Judge Strikes Misleading Argument Against Prop 15

By Press Release, Common Cause

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frankley today ordered the Secretary of State to remove a misleading portion of the opposition arguments to Proposition 15 when it appears in the official voters guide. The judge specifically ruled that the phrase "raise your taxes" must be removed because Prop 15 does not raise taxes on voters.

"I'm encouraged that voters will now have a more truthful depiction of Prop 15 when they vote on it this June," said Derek Cressman, who brought the suit on behalf of the nonpartisan citizens organization Common Cause. "People will now feel confident they can approve a pilot program to get candidates out of the fundraising game without an increase in their taxes. In fact, implementing public financing of campaigns will reduce the influence of special interests and save taxpayer money by resulting in fewer tax-loopholes for corporations," he added.

If approved by voters in the June 8 primary election, Proposition 15 will implement a program of public financing for Secretary of State campaigns in 2014 and 2018. Candidates who qualify by demonstrating broad support will receive equal amounts of public funds to run their campaigns and be prohibited from raising private contributions. The funding will come from an increase in the fees that lobbyists and lobbyist employers pay to register with the Secretary of State from $12.50 to $350 per year. This is still lower than the fees paid by doctors and lawyers to register in California, and lower than the fees lobbyists pay in other states. (see attached)

Prop 15 opponents, lead by a trade association for lobbyists called the Institute for Governmental advocates, have depicