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Padilla touts ‘blackout period’ for fundraising

California lawmakers would be prohibited from raising campaign funds in the final 100 days of a legislative session, under a state Senate bill announced this week.

Alex PadillaIt’s one of four campaign-reform bills put forth by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, who perhaps not coincidentally is a candidate for Secretary of State, which among other things is the state’s chief elections officer.

Padilla’s other three bills would tighten campaign contribution reporting requirements; prohibit candidates or officeholders from having more than one campaign committee for a state office at any one time; and require public disclosure of campaign communications.

Amending the Political Reform Act of 1974 requires a two-thirds vote of each legislative house plus Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, Padilla noted.

“Clearly, I cannot do this alone. I will need the support of my colleagues and the governor,” he said. “I believe that the reforms I am proposing will provide a clearer view of the source and use of campaign money, and reduce the likelihood of an unseemly overlap of public policy and campaign contributions.”

SB 1101 would emulate similar laws in 29 states by creating a fundraising “blackout period” of 100 days before and seven days after the end of a legislative session, during which a member of the Legislature could not solicit or accept campaign contributions. That way, Padilla reasons, that lawmaker couldn’t take money during critical budget votes and at the end-of-session rush when all sorts of last-minute “gut-and-amend” measures are up for votes.

SB 1102 would require contributions of $100 or more to be electronically reported within 24 hours during the 90 days before an election and within five business days during the rest of the year. For now, contributions of $5000 and above must be reported electronically within 10 days and contributions of $1000 and above must be reported within 24 hours within 90 days of an election. The requirement also would apply to independent expenditure committees supporting or opposing candidates for state offices, and to statewide ballot measure committees.

SB 1103 would prohibit an officeholder or candidate from declaring candidacy and raising money for more than one state elected office at a time; current law allows multiple simultaneous committees, which could be used to cumulatively raise far more than established campaign contribution limits.

SB 1104 would require all campaigns to electronically report all campaign-funded communications – mass mailings, slate mailers, and advertisements supporting or opposing a candidate or measure – that they do within 90 days of an election to the Secretary of State’s office within one day. Outside of the 90-day window, they’d have to be reported within five days.

“While our current system does provide full disclosure, it lacks timely full disclosure,” Padilla said. “Current law governing disclosure keeps the public and the press in the dark much of the year. Denying the public and the press timely disclosure fuels distrust.”

More, including a rival candidate’s critique, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014
Under: campaign finance, Election reform, Secretary of State | 3 Comments »

Campaign disclosure bill subject of Saturday rally

Proponents of pending legislation that would  mandate prominent disclosure of the interests and money behind political TV, radio, print, and slate mailer ads will hold a kick-off event Saturday in Oakland.

Members of the California Clean Money Campaign, State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and others will promote the California DISCLOSE Act, or Assembly Bill 1148, scheduled for committee hearing in Sacramento on Jan. 9.

The Oakland event will be held Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon, at  Oakland City Hall, Room 1, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Here’s the full notice:

Oakland Event Features California State Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski

 Oakland – On Saturday January 7th, California DISCLOSE Act supporters from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties will gather to hear Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski call attention to the non-partisan AB 1148, the California DISCLOSE Act. All are welcome at the event which will highlight the enormous impact of hidden ballot measure spending on California government and the need for better disclosure requirements.

AB 1148, authored by Assemblymember Julia Brownley, will mandate clear and prominent disclosure of who is behind political TV, radio, print, and slate mailer adds, on the ads themselves, for both ballot measures and independent expenditures for and against candidates. It will prevent special interests from hiding behind deceptive committee names by requiring ads to show their actual largest contributors.

The Field Poll released on October 13th of 1,001 registered California voters showed overwhelming support for the kinds of disclosure requirements in AB 1148. 84% said they favored legislation to “increase the public disclosure requirements of initiative sponsors to more clearly identify who are its major funders”. Support was across the board, including 78% of Republicans, 86% of Democrats, and 88% of Independents.

Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, the sponsor of AB 1148, will describe how the California DISCLOSE act works and outline the statewide campaign to pass the bill. Additional speakers include Michelle Romero of Greenlining Institute and our MC, Oakland City Councilmember Pat Kernighan.

AB 1148 will be heard and voted on in the Assembly Elections Committee on January 9th. Similar campaign kickoffs are occurring Palo Alto at the Unitarian Universalist Church for the Penninsula / South Bay Area on January 7th from 2 PM to 4 PM and in San Francisco at the San Francisco Main Library on January 8th from 2-4pm.

The AB 1148 Campaign Kickoff is open to the public – refreshments will be served. Free garage parking is available on Clay Street.

 What: AB 1148 Legislative Campaign Kickoff

Where: Oakland City Hall, Room 1, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA

When: Saturday January 7th, 10 a.m. to noon

Who: ALL ARE WELCOME!

