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Model ordinance after Measure H

May 23, 2011

The City Council is preparing to take a hard look at the city’s campaign finance and ethics rules (“Council moves to strengthen ethics rules,” April 29).

The campaign finance ordinance adopted in 2008 obviously needs refinement given the problems that have arisen as a result of the investigation into Advanced Development Investments Inc. And the city currently has no ordinance requiring paid lobbyists to register.

One of the tenets of campaign finance reform is that the appearance of corruption is as bad as actual corruption. No actual corruption has been uncovered, but plenty of mud has been slung based on the appearance of corruption because some candidates in the 2007 and 2009 municipal elections accepted thousands of dollars in donations from ADI subcontractors.


In light of the above, the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank urges the City Council to model revisions to the ordinance after the recently passed city of Los Angeles Measure H, which prohibits, when certain contract limits are met, campaign contributions from contractors and subcontractors and further prohibits both groups from hosting events to raise funds for a candidate.

The same rules should apply to all applicants for entitlements and suppliers of materials to a city-funded project. Measure H places the remedy for violation squarely on the shoulders of the donor by barring the donor from receiving the contract.

The city’s current ordinance does not contain a similar solution to violations of the prohibition on donations. Another important goal of campaign finance reform is leveling the playing field. Council’s April 26 staff report on amending the campaign finance ordinance sounds an alarm on this front.

Discussions regarding dropping the $5,000 limit on the amount of funds a candidate can lend to his or her campaign, raising the amount of post-election funds a council member can raise above the current $10,000 ceiling and lengthening the amount of time in which those funds can be raised are steps in the wrong direction.

Clearly, incumbents have the advantage in an election as a result of their official positions. Increasing the size of an incumbent’s officer holder account allows a council member to increase his or her exposure in the community.

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