Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, Chronicle Columnists
Published 8:55 p.m., Sunday, October 21, 2012
Thanks to Proposition 32 – the measure that would bar unions from automatically deducting members’ dues for political purposes – the role of special-interest money is a front-and-center issue in the current campaign.
Although conservatives say union money is corrupting the political process, a new study by the nonpartisan group California Common Sense shows that business has ponied up far more cash in recent years to influence elections in the state.
In all, business interests have pumped $1.7 billion into California campaigns since 2000, outspending labor by more than 3 to 1, the group says.
More than $1 billion of the business money has gone into initiative campaigns, such as the successful effort to defeat a ballot measure last year that would have increased the cigarette tax by a buck a pack. The rest has gone to candidates for office.
During the same period, organized labor – mostly public employee unions such as the California Teachers Association and Service Employees International Union – poured $507 million into state campaigns. A little more than half went to ballot measure fights, and $213 million went to candidates – mostly to Democrats.
One of the biggest recipients of union money was Gov. Jerry Brown. Labor donated $40 million to Brown for his 2010 campaign, helping to offset the $144 million that Republican rival Meg Whitman spent out of her own pocket trying to win the governor’s job.
Chief’s court date: San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White has been ordered to appear in court Nov. 13 to answer why she should not be held in contempt for refusing to pay $46,000 in back alimony and legal fees to her ex-husband.
The chief, who is already having her wages garnisheed to the tune of $3,300 a month for spousal support, was served with papers Tuesday.
“This is a very difficult situation,” Hayes-White said. “I was under the impression that I was meeting all of my obligations. I had no idea this was coming.”
The contempt citation centers on the chief’s failure to come up with 14 months of back alimony for her ex-husband, Robert “Sean” White.
“Basically, she just stopped paying,” said his attorney, Bradley Kass of San Mateo.
The couple were married for 16 years and separated in 20o5. Hayes-White told us that she cut off her ex after he grabbed and choked one of the couple’s three sons in a booze-fueled rage.
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