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Politicians rake in $1 billion in past nine years

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Monday, April 13th, 2009 at 12:16 pm in Election reform.

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.

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  • RR

    The FPPC is a joke! Why don’t they hire some politicos who know their rears from a ground excavation!

  • KN

    Public financing is no better a solution to the problem than term limits supposedly are — both are gut reactions that don’t take time to consider the underlying structural problem that makes our state politics so reliant on special interests, and thus ungovernable when the Electeds get to Sacramento.

    The problem is the size of the districts. With 475k people in each Assembly district and 950k people in each Senate district, it should be no surprise that candidates require lots of money to win — that’s a lot of people to meet, yard signs to put up, mailers to send out, and tv eyeballs to reach. Additionally, it should come as no surprise that lobbyists and special interest groups hold so much power because, in addition to having access to lots of money, these groups are capable of mobilizing a mass of volunteers to knock on all those doors and help candidates cover such an immense territory.

    If we want to talk about real reform then we must talk about the number of districts we have. California has had an 80 Assembly/40 Senate apportionment since 1854, in spite of the fact that the population has grown by nearly 37million since that time nothing has changed. Not only is the size of current Assembly district nearly 4-times greater than the entire state population of California in 1854, the average Assembly district is also 3-times greater than that of the second largest lower State house (Texas comes in second at 160k to a House district, while New Hampshire is last at just over 3000 people per House seat).
    http://www.ncsl.org/programs/legismgt/elect/cnstprst.htm

    To break the power and undue influence that special interests have over our Legislature we must create more districts; there by lessening the need for these massive campaign war chests and volunteer armies, allowing the Legislator to spend all the new found time not spend at fundraisers as advocate for their district.