The Stop Special Interest Money initiative (SSIM), which has qualified for the November ballot, bans corporate and labor union donations to candidates and prohibits corporations, government employers and labor unions from deducting funds from paychecks to be used for political purposes. Public employee unions are rallying to oppose the measure saying its purpose is to undercut their power.
However, the first major shot fired by initiative supporters was not against labor but instead highlighted the political influence of AT&T.
A week ago Sunday, the Los Angeles Times featured a front-page story under the headline, AT&T Wields Enormous Power in Sacramento, detailing AT&T’s political contributions. The story said the company has spent $14,000 a day since 2005 on political activity and recorded some of the successes the company has had dealing with bills in the legislature.
SSIM took little time in producing a campaign video to hail the initiative as a remedy to counterbalance this Sacramento influence. The two-minute video, which you can watch here, uses the LA Times report to show AT&T as an example of special interest influence, including a shot of one-hundred dollar bills being piled into an open palm. The video highlights one bill, SB 1161, which a voice-over on the video says will allow phone companies to avoid a requirement to provide service to low income seniors.
The Times story gave SSIM proponents an opportunity to show that their measure is not aimed exclusively at public unions and the campaign jumped on it.