Sponsor: California Clean Money Campaign. Co-Sponsors: California Common Cause, Greenlining Institute, League of Women Voters Oakland, League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley, League of Women Voters of Livermore – Amador Valley, League of Women Voters of the Eden Area and many others too numerous to be announced here.

The California Clean Money Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose vision is achieving an open and accountable government that is responsive to the needs of all Californians.

 RSVP to www.YesFairElections.org or 925-426-2412

Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
Under: campaign finance, Election reform | 3 Comments »

Political events roundup

Here is a roundup of political events and news:

Concord

Buchanan

Buchanan

Wilson

Wilson

The two candidates vying for California’s 15th Assembly District, Democratic Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and GOP challenger and San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson, have agreed to debate on Sept. 10.

Organized by the Contra Costa Council, the candidates will answer questions from a moderator and the audience at a luncheon set for 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Round Hill Country Club, 3169 Round Hill Road, in Alamo.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen, political columnist and reporter for the Contra Costa Times, will moderate the discussion.

Event co-hosts are the Engineering and Utility Contractors Association and IBEW Local 302, and the sponsor is AT&T.

The cost is $35 for members and $45 for nonmembers.

For reservations, call 925-246-1880 or fax 925-674-1654 by noon on Sept. 7. Visit www.contracostacouncil.com for more details.

The Contra Costa Council is a nonpartisan private sector, public policy organization with a membership that includes business, government, education and labor.

Livermore

Robert Rao

Robert Rao

GOP candidates invited to meet-up: All Republican Candidates for federal, state and local offices have invited to a Livermore ranch for a Sept. 25 meet-and-greet and fundraiser sponsored by the Alameda County Republican Party.

The 2010 Republican Roundup features a barbecue and live music on a working cattle ranch overlooking the Livermore hills. Invited candidates, who have not necessarily confirmed their attendance, include all GOP nominees from the U.S. Senate to governor and other statewide offices, along with Congress and the California Legislature.

The event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at the Rao Ranch on Mines Road in Livermore. Owner Robert Rao ran for the Assembly in 2008.

To RSVP, contact the Alameda County Republican Party at 510-638-3414 or info@alamedagop.org.

Pleasanton

The office of Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, is accepting internship applications.

Students interested in public policy, civics and government are encouraged to apply for the unpaid positions in his Stockton, Pleasanton and Washington, D.C., offices. Interns may also be eligible for academic credits.

College and postgraduate students are eligible to apply for any of his three offices. Applications from high school students are considered on a case-by-case basis for internships in the Stockton and Pleasanton offices.

To apply for a position in either the Stockton or Pleasanton office, mail or fax a cover letter and resume to the respective office. Mail delivery to D.C. is delayed due to security, so applicants are encouraged to fax a cover letter and resume.

The addresses and telephone numbers are as follows:

Stockton Office, Attn: Staff Assistant, 2222 Grand Canal Blvd., No. 7, Stockton, CA 95207. Phone 209-476-8552 or fax 209-476-8587.

Pleasanton Office, Attn: Staff Assistant, 5776 Stoneridge Mall Road, No. 175, Pleasanton, CA 94588. Phone 925-737-0727 or 408-744-0727 and fax 925-737-0734.

Washington, D.C., Attn: Staff Assistant. Phone 202-225-1947 and fax 202-225-4060.

Richmond

Gioia

Gioia

Contra Costa Supervisor John Gioia, of Richmond, seeks volunteers for the 27th Annual California Coastal Cleanup at Richmond’s Marina Bay on Sept. 25.

Gioia has volunteered since 1990 and his office reports that in 2009, hundreds of volunteers helped pickup everything from tires to cigarette butts and plastic bottles along the shoreline and marsh areas.

Other event sponsors include The Watershed Project, city of Richmond, and Citizens Shoreline Response Team.

The cleanup starts at 9 a.m. and free lunch will be served to the volunteers at noon. Meet at the Shimada Friendship Park at the end of Marina Bay Parkway.

For more information, contact Kate Rauch at 510-374-3231 or kate.rauch@bos.cccounty.us.

California

September is National Voter Registration Month and voters are reminded to check their registrations or send in their applications and vote.

The registration deadline is Oct. 18 in order to vote in the Nov. 2 general election.

To be eligible to vote, a California resident must be a United States citizen, reside in California, at least 18 years old by Election Day, not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction, and have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent.

A voter must re-register to vote after changing names, permanent residence or political party choice.

To check registration status, take advantage of a new feature on the Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status/index.htm for a list of county Web sites and phone numbers dedicated to registration verification.

People who would like to register to vote can download a form online at www.sos.ca.gov/nvrc/fedform/, print, sign and mail it. Californians can also pick up a voter registration form at any county elections office, public library or U.S. post office.

