Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, November 14, 2005

Clean Money Campaign

Beginning in 2007, council and mayoral candidates in Albuquerque, NM will have the option of accepting public financing for their campaigns if they gather a required amount of low dollar qualifying contributions. The Open and Ethical Elections Code will limit campaign spending and level the playing field so that qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds can run for office. The vote passed 68% to 31%.

This is the referendum the Mayor has been mentioning in the press. Here's some more info from Democracy Matters.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why bother?
The outside interests simply will spend more money to support the candidates they like, but just not give directly to the candidates. Advertising will balloon more than it has already.

Limiting contributions to candidates is actually worse because the money just shifts elsewhere with no accountability by the candidate. And candidates will be powerless to stop it and have any control on the message.

Tell me why this is not true.

11/14/2005 12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would favor the proposal if there were some limits on independent expenditures. I fear that this proposal will put too much clout into the hands of SEIU, POA etc, plus the new committees that would be created by the Levy's and Blankenships of the world.

11/14/2005 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How would you limit SEIU, POA, dogPAC, BlankenshipPAC, or whomever?

If they want to buy ads and send out whatever message they want, who can stop them legally, upholding their rights to free speech, etc.?

11/14/2005 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure you can, and since you probably can't I am hesitant to sign on to a "reform" that ties the hands of the candidates to the betterment of the monied interests

11/14/2005 2:39 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

I have some of the same concerns but wanted to start a conversation about it -- it's really the same as we have now, without a lot spent by candidates themselves.

An issue I have is whether donors to individual candidates will transfer to PACs....AND if the PACs will start soliciting money from them should this happen...

11/14/2005 3:34 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

If PACs and other independent expenditure groups cannot be limited, why worry about it?

But individual candidated can be limited or pressured to meet voluntary funding limits, then run with it.

The only losers to limits to contributions are the people who make a profit being hired by those well-monied candidates.

Besides, who really thinks that PACs and IE groups somehow will keep down their spending if candidates have no limits. All elections will be better with the more limits wherever they can be limited.

11/14/2005 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All elections will be better? How can you say that? If it cost a certain amount of money to win an election and you have limits to what you yourself can raise than you become more dependent on the outside groups. If you are more dependent on them to win than you will be more beholden to them once you are in office...

11/14/2005 4:54 PM  
Anonymous First District Streetfighter said...

yes, better

If a candidate accepts money directly, then a direct conflict exists with a future beholden situation when that group wants something from the City.

If an outside group wants to advertise for or against a candidate, that candidate can tell that outside group to stop and shut up. A candidate is only as dependent as he or she wants to be on outside groups, but a candidate is totally dependent upon direct contributors.

It only costs a certain amount of money to win an election because candidates keep accepting that much money. They can stop, really they can....

Again, outside groups will keep spending regardless of any limits for direct contributions to candidates.
This debate can go on forever, and seems fairly exhausted until an actual proposal is made by the city.

11/14/2005 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So for some it is all about the consultants getting paid not the reform. Limiting contributions and thereby empowering IEs means more work without any accountablity. Just ask the D.C. and Sac. consultants - they all would rather work for IEs rather than candidates. It is easier. It is less accountable and pays more. Ask Richard Cochran (POA) who makes more him or those working for candidates - and who works harder.

All this talk about contribution reform is bunk. A waste of time and takes people off the real issues of the city. Look how great terms limits have been for the city and the state. Another great idea.

Let's allow people to run. Follow the law and report contributions. If there are conflicts raise them and make people aware. Yet for $100 or even $2000 I do not think anyone is going to sell out their own carrer. This is all very silly.

11/14/2005 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, I'm impressed. You actually had an original and thoughtful conversation about a critical local topic, rather than just reacting to the strong opinions on the News-Press' editorial page. Thank you to the person writing yesterday who suggested you pay tribute to Travis Armstrong, since he supplies you with most of your content. It appears you got the message. Please try to continue to be original. It's better for our community, and more people might actually participate.

