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L.A. Councilman Mitchell Englander Wants To Raise Campaign Finance Limits

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Thu, Jul 28, 2011 at 8:17 AM

click to enlarge Councilman Mitchell Englander
  • Councilman Mitchell Englander
Mitchell Englander was just sworn in as the newest member of the L.A. City Council. To get there, he raised half a million dollars, $500 at a time.

He doesn't want to relive that particular torment. One of his first orders of business as a councilman is raising the city's campaign contribution limits.

In a motion filed last week, Englander complained that the $500 limit forces candidates "to spend an exorbitant amount of time fundraising instead of interacting with voters."

Welcome to politics!


Before jumping into the arena, Englander served as chief of staff to Councilman Greig Smith. When Smith announced his retirement, Englander took to the phones. In 2009 -- two years before the election -- he raised more than $200,000.

Englander won in March with 54% 58% of the vote, clobbering his nearest competitor, Brad Smith, by 30 points. He also outraised Smith, $508,000 to a paltry $64,000.

Having excelled at this game, he now wants to change the rules:

"The City must take definitive action to allow citizens who cannot self-finance or who are not the recipients of unrestricted special interest independent expenditure campaigns, a better opportunity to run for office."
His proposal is to raise the $500 limit -- set in 1990 -- to adjust for inflation. That would make the new limit about $860, according to this CPI calculator.

Here's a very rough approximation of how that would affect somebody like Englander. Instead of making 1,000 phone calls, he would be able to raise the same amount with only 580 calls. At 8 minutes per call (plus 2 minutes per call for bathroom/sanity breaks), that's 70 more hours for Englander to spend with his constituents!

Through a spokesman, Englander declined to comment on his proposal. Too busy fundraising!

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