decisions on the numerous initiatives on California's November special election ballot.
"It is unfortunate the corporate special interests are arrogantly putting the voters of California on a need to know basis," said Cheryl Obasih Williams, RN, United Nurses Associations of California. "But when a secret group is trying to take away the rights of teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers to protect education, health care and public safety from the chopping block – California voters need to know who is behind it."