Matching Fund Program-Campaign Donation Restriction Measure on Ballot
LA City Council voted to add a measure to the March 2011 ballot on increasing the Matching Fund Program for political campaigns as part of Councilmember Huizar's election reform package.
- Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (1888PressRelease) December 01, 2010 - The Los Angeles City Council voted 11-4 Tuesday to place a measure on the March 2011 ballot that would allow more money to be used for the City's matching fund program voters first approved in 1990 in order to limit special interest influence. Another important part of the ballot measure would impose restrictions on campaign contributions from those vying for City contracts.†
The measure was presented by Councilmember Josť Huizar and Council President Eric Garcetti.† The matching fund proposal was part of the Los Angeles Voters' Bill of Rights, an election reform package created by good government groups and Councilmember Huizar with assistance from Council President Garcetti.
"Los Angeles residents have already told us they support a more diverse candidate pool when they voted to support our Matching Fund Program in 1990," said Councilmember Josť Huizar. "After 20 years, that system needs to be updated if we want to support serious candidates who are not beholden to special interest. This good government ballot measure will do that while restricting campaign contributions from those looking to do business with the City."
The ballot measure will ask L.A. City voters to lift the current Public Matching Fund Program Trust Fund cap, which experts say is necessary if the City wants to increase the number of serious candidates using the City's matching fund program. If voters pass the ballot measure to remove the cap, currently a little over $12 million, that vote will enable significant changes in the City's matching fund program designed to increase the number of qualified candidates, particularly citywide ones, to compete against heavily financed candidates. An amendment was added to the measure allowing the City Council to partially tap into the fund during City fiscal emergencies.
Since 12 votes weren't secured Tuesday, the item will require one more second-reading majority vote in a week.
Currently, the City's Matching Fund Program is limited in the amount of funding that it can offer candidates for office due to limited resources, which ironically is one of the main reasons why the fund is currently at its cap. Since the passage of Proposition H in 1990 created the Ethics Commission and the City's matching funds program, 2009 was the first year that none of the leading candidates for Citywide office agreed to participate in the program.
Enhancements such as increasing the current 1-to-1 matching ratio for citywide candidates, will be needed to entice the expected candidates for the Mayor's office in 2013 to participate in the City's program, which sets spending limits for candidates and also requires public debates. There are also a number of Council seats that will be open in both 2013 and 2015 due to term limits and added funding would allow for increased matching fund limits in those races.
"City Council, led by Councilmember Jose Huizar and Council President Eric Garcetti, did the right thing by putting this measure on the ballot to give voters a chance to start addressing the problem of special interest money in politics," said Trent Lange, President, California Clean Money Campaign. "Strengthening the City's campaign trust fund so it can provide more matching funds to candidates who show a broad base of support will let candidates spend less time fundraising and more time talking with voters."
With the increase in Independent Expenditures (IEs) this election cycle on the federal and state levels the ability of the City to help candidates targeted by IEs with matching funds becomes all the more important.
Previously the City Council voted unanimously to adopt Councilmember Josť Huizar's legislation calling for Vote-by-Mail elections in the City's next available Council seat Special Election. The plan would also leave open all polling places so voters can either vote-by-mail or vote in person on Election Day. Following the Council seat Special Election, the City Clerk's office would determine the number of people who participated via Vote-by-Mail vs. those who voted in person. The City Council could then use that data to determine how many polling places they would need to keep open in order to expand Vote-by-Mail in future elections.
Councilmember Huizar's election reform package, the Los Angeles Voters' Bill of Rights, has the support of several good government organizations, including California Common Cause; League of Women Voters of Los Angeles; California Clean Money Campaign and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project.