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Disconnected From Reality: Prop. 32's AT&T Ad




Newspapers across California are calling out Proposition 32—a ballot measure that would outlaw using automatic payroll deductions from union members and corporations for political purposes. Editorial writers and columnists charge the initiative is dishonest for positioning itself as an anti-corporate campaign finance effort — even as supporters of the initiative have recently taken to union-bashing to frame their arguments. However, for a period of several months over the summer, Prop. 32 backers did their best to fool Californians with a disingenuous Occupy Wall Street-inspired “fight the power” advertising campaign. Let’s take a look at some vintage Trojan Horse political advertising.

0 minutes 05 seconds – Nice special effects. Michael Bay is impressed.

0:16 – Does that briefcase combination read “666”? Perhaps the flow of “special interest” money into politics is a deal with the devil. Only problem: The devil is wearing a wedding band. Given that such Christian conservative Proposition 8 backers as Howard Ahmanson and Larry T. Smith are among the primary bankrollers of Prop. 32, we’ll guess that, in this case, the devil must be gay-married!

0:19 – Here’s a funny story: Billionaire Thomas Siebel, the man credited with paying for this advertisement, runs a technology company called C3, which has Condoleeza Rice and former Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham on its board of directors. So, yes, politicians do quite literally work for special interests—the interests behind Prop. 32.

0:26 – Charles Munger Jr. is personally spending more than $60,200 per day to pass Prop. 32.

0:32 – Prop. 32 backers love to demonize AT&T’s political spending. Probably because AT&T, (unlike, say, the Koch brothers, who toss comparable amounts of money around the political realm, almost exclusively to Republicans) actually support state Democrats in California. The Los Angeles Times story in question opens with a description of a fundraiser that raised $1 million for the California Democratic Party.

0:56 – Not going to stand up for AT&T on this one. However, it’s worth noting that the Koch brother-owned gypsum, pulp paper product and packaging company, Georgia-Pacific, is in the midst of lobbying to gut the regulations of California’s Green Chemistry Initiative—a 2008 law protecting California citizens from exposure to toxic industrial chemicals. Georgia-Pacific is an LLC (limited liability company), that, thanks to loopholes in Prop. 32’s language, won’t be hampered in the slightest by the initiative’s proposed restrictions. The Kochs have so far donated $4 million to support 32.

1:04 – We called AT&T to see if the company was for or against Prop. 32. Interestingly, the company’s Director of Communications, Lane Kasselman, told us AT&T has “no position” on the measure. Which seems kind of counterintuitive – if, as this ad suggests, the bill stands to completely cut off their access to channels of power in Sacramento. Wonder why is AT&T staying so neutral? Perhaps because 32 is a sham and won’t restrict its political influence in the slightest.

1:21 – Only individuals will be allowed to donate…plus LLCs, PACs, Super Pacs, 501(c)(6) corporate trade associations, politically motivated non-profits and corporations that don’t use automatic payroll deductions, which is all of them…You get the picture.

1:26 – “Special interest” count: Seven.

1:27 – Eight.

1:34 – Nine (16 if you include screen titles).

1:44 – Fade to black already. Whoever made this ad is the same kid in high school who had to triple-space and use size 14 font to finish his five-page papers.

1:50 – “Supported by small business owners, farmers, educators and taxpayers.” And by that we mean large corporations, chemical companies, management consultants and billionaires who don’t want to pay their taxes.

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