Lawmakers Tell Lobbyists to Do as We Say, Not as We Do
Lawmakers placed Proposition 15 on the June ballot. They titled it the “California Fair Elections Act of 2008.”
The measure requires lobbyists and their employers – irrespective of whether they work for private sector entities or local government – to pay an annual $350 fee that would be used to offer public financing for candidates for Secretary of State, who licenses lobbyists, among other professions.
To use these funds – some $6 million every four years – a candidate would need to get the signatures of 7,500 registered voters and have each contribute $5.
The state’s 1,239 lobbyists, 383 lobbying firms and 3,153 lobbyist employers object to being singled out to pay for this test run of public financing of political campaigns for two election cycles.
Among other things the proposition says:
“The current campaign finance system burdens candidates with the incessant rigors of fundraising and thus decreases the time available to carry out their public responsibilities.
“The current campaign finance system diminishes the free speech rights of non-wealthy voters and candidates whose voices are drowned out by those who can afford to monopolize the arena of paid political communications.
“The current campaign finance system fuels the public perception of corruption at worst and conflict of interest at best and undermines public confidence in the democratic process and democratic institutions.
“Existing term limits place a greater demand on fundraising for the next election even for elected officials in safe seats.
“The current campaign finance system undermines the First Amendment right of voters and candidates to be heard in the political process, undermines the First Amendment right of voters to hear all candidates’ speech, and undermines the core First Amendment value of open and robust debate in the political process.
“Citizens want to ensure the integrity of California’s system of electronically reporting lobbyist contributions and the integrity of future Secretaries of State to administer lobbyist disclosure programs. Voters would like the opportunity to elect a Secretary of State who has not accepted any contributions from entities or individuals that employ lobbyists.”
(Editor’s Note: Isn’t that the source of the “public financing?” Lobbyists and their employers?)
The author of the 2008 legislation that became Proposition 15, AB 583, is Sen. Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat.
Hancock is holding a March 24 lunch fundraiser at Chops Steakhouse just across the street from the state Capitol. She seeks anywhere from a $1,000 to a $3,900 contribution.
In fact, of the lower house’s 50 Assembly members, 34 voted for Hancock’s bill. Of those, as of March 5, 30 have already held their first fundraiser of 2010.
Of the 17 Senate Democrats who voted for Hancock’s bill, 12 have held fundraisers during the current legislative session.
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