Press Release: Councilmembers Push for Sweeping Campaign Finance Reform

Los Angeles, CA -- On Tuesday, Councilmembers David Ryu, Paul Krekorian, and Joe Buscaino introduced a series of campaign finance reform proposals, including banning developer campaign contributions to City elected officials and candidates, and increasing the City’s matching funds ratio to empower small donors, in an effort to increase transparency and public trust in local government.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 10, 2017

Press Contact:
Estevan Montemayor
Office of Councilmember Ryu
estevan.montemayor@lacity.org
213.605.4145

Ian Thompson
Office of Councilmember Krekorian
ian.thompson@lacity.org
310.490.8595 (cell) | 213.473.7002 (office)

Branimir Kvartuc
Office of Councilmember Buscaino
branimir.kvartuc@lacity.org
213.248.7954

COUNCILMEMBERS PUSH FOR SWEEPING CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

Los Angeles, CA -- On Tuesday, Councilmembers David Ryu, Paul Krekorian, and Joe Buscaino introduced a series of campaign finance reform proposals, including banning developer campaign contributions to City elected officials and candidates, and increasing the City’s matching funds ratio to empower small donors, in an effort to increase transparency and public trust in local government.

The public’s mistrust of the influence of campaign contributions has only been exacerbated by developers and those with business before the City of Los Angeles who give political donations widely or, in some cases, disregard campaign finance rules entirely. Unlike the ban the City has on companies aiming for City contracts, no such ban currently exists for developers looking for discretionary approval of their projects.

Limiting contributions from certain non-individuals can also improve election turnout. When New York City restricted contributions from some non-individual entities, its share of campaign contributions to candidates by individuals rose from 61% in 1997 to 92% in 2013, pointing toward the effectiveness of these measures in their mission to create more inclusive elections driven by individual voters, donors, and stakeholders.

The submitted motions would:

  • Ban contributions to City elected officials and candidates for City office from developers and their principals with development projects currently or recently before the City;
  • Increase the matching fund rates from the current 2:1 match in primary elections and 4:1 match in general elections to 6:1 in both primary elections and general elections for all candidates who qualify for matching funds;
  • Prepare possible options for the definition of a "developer" to ensure as wide a net as possible is cast, in addition to exploring whether contractors and subcontractors on development projects requiring discretionary council approval should be included in this ban;
  • Require campaign committees to provide additional reporting on non-individual entity contributors, including a category that denotes contributions derived from developers and their principals;
  • Require a signed affidavit that requires the contributor to positively affirm, under penalty of perjury, that the contributions are being made by the contributor, that the contributor is not being reimbursed, and that the contributor does not have any open applications for development projects before the city or any local or citywide planning commission, in addition to any other city ethics laws that should be included in the affidavit; and
  • Requests a report on the costs and feasibility of increasing the size of enforcement staff at the Ethics Commission to increase the number of inspections and audits that can be carried out to reduce the incidences of campaign finance fraud and improve transparency.

“The best way to restore trust in government is to avoid even the appearance of a conflict," said Councilmember David Ryu. "By introducing sweeping reforms, we will work to restore Angelenos’ faith in the City’s ability to fairly review and approve major development projects. We need a campaign finance system that limits the influence of big-pocketed developers, and instead empowers thousands of small donors to have their voices heard.”

“As elected officials, we depend on the people who elected us to trust that we’ll do the right thing for our communities,” said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. “But, when it comes to campaign finance, the system we have in place today is failing us all. The reform ideas we’re proposing are aimed at upending this by getting developer money out of City Hall and creating a more thoughtful, transparent and fair atmosphere.”

“My hope is that these campaign finance reforms including removing developer campaign contributions with active projects before the City, improving the City’s Ethics website, and increasing matching campaign funds will be incremental steps towards ensuring transparency and proactively curtailing anyone who tries to circumvent the system and the laws in place,” said Councilmember Joe Buscaino.

Read the two motions, here.


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