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Special Interests

OPINION
August 7, 2011
An organization funded in part by a labor group, the California Building and Construction Trades Council, recently aired radio spots warning voters that they could become victims of identity theft if they signed initiative petitions. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor is staffing a call center to document sightings of anti-union petitioners. It's the next big thing for the initiative industry. The campaign begins now, in front of the supermarket, mall or post office, to frighten voters into ignoring petitions they might otherwise sign.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 14, 2011 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles officials could be forced to scale back a law intended to level the playing field in elections in which wealthy candidates spend large sums of their own money. Candidates for city office who agree to a limit on their campaign spending are currently eligible to receive public money, securing a dollar in taxpayer funds for every dollar they raise from private individuals. Those so-called matching funds provide a financial boost to candidates who run against politicians who tap their own fortunes to finance their campaigns, are backed by well-financed special interests, or both.
OPINION
July 8, 2011 | By Allan Luks
Among the many proposals to raise taxes and cut and reallocate government spending to regain our country's economic health, one of the most sensitive is decreasing the tax deductibility of charitable contributions. The independent Congressional Budget Office recently reviewed 11 options for revising the income tax treatment of charitable giving, and it grouped them into four categories. All establish a floor below which contributions would not be deductible. One proposal retained tax deductibility only for donations exceeding $1,000 per couple or, alternatively, 2% of a person's adjusted gross income.
OPINION
June 30, 2011
In striking down part of an Arizona public financing law, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court has once again shown its hostility to even modest attempts to reduce the enormous influence of special-interest money in elections. Under the law, candidates who opted in to the program and agreed to abide by spending restrictions would be given a lump sum to be used on their campaign. But that amount would be increased if an opponent who opted out of the program — or independent groups supporting such a candidate — spent beyond a certain amount.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
January 17, 2011 | By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times
It was billed as a radical transfer of power from the educational establishment to parents. It survived a furious opposition campaign. And after squeaking through the state Legislature by one vote last year, the "parent trigger" law made California history as the first successful effort to empower parents to force sweeping changes at low-performing schools. But now the fight has shifted to implementing the law, making its passage look almost easy. After months of debate and reams of revisions, state education officials were expected to vote last week to finalize details laying out how the law is supposed to work.
OPINION
January 8, 2011
At first glance it seems the ultimate quixotic effort: persuading the new, more Republican Congress to enact legislation to shine light on the role of special-interest money in elections. But campaign reformers might consider appealing to members of Congress allied with the "tea party. " Those in the movement profess to believe that "we the people" have been eclipsed in the political process by self-dealing politicians and bloated government bureaucracy. Might they be open to the argument that democracy is similarly subverted by corporate and union interests?
NATIONAL
October 17, 2010 | By Peter Nicholas, Tribune Washington Bureau
President Obama laid out a broad case Saturday for rejecting Republican candidates in the upcoming midterm elections, accusing his political opponents of cynically refusing to cooperate in difficult times while accepting help from secretive special-interest groups pumping millions of dollars into various campaigns. Obama spoke at a rally for a longtime political ally and friend, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is locked in a tough reelection campaign against Republican Charlie Baker.
NATIONAL
October 10, 2010 | By James Oliphant, Tribune Washington Bureau
While the "tea party" candidacies of Sharron Angle in Nevada and Rand Paul in Kentucky have garnered nationwide attention, the sheer bolt-from-the-blue power of the movement might be felt nowhere more strongly at this moment than in Wisconsin. Here, three-term Democratic Sen. Russell D. Feingold is suddenly battling for his political life against tea party-backed businessman Ron Johnson. Feingold's vulnerability has shocked Democrats and invigorated the GOP, which has new hope for regaining control of the Senate.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 8, 2010 | By Shane Goldmacher, Jack Dolan and Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
Shortly after sunrise Friday, state lawmakers brought California's longest-ever budget impasse to a close ? but not before stuffing their spending plan with last-minute favors for special interests. Lawmakers had worked through the night to move the budget package of more than two-dozen bills to the governor's desk. At 8:25 a.m., the state Senate passed the final piece of the spending plan. The vote came exactly three hours after the lower house approved the package. "Hey, it's daylight," state Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 6, 2010 | By Michael J. Mishak and Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
Donors with business before the state and corporate leaders poured millions of dollars into Meg Whitman's campaign in the last three months, potentially undercutting her claim that her personal fortune makes her uniquely free of special-interest entanglements, campaign disclosure reports filed Tuesday show. Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of online auction house EBay, raised more money from outside donors than her Democratic rival, Jerry Brown, whom she has criticized heavily for his dependence on support from the state's public employee unions.
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