REALITY CHECK

Ballot measure: Proposition 32

The measure would prohibit unions from collecting members' dues for political purposes; corporations and unions would be banned from contributing directly to candidates or campaigns.

The campaign supporting the measure is now running a 30-second TV ad in major media markets in the state.

What's the claim?

"If you had a telephoto lens, maybe you'd see it: deals cut in shadows and back rooms. With contributions, big corporations and government unions control politicians. It's killing California. Eleven percent unemployment. High taxes. Lavish pensions. Billions in waste. Fifty billion dollars a year on education, but among the worst-performing schools."

Is it true?

The claim is a gross exaggeration.

The ad tries to capitalize on Californians' general disgust with influential interest groups. But it's hard to prove a direct link between the money that corporations and unions lavish on the political system and everything that's wrong with California. To be sure, the clash of special interests is at least partially to blame for Sacramento's dysfunctional government. But it's hard to place all of the blame on one side -- labor interests -- which is the unspoken but clear thrust of the pro-32 campaign.

What's the claim?

"Cut the money tie between special-interest lobbyists and career politicians. Put people back in charge."

Is it true?

The claim is political rhetoric. The measure would no doubt cripple the ability of public employees to raise political money. But it would do nothing to keep special-interest money flowing to the Capitol from powerful wealthy individuals and limited liability companies. The irony is that the ad was paid for by the American Future Fund, a 501(c)4 group with ties to Americans for Prosperity, the super PAC funded by David and Charles Koch, the conservative billionaire oil tycoon brothers.

-- Steven Harmon, Staff