Legislation authored by Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) to remove current law’s prohibition on public financing of campaigns was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
“Californians are demanding greater accountability from their elected officials, and rightfully so. Anything we can do to empower communities to reduce the influence of money in campaigns is a good thing,” said Senator Allen.
Local governments and the state are prohibited from adopting public campaign financing systems due to a provision that became law as part of Proposition 73 in 1988. While charter cities such as Los Angeles are exempt from the prohibition under the state Constitution, general law cities, counties, districts, and state government are covered by the current ban. The new law enacted today, SB 1107, does not create, or require any government to establish, a public campaign financing program; it simply restores the option for local governments and the state to do so.
“California’s leaders are hearing from voters who are fed up with playing second fiddle to wealthy special interests,” stated Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause. “SB 1107 gives Californians new options to amplify the voices of everyday voters in election campaigns.”
“Across the country, where these programs exist, Republicans and Democrats alike have found that they take the megaphone from special interests and give it back to the people,” said Gavin Baker, Open Government Program Manager for California Common Cause. “SB 1107 will empower Californians to decide the kind of democracy they want in their cities and their state.”
Currently, six charter cities have adopted limited public funding programs to match small campaign contributions. These programs provide candidates with an alternative to relying on large campaign contributions and amplify the voices of everyday Californians who make small donations.
SB 1107 includes another commonsense provision to increase election accountability. The bill requires elected officials, who under current law are banned from running for office due to conviction of certain felonies, such as bribery, to forfeit their campaign funds within six months, after paying debts or returning contributions, other than legal defense funds.
- Submitted by Colleen Beamish, Senator Allen’s office