Bookmark and Share
Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Koch Brothers’ Spending Exposes Real Agenda Behind Prop 32

by Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

To many, the billionaire Koch Brothers are the embodiment of a problem that plagues our electoral system in an era of Citizens United: big money from anonymous sources manipulating elections. The Kochs web of Super PACS and front groups are expected to spend $400 million on elections this year alone to promote their anti-worker, big corporate agenda. The Kochs are known for many things, but “campaign finance reform” sure isn’t one of them. In fact, most observers point to the Kochs’ free-wheeling campaign spending through shadowy front groups as THE REASON we need real reform.

So, to some, it may seem counterintuitive that a front group with ties to the Kochs just dropped millions of dollars into the effort to pass Prop 32, which its backers describe as a measure to “stop special interests.” Wait, why would the Kochs back a measure that is allegedly about “stopping special interests” when they’re among the most notorious special interests in the country? Because Prop 32 isn’t what it seems. In fact, it’s been described as a “fraud,”  “phony” and a “sham.”  It benefits secretive corporate Super PACs like the Kochs and Karl Rove run, while eliminating the voices of teachers, firefighters and other workers.

On Friday it was reported  that the American Future Fund (AFF), a front group for corporate special interests that’s linked to the Kochs, dropped $4 million to the effort to pass Prop 32. American Future Fund is an Iowa-based “advocacy organization” backed primarily by oil interests and directly linked to billionaire oil tycoons Charles and David Koch. As a 501(c)(4) organization, AFF does not disclose its donors and can receive unlimited contributions, according to

No on 32 campaign spokesman Brian Brokaw:

If any doubts remained about who is truly behind Prop 32, we now know with absolute certainty. The very same corporate special interests who carefully exempted themselves from Prop 32 and who stand to benefit from its passage – Big Oil, billionaire businessmen and the Super PACs linked to the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove – are now spending millions to pass Prop 32 and advance their interests at the expense of everyday Californians. That’s because the Koch Brothers, Rove, and the rest of the Super PAC billionaires know that if Prop 32 passes, they will have even more political power to write their own set of rules.

Yes, it all comes into focus now. The Koch Brothers aren’t interested in reform. All they’re interested in is taking out workers (like they helped do in Wisconsin) so that the big corporate machine can steamroll over the middle class. Prop 32 isn’t about reform. It never was. Its backers are billionaires and corporate special interests that are trying to rig the system to their favor while the middle class pays the price. And now with the Kochs stepping out of the shadows to drop big money into the effort to pass it, Californians have a crystal clear understanding of what this is really about – and what the consequences are if it this deceptive measure passes. 


Californians should be on high alert: shadowy out-of-state front groups like the ‘American Futures Fund’ don’t swoop into California elections unless they have a very specific agenda. Any Californian who cares about critical issues like cuts to our schools and colleges, environmental protections, police and fire response times, consumer protections, and unfair corporate tax giveaways – should reject this crass attempt by Super PAC billionaires and Big Oil to pass Prop 32 and give themselves free rein in California’s political system."

Learn more about Prop 32 at

Posted on 09/16/2012Permalink

More posts by Steve Smith

Reader Discussion

This is absolutely absurd. I believe we middle to low class need to step it up and get creative in fighting back on proposition 32!!

at 12:34 pm on Mon, Sep 17, 2012Posted by Joseph Sanchez

the time 2 expose this WOLFS in sheep’s clothes has never been greater. they’re not even wolfs.THEY give these majestic creatures a bad name. they are TRULY PATHETIC.

at 2:36 pm on Mon, Sep 17, 2012Posted by rita rios

Remember what the Koch Bros. tried to do the last time they put a proposition on the ballot. They wanted to weaken the clean air act and be exempt from it. We must remind every one who they are and make sure this prop gets voted down, also. Anything the Koch Bros. get behind is only to enhance their own pockets.

at 8:35 am on Sat, Sep 22, 2012Posted by Mitchell Matcovsky

Post a Comment

We welcome your comments on this article. Please complete the form below to add to the conversation.

Please Note: California Labor Federation reserves the right to edit or remove any comment that is deemed inappropriate, off-topic, abusive or offensive.

Thank you for participating in the public dialogue!


(required: will not be made public)

Remember my personal information

To help protect our site against spam, please enter the word you see in the image below:

Notify me of follow-up comments?