The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted Tuesday, November 15th, to move forward with a study on the feasibility and potential costs of implementing full-public financing of political campaigns for all elected officials in the City of Los Angeles.
Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, and Bill Rosen-dahl — who represents the local 11th District — proposed the reform.
Full public financing of campaigns would provide qualified candidates with a set amount of public funds to use to run for office.
Candidates who opt into the system would agree to limit their spending and reject contributions from private sources.
They would receive a public grant for both the primary and general elections if they successfully raised a required number of $5 contributions and signatures of support from residents within the district they hope to represent.
Candidates would have the option of rejecting public funds and would be able to run as “non-participating” candidates who commit to raising only private sources of funds.
Public financing is an alternative to campaigns funded by wealthy individuals and large private interests, supporters of the plan claim.
“Removing money from local elections creates a healthy political process in which candidates are free from the stranglehold of special interests,” Rosendahl said.
“Campaigns should be about people and issues, not financial muscle. ‘Clean money’ brings more credibility to our city’s leaders and returns politics and government to the people,” he said.
Full public financing, also known as “clean money,” has been credited with improving the level of civic discourse and decision-making, and leveling the political playing field in jurisdictions that have adopted the sys- tem, Rosendahl said.
The system of full public financing is already in place for state races in Arizona and Maine and has been adopted for city races in Albuquerque and Portland, Oregon.
California State Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, of Berkeley, has authored Assembly Bill 583 — the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act — to implement “clean money” election reform for statewide and legislative races.
The Los Angeles City Council motion directs the city chief legislative analyst to consult with the city clerk, the city administrative officer, the mayor and the California Clean Money Campaign and report its findings to the City Council in 90 days.
“It is tremendously exciting that the City Council has taken this historic action and begun a vigorous discussion of how we can best restore faith in city government,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of the California Clean Money Campaign.
“On the heels of the $250 million special election fiasco, our city is leading the way in California to reform the broken and money-soaked system we now have,” said Los Angeles city controller Laura Chick.
Information, California Clean Money Campaign, (310) 481-0814; Bill Rosendahl, (213) 473-7011.