Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Thursday, Jul. 17, 2014 – 9:25 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Jul. 18, 2014 – 6:52 am

The Legislature’s Democrats voted to place an advisory measure on the Nov. 4 ballot, asking voters whether Congress should pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s highly controversial ruling removing barriers on corporate contributions in federal campaigns.

This week, Gov. Jerry Brown allowed the measure, Senate Bill 1272, to become law without his signature.

It’s a dicey situation in several respects.

First of all, Brown warned, “I am not inclined to repeat this practice of seeking advisory opinions from the voters,” and lamented that it may “clutter our ballots with nonbinding measures.”

Thus, it was a bit craven for Brown to denounce the practice but allow it.

Secondly, while he decried “the corrupting influence of unchecked money in our democratic institutions,” Brown and other Democrats have not been shy about gobbling up corporate contributions for their political campaigns.

Thus, the legislation is more than a bit hypocritical.

Finally, it’s likely that crass political motives underlie the bill’s supposedly high moral tone.

There’s nothing in the state constitution or other state law giving the Legislature authority to place advisory measures on the ballot, although it did so twice before, in 1933.

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