Monday, November 22, 2010

Victory for fair elections at Los Angeles City Council

The California Clean Money Campaign reports that after months of working with the Los Angeles City Council and years of CCMC and coalition efforts with the city, the council voted 11-4 on Tuesday to place a measure on the March 2011 ballot that would amend the city charter to remove the cap on the city's public financing Trust Fund, a key step towards both strengthening the city's current public matching funds system and eventually allowing the city to move to full Fair Elections public financing of campaigns.

The charter amendment, if passed, will also restrict campaign contributions and fundraising by bidders on certain city contracts and impose bans on future contracts for violators.

The council must still reaffirm the measure by a majority vote and CCMC has to work with the mayor to avoid a veto, but they've jumped this big hurdle to putting Fair Elections on the LA ballot.

Several AfD supporters are now organizing with the California Clean Money Campaign, including CCMC chair and former AfD council member Jo Seidita, Southwest regional rep and now CCMC San Fernando Valley coordinator Robin Gilbert, and CCMC Metro LA Coordinator Tobi Dragert.

Los Angeles currently has a partial public financing system, passed as a charter amendment by the voters in 1990, that requires the city to make an annual appropriation (currently ~$3 million a year), up to a cap (currently ~$12 million). In its first 16 years or so it worked well to help new candidates run for office and compete, but it hasn't kept up with the times. And, of course, to better lessen "the appearance of corruption" (as the Supreme Court would say), it really needs to provide full public funding for candidates. But the cap on the trust fund makes that impossible without going to the voters.

This measure will give voters the chance to remove the trust fund cap, a small but critical step towards full Fair Elections public funding of campaigns in the second largest city in the country and therefore a powerful example for the rest of the state.

CCMC thanked councilmembers Jose Huizar and Council President Eric Garcetti for their leadership putting Fair Elections on the LA city ballot, and Council members Ed Reyes, Paul Krekorian, Tom LaBonge, Paul Koretz, Tony Cardenas, Richard Alarcon, Herb Wesson, Bill Rosendahl, and Janice Hahn, for their "yes" votes. They also thanked fellow organizers CA Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of LA, and Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, as well as CCMC's many grassroots supporters.

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