Saturday, August 25, 2012

Supervisors approve campaign finance ordinance

Quoted in this article.

Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and local government expert, called the ordinance a "good appearance position" for the county. 

"San Bernardino (County) has had a bad reputation, in many ways earned, as basically having public officials who don't serve the public's trust," Levinson said Tuesday. "So I think that limiting campaign contributions and campaign disclosure is a step in the right direction. I think it sends a message." 

But Levinson feels the limits are still too high. She said campaign contribution limits for state legislators do not necessarily translate well for candidates seeking local office, whose campaigns may be less expensive and have a smaller pool of supporters. 

Tuesday's board action comes roughly a month after Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law another of Rutherford's proposals: to have the state Fair Political Practices Commission enforce the county's campaign finance laws. 

Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, backed the proposal and introduced the bill. 

"It's not right for us to try to appoint people to enforce our own ethics rules," Rutherford said Tuesday. "We need an outside watchdog - fair, independent, effective, nonpartisan - we believe we're going to get that in a contract with the FPPC." 

The county is still negotiating a contract with the state political watchdog, Rutherford said. 

Levinson said the county's move to have the FPPC enforce its campaign-finance ordinance is one of the most progressive things it has done in recent memory. 

"To me, if you're going to have these limitations and disclosure rules in place, you have to have some agency enforce it," Levinson said. "Unless there's an enforcement agency there, I'm not convinced there's any teeth to these laws and rules. I think it was a great decision."

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