Friday, April 18, 2014

Los Angeles "Ethics panel wants more public funding available to candidates"

Quoted in this one in the Los Angeles Times. 

Los Angeles' Ethics Commission is calling for an increase in public funding available to candidates seeking city office.

The city currently provides $2 for each dollar a candidate raises in primary elections, and $4 for each dollar contributed in two-way runoffs in general elections.

On Thursday, the panel recommended the city match be increased to $6 in both primary and general elections.

"You want to allow people to talk to constituents, not just donors, and I think that increasing the match will reduce the amount of time you have to spend fundraising," said Jessica Levinson, vice president of the commission and a professor at Loyola Law School.

She said that publicly financed programs are designed to reduce corruption, and as more office-seekers agree to abide by campaign spending limits to receive the money it should decrease the degree to which "money controls the game." 

The city paid approximately $10 million in matching funds to candidates in the 2013 elections.
The commission also announced it would no longer enforce aggregate contribution limits on individuals giving to city and school board candidates as a result of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The high court found limits on total giving to multiple candidates by contributors unconstitutionally infringes on their free speech rights. 

City caps on what donors can give to individual candidates will remain in effect. Those range from $700 to $1,300 per election, depending on the office. Because of that and other city regulations, the effect of the Supreme Court decision may no be as significant in Los Angeles as some other jurisdictions, Levinson said.  

The proposal to boost public funding of city campaigns, which must be approved by the City Council, would bring L.A. in line with New York City, which matches contributions at a six-to-one ratio. 

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