Nava's paycheck protection hypocrisy

JUNE 15, 2010


If Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, has his way, the days of corporate-funded political campaigns like failed Propositions 16, backed by PG&E to halt competition from municipal utilities, and 17, sponsored by Mercury Insurance to provide insurers with additional rate latitude, might be over soon.

In a press conference Monday, Nava introduced the bill that would require corporations to notify all shareholders of political expenditures and their intended company benefits.  If a shareholder objects, he would get his portion of the political expenditure back in the form of a dividend (that presumably will be taxed like all other dividends.)

“Decisions to use corporate funds for political funds and expenditures are usually made by corporate boards or executives, not shareholders, who are the real owners of the company…shareholders have a right to know how their money is being spent,” Nava told the press.

Note that the Assemblyman does not mention political activities of unions. In fact, during his failed run for attorney general, Nava described a similar measure for labor unions, called Paycheck Protection, in ominous terms: “As Attorney General, I will use the office to make sure that all ballot measures are represented to the voters in an honest manner. For example, the title and summary of the so called ‘Public Employee Paycheck Protection Act’ must clearly discuss that the initiative substantially reduces or eliminates labor unions from participating in the political process thereby giving big business an advantage over working class Californians.”

In unions in California, workers are not given the opportunity to opt out of paying union dues entirely.  How is the corporation-shareholder relationship any different?  If anything, a shareholder has more freedom than a union worker — if he doesn’t like what the corporation is doing, he can sell his stock and invest wherever the grass is greener.

Nava warns the press that if his law were currently enacted, shareholders of Valero would be informed of their company’s intent to stop an environmental safeguard in November. But, clearly, Nava doesn’t want union members to be warned of their unions’ efforts to promote various initiatives and candidates.

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