Voter registration forms, vote-by-mail applications and the Secretary of State’s “Guide to Voting” can be found in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog and Vietnamese at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_multi.htm.

The last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot is October 26. Use the application printed on the sample ballot booklet mailed by his or her county elections official or go to www.sos.ca.gov/elections/vote-by-mail/pdf/fill-in-vote-by-mail-app-instruct.pdf.

Sacramento

Bob Stern

Bob Stern

Center for Governmental Studies President Bob Stern, the former state political watchdog agency counsel who helped write the California Political Reform Act, will serve as co-chairman of a panel that will recommend changes to campaign finance laws.

Stern was appointed to the 25-member panel by the Fair Political Practices Commission to the Chairman’s Advisory Task Force.

He will lead in the panel with Republican political attorney Chuck Bell.

The panel has been asked to make the state’s complex 1974 Political Reform Act clearer and more accessible for candidates and the public, according to the FPPC.

Stern, who leads the nonpartisan Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies, is the co-author of a number of campaign reform proposals, including the initiative that established the Fair Political Practices Commission. He was the commission’s first general counsel, from 1975 to 1983, and previously served as an attorney for the Assembly Elections and Reapportionment Committee and the Secretary of State’s office.

Co-chairman Chuck Bell is the senior partner of Bell, McAndrews and Hiltachk, LLP. He has practiced election and campaign law for over 30 years, and was the founding chairman of the California Political Attorneys Association.

The task force is scheduled to unveil its recommendations January and the commission hopes to place its suggested revisions on the 2012 ballot.

Posted on Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, campaign finance, Contra Costa County, Election reform | No Comments »

New study shows pluses, minuses of open primaries

The nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles has released an excellent analysis of the impacts of Proposition 14, the open primary initiative on the June 8 ballot.

The authors’ chief conclusions support proponents’ arguments that open primaries could generate more competition, increase the number of moderates in elected office and boost the impact of nonpartisan, or decline to state voters.

But the experts also agree that it could hike the cost of campaigns and the role that money plays in elections.

Click here to read my news story.

Proposition 14, if voters pass it, will eliminate the party primary system in California. Voters could choose among all the candidates, regardless of party registration. The top two vote-getters would advance to the general election, also without regard for party affiliation.

A reluctant Legislature placed the measure on the ballot in exchange for then GOP state Sen. Abel Maldonado’s vote in favor of the 2009 California budget.

Predictably, the political parties hate it.

But proponents hail the measure as an essential governance reform that could lead to the election of more centrists and ease the political ideological polarization in Sacramento.

To read the 113-page report, visit www.cgs.org. The report contains a concise and very readable executive summary for the less wonky readers.

Posted on Thursday, April 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Election reform | 4 Comments »

League of Cities chief promotes initiative

League of California Cities executive director Chris McKenzie pumped his organization’s ballot initiative at last night’s meeting of the Contra Costa Mayors Conference.

McKenzie predicts the league will submit the required 1.1 million signatures ahead of the late April deadline and points out why he thinks it will pass muster with voters in November.

McKenzie’s best line of the night was when he compared the Legislature to 1944 existentialist existentialist play by Jean-Paul Sartre called “No Exit” and “Waiting for Godot,” atheater of the absurd play by Samuel Beckett.

We all laughed. We instinctively knew it was an insult. But some of us admitted to each afterward that we only had a vague knowledge of either “No Exit” or “Waiting for Godot.” (Yes, I googled the titles.)

Check out the video.

Posted on Friday, March 5th, 2010
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Election reform | 2 Comments »

Lakoff to headline voting threshold initiative fundraiser

George Lakoff

George Lakoff

UC-Berkeley Professor George Lakoff, expert in cognitive linguistics and author of “Don’t Think of Elephant!” is the featured guest at a Sunday event to raise money for a ballot measure that calls for reducing the California Legislature’s budget adoption threshold from two-thirds to a simple majority.

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, is hosting the event in Oakland on Sunday from 4-6 p.m. Click here for the invite.

Hancock authored SCA5, a bill that would place before voters in 2010 the opportunity to alter the threshold. If she is unable to secure passage of the measure in Sacramento, proponents plan to circulate the petition and gather the requisite number of signatures to place the question on the ballot using the initiative petition process.

The folks advocating for the change hope that voters’ unhappiness with the recent, drawn-out budget fight in Sacramento will see fit to make the reform. But opponents are expected to wage all-out war against the effort.

California is one of a handful of states with a two-thirds requirement to pass a budget. Critics say it allows a few members of the minority party to hold the budget hostage while advocates say it serves as a check on out-of-control spending.

Lakoff is an expert in what he calls framing, or the way advocates and their foes describe their positions and how those choices tap into the public’s attitudes about everything from taxes to political parties.  Lakoff has said that while Republicans have mastered the art of framing, Democrats have fallen behind. But several years ago, Democratic Party leaders sought help in framing their messages from his book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate.”

Posted on Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, Election reform | No Comments »

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!’”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 13th, 2009
Under: Election reform | No Comments »

Special election turn-out historically low

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir has compiled some dismal turnout data for special elections in California.

The most recent congressional special election was in April 2008 to replace the late Rep. Tom Lantos: Overall turnout was about 25 percent but turnout on election day was less than 7 percent.

Weir is among a growing number of election officials who would like Legislature to pass a law that would allow counties the option to hold mail-only elections if turnout is expected to be low. It costs a fortune to put on a precinct-based election where so few people show up at the polls, and money is especially tight in county coffers these days.

Contra Costa faces the prospect of two or more special elections this year in addition to the May 19 statewide election. An election to replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, will likely occur sometime this summer and if voters select someone who occupied a legislative seat, a subsequent special election will be needed to replace him or her.

Here is what Weir found:

SD 26 March 24, 2009                7.91% turn out, 3.3% turn out at the polls         May 19, 2009*                Scheduled

CD 12 April 8, 2008                25.9% turn out, 6.9% turn out at the polls

June 3, 2008*                No Data Posted.

AD 55 December 11, 2007        11.56% turn out, 5.64% turn out at the polls

February 5, 2008*        43.29% turn out (vote by mail data not available)

CD 37 June 26, 2007                12.35% turn out, 7.12% turn out at the polls
August 21, 2007                9.02% turn out, 4.04% turn out at the polls

AD 39 May 15, 2007                14.27% turn out, 10.24% turn out at the polls
No Runoff

CD 50 April 11, 2006                38.86% turn out, 18.20% turn out at the polls
June 6, 2006*                41.04% turn out, 17.67 % turn out at the polls

SD 35 April 11, 2006                19.14% turn out, 14.14% turn out at the polls
June 6, 2006*                28.18% turn out, 12.13% turn out at the polls

CD 48 October 4, 2005                22.80% turn out, 8.3% turn out at the polls
December 6, 2005        25.70% turn out, 8.,89% turn out at the polls

AD 53 March 8, 2005                17.69% turn out, 11.09% turn out at the polls
No Runoff

CD 05 March 8, 2005                27.72% turn out, 12.34% turn out at the polls
No Runoff

CD 32 April 10, 2001                35.25% turn out, vote by mail results not available
June 5, 2001                37.60% turn out, vote by mail results not available

Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Under: Election reform, Elections | 2 Comments »

Voter registration bills pass out of Assembly committee

The New America Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank with an office in Sacramento, is touting a bill in California that would allow the state to automatically register to vote all residents who fill out a form at the Department of Motor Vehicles or file a state tax return.

AB30 passed out of an Assembly elections committee yesterday.

Lawmakers also gave the nod to a related bill, AB106, would preregister all 16-year-olds in the hopes it will foster more interest in politics prior to automatic registration at age 18.

There has been considerable debate over the years over how to increase voter participation but it remains an open question as to whether an automatic registration process will translate into actual voting.

Here’s the press release from the New America Foundation:

Sacramento, CA–The New America Foundation applauded the advancement of two bills designed to increase the number of Californians who are registered to vote.  The bills, AB 30 (Price) and AB 106 (Price), were approved yesterday by the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting by a solid 5-1 vote. If passed, the bills would make great strides toward bringing California closer to 100 percent voter registration.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Under: Election reform | No Comments »

Constitutional Convention measure in the works

After sitting through a daylong presentation put on by coalition of business leaders and government reform groups in Sacramento, it seems increasingly likely that voters will see on the ballot in 2010 two measures that would lead to the California Constitutional Convention since 1879.

What is a Constitutional Convention? It’s a group of people charged with developing recommendations for amendments to the state’s Constitution, all of which must be ratified by the voters. How those members are chosen and the scope of their work is still up in the air.

Californians may not realize it but they frequently amend their Constitution through the initiative process.

As the Bay Area Council and its partners — the Center for Governmental Studies, Common Cause, Courage Campaign and League of Women Voters and others — envision it, this convention would focus primarily on governance reforms designed to help resolve some of the state’s intractable problems.

This is scary stuff to people who fear that well-intentioned reforms could carry unintended consequences and leave the state in shambles.

But most of the crowd gathered in Sacramento today seemed to feel that the state is already in shambles thanks, in large part, to voter-approved initiatives that carved out dollars for everything from education to public safety to roads but left state leaders with decision-making authority only over 7 percent of the budget.

Potential reform topics include … Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Under: Election reform, Political events | 6 Comments »