11/14/2005 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Amazingly a real discussion. Most people who give larger donations do not do so to win influence, they to people who share their values. Donors win when a candidate that agrees with them wins. If a donor is trying to win influence with a donation they are the loser.

11/14/2005 10:08 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Thanks -- I guess :)

So, it seems we are at a stand off on what to do about undue IE influence -- and I am not clear they can be controlled in any way by governmental act.

Would membership groups, however, take more interest in what their PACs are doing? Is it easier to promote democracy among a union or special interest group when doing mail, tv and radio at the will of a large membership -- than the will of an individual candidate and their campaign hack? Might they be able to see past election day better?

Maybe that's a lesser evil...

11/14/2005 11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know. It seems that if a group of candidates all raise about the same amount of money but a group of them are all endorsed by the POA and all those candidates win, than those candidates are going to be very indebted to the poa in a way they might other wise not. Iya for example probably is less indebted in this cycle to the police and fire groups because of the boost she had from the Capps Commercial. However since it appears those ads were paid for by the late contribution dollars given by developers, might she be in a bit of a bind if the Levy project makes a sudden appearance at City Hall? It is hard to say. This is a tough question

11/15/2005 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all the talk about the POA and SEIU and DOGPAC one thing that is missed is Fire. Once again they spent their money, walked, mailed and stayed out of the headlines and all three of their choices won. And they split with the Cops this year. They missed with Magne(POA influence?)last time but I can't remember when their endorsement didn't win.

11/15/2005 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we (or they, since the Council is apparently doing this) should find out what jurisdictions have a campaign finance control system, what kind, how it works and so forth.Until there are more details as to what works and where, everything is a guess.

Although it is good that the mayor and some of the council members are in favor, I would have liked it better had it come from the people.

I tend to think that there is no control that is strong enough, constitutional requirements and all -- and that the best way is full publicity AND frequent reporting, weekly and then daily for the last month of the campaigns. But given the sole daily paper, the N-P, how would there be the publicity?! Unless the city or some organization paid for space listing donation totals....

As for the power of the donations, of course the donor expects something in return - and probably gets it, if only the proximity to power or perceived power, especially if the candidate will be running again for something or other. His donee is only a phone call away and the odds are great that the council member would take a call immediately/would answer e-mail from someone who gave hundreds and more, whereas an ordinary nobody gets nothing.

That kind of influence from so much money now makes me glad there are term limits. It's harder to buy a candidate who's only going to be there for one more term.

11/15/2005 6:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As in many things the market and transparency is best. Term limits means we hand power over to the staff as it takes a term for a council member to be 100% and a reelection to feel confident. And then they go.

Now we want to create some contribution limit to solve a problem that does not exist. I hear that the contributions control candidates. Candidates are controlled by public opinion, not donors. Give me a crowd against a donor and the crowd will win.

The first ammendment gives us the right to speak out and spend money. That allows IEs.

An IE attacking a candidate will most likely knock a candidate out of the race, especially if the candidate cannot respond.

Think for a moment a BIZPAC attacking Das for second district and Das not being able to spend the money to respond. He's dead.

Becareful what you ask for.

Term limits.

Finance reform.


All turn our city over to the special districts.

11/15/2005 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece by the Poodle in the Independent about Ventura's campaign finance reform. Why look to Albuqueque when the solution is closer to hand! Does anyone know how well it has worked there?

Also: what's with the Independent which really seems to be going downhill/to have gone downhill as an indpendent newspaper? It seems to be now primarily a vehicle for entertainment advertising. They must be rolling in ad money --- but they don't even bother to put stuff online promptly. The last poodle is last week's.

The reporting is often excellent, and Nick Welsh is always great, but the paper is so limited now.

Pity Santa Barbara really, REALLY needs an independent voice.

11/17/2005 11:43 AM  
Blogger David Pritchett said...

A new entry for Blogabarbara about the latest quality of Santa Barbara Independent would be good, especially so this is not just a reaction to Newspress all the time.
The Indy cannot seem to retain their best writers anymore.

11/18/2005 10:05 AM  

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