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Politicians rake in $1 billion in past nine years

A new report from the California Fair Political Practices Commission shows that politicians seeking state office have collected a staggering $1 billion in campaign dollars since voters capped contribution levels in 2000.

It’s either an argument for public financing of campaigns or the complete abandonment of restrictions that don’t seem to be stopping the flow of special-interest money into politics.

Here’s what the FPPC had to say a few minutes ago:

A new report released today by the state’s campaign finance watchdog revealed that politicians vying for legislative and statewide office raised more than $1 billion since voters capped the size of direct campaign contributions.

The Fair Political Practices Commission’s report, “The Billion Dollar Money Train,” illustrates how officeholders and candidates use a variety of means to legally circumvent contribution limits enacted by Proposition 34 in November of 2000.

“The $1,006,638,463 directly raised by officeholders and candidates works out to $344,503 per day or $14,354 per hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” emphasized FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson, “and this doesn’t even include the more than $110 million spent on their behalf in so-called ‘Independent Expenditures!'”

The report examines the explosive growth of candidate-controlled committees and how tactics used to exponentially increase fundraising activity by legislative and statewide officeholders and candidates disregards the spirit of voter approved contribution limits. Over $720 million was raised within these limits, but millions more were raised using methods that most people are unaware.

Members of the Legislature and statewide elected officials raised nearly $150 million-including individual contributions larger than $2 million-into candidate-controlled ballot measure committees since Proposition 34 took effect.  Additionally, they raised more than $40 million in so-called “behested payments,” over $4 million into legal-defense funds and nearly $2 million into officeholder accounts.

“These methods allow candidates and officeholders to evade the intent of the People of California and this report will help increase awareness about the staggering amount of special interest money raised in California and foster a greater understanding of how they navigate around the voter-approved contribution limits,” Johnson stressed.

The complete report is available on the Commission’s website at www.fppc.ca.gov.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen