Legally Corrupt 

Don’t expect Phil or Arnold to rush to endorse the clean-money initiative

Wednesday, Jun 28 2006

Phil Angelides has said he supports public financing of elections. Now he, and the rest of the California Democratic Party, have a chance to put their mouth where their money has been. The California Nurses Association, working with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, has formally qualified a clean-money ballot initiative for the November election.

If voters approve it, California’s system will be similar to that of Maine and Arizona, in which candidates who refuse private contributions — other than $5 seed-money donations — will be provided full public funding for their campaigns. Even better, revenue from the system would come not from general funds, but rather from a slight increase in the corporate tax. Further, the clean-money system would provide candidates with funding to offset so-called independent-expenditure campaigns. These are the virtually unregulated spending spasms offered by outsiders in support of a given candidate, like the Chamber of Commerce bankrolling pro-Arnold campaigning and the wealthy Tsakopoulos family underwriting Angelides’ advertising.

The ballot initiative has also won the endorsements of the California Clean Money Campaign as well as the leading national advocate of comprehensive campaign-finance reform, Public Campaign. In other words, Californians finally have within their reach the power to stick a cork in the gushing pipeline of special-interest influence in state campaigns. And the same voters who had to be dragged sedated and in chains to cast a vote in the recent and totally money-marinated primary enthusiastically snapped to life to support the clean-money push. Initiative organizers say they gathered the necessary 620,000 qualifying signatures during just five weeks of solicitation — and from across partisan lines.

Related Stories

  • You Can Register to Vote When You Register for Healthcare in CA

    Conservatives aren't too happy with this. It turns out that, at least in California, the folks running the Obamacare sign-ups have to also give you an opportunity to register to vote. Why would Republicans care? Well, the folks who don't have insurance tend to support President Obama's Affordable Care Act 2 to 1...
  • More Sickened by Foster Farms Chicken

    Foster Farms chicken is still making people sick.  Government officials prematurely declared the outbreak of antibiotic-resistant salmonella poisoning that began in March 2013 over in January. But since then, new infections have continued to develop  - most of them in California, where Foster Farms is headquartered. So far the outbreak has sickened more than...
  • Hottest Winter Ever

    You're not alone if you felt that spring started sometime in February. Despite a couple of juicy storms last month and the fact that spring officially starts March 20, it has been a winter of strangely sultry beach weather. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center went...
  • Our Water Obsession

    "Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water." - Chinatown Countless documentaries are released into theaters every year, the majority of which are info dumps that take the talking-head structure as a given. There's rarely much thought given to form, which is sometimes fine - not every...
  • Paint-Out & Sculpt-Out

    @ The Autry

So will Phil, whose campaign is already faltering and scurrying behind the Governator’s, come out and boldly endorse the clean-money initiative? Will the Democratic Party machine that cranked out squads of phone bankers and door knockers for Angelides in the primary now put its muscle behind an initiative that will finally crimp the role of Big Money in state politics? Will Democrats be willing to support a measure that blocks the flow of both corporate and union funding into the electoral system? Or, better put, will Pope Benedict demand that his young nephews have bar mitzvahs?

All of the above outcomes are equally likely. The Democrats, as we know, bitch and moan about the lavish amounts of cash that, say, Arnold Schwarzenegger can raise from wealthy special interests. But that’s only because they are jealous. Democrats also have their own deep pools of special-interest funding from Hollywood, the high-tech industry and unions, or, in Angelides’ case, a more traditional base of developers. These sources provide piles of cash, but usually not quite as much as Republicans can stack up.

So while naive liberals might now be expecting Phil and the party to throw their weight behind real campaign-finance reform, it’s more likely they’re about to learn that there really is no difference between the two parties on this issue. The fight around the November clean-money initiative promises to be a monumental battle between the entirety of the political establishment on the one hand, and the CNA and some consumer advocates on the other. We’ve seen this sort of sordid spectacle before, so why any shock? We saw Democrats gang up with Republicans in the recent past to defeat an energy re-regulation measure, as well as one for statewide universal health care.

Here comes the really bad news. Some sources report that the campaign against the initiative will be led by Democratic consultant Gale Kaufman, the same woman who engineered the $70 million union campaign — known as the Alliance for a Better California — last fall against Arnold’s packet of ballot initiatives. Apparently, this state would be a better place if we didn’t tamper with the current system, which blatantly legalizes corruption. Say it ain’t so, Gale. Kaufman’s office says she’s on vacation for two weeks and nobody else there could possibly know. Uh-huh.

Meanwhile, we learn, Governor Schwarzenegger last week had a closed-door meeting on this same issue. (For the record, the governor’s people deny that such meetings involved anyone outside the office, but hold open the possibility that such a discussion occurred with staff members.) The governor, apparently, is mulling over the possibility of endorsing the initiative. I have to suppose that, in the end, he won’t. But can you imagine the scenario? Democrats and union consultants lined up with the Chamber of Commerce to ensure the status quo while Arnold sides with his old enemies in the nurses union? Sounds like a movie to me.

Related Content

Now Trending

  • Jay Z Grand Park Concert Is Official as Mayor Plans Announcement

    It looks like Mayor Eric Garcetti is going to officially announce that a two-day "Budweiser Made in America" festival is taking place  at downtown L.A.'s Grand Park. The mayor's office said today he " will make an announcement with Shawn "JAY Z" Carter, Supervisor Gloria Molina, City Council President Herb...
  • "Compton Division" Pimps Made Millions, Cops Say

    A trio of local pimps forced women to work the streets from San Diego to Las Vegas and beyond, cops say, and they allegedly made millions doing so. But now 31-year-old Robert Walker, 34-year-old Daniel Gunther, and 34-year-old David Sheffey, who called their crew the Compton Division, are behind bars, says...
  • L.A.'s Top 10 Streets for Bicycle Crashes Revealed

    You're probably already aware that there's a hit-and-run epidemic in L.A., and that bicycling in a car-crazed capital like Los Angeles can be hazardous to your health. See also: Critical Mass Bike Ride Recognizes L.A. Hit-&-Run Victims But the nerds at the MIT Media Lab's Social Computing Group recently came up...

Around The Web