Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Tuesday blasted the backers of a state ballot initiative that would ban automatic deductions from employee paychecks by unions or corporations for political spending, accusing the campaign of misrepresenting his position on the measure.
Under Prop. 32, unions and corporations would be required to get members and employees, respectively, to authorize such payroll deductions in writing on a yearly basis.
The initiative would also ban unions and corporations from directly contributing to candidates or their campaign committees and would ban government contractors from contributing to elected officials or the committees of elected officials.
The mayor said he opposes Prop. 32, but the “Yes on Proposition 32” campaign used his name and quotes to make it look like he supports the ballot initiative.
In a letter to the “Yes on Proposition 32” campaign, Villaraigosa accused organizers of waging a campaign based on “deception and blatant disregard for the facts.”
A video on the campaign’s website displayed a quote from Villaraigosa describing an effort by the California Teachers Association to block a state bill that would have made it easier for school districts to fire teachers accused of molesting students.
Villaraigosa called the union’s effort “cynical political manipulation.” The Yes on Prop 32 campaign framed the quote as supportive of the ballot initiative, which would limit the union’s ability to spend on political issues like the bill in question, he said.
“It is a cynical and disrespectful manipulation of the initiative process,” Villaraigosa wrote. “Your dishonest actions are a preview of what California voters should expect if Proposition 32 were to pass: political distortions and falsehoods in the service of secret donors with hidden agendas.”
Villaraigosa addressed his letter to Ashlee Titus, an attorney with Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, who advises clients on political campaigns. Titus was not immediately available for comment.
Villaraigosa said he adamantly opposes Prop. 32.
“Prop. 32 purports to be about ‘stopping special interests.’ In fact, Prop. 32 strengthens the political power of corporate special interests and SuperPACs while silencing the political voice of California’s everyday heroes –such as teachers, firefighters and nurses,” the mayor wrote.
The mayor closed his letter with a demand for the backers of Prop. 32 to remove his name and words from existing and future voter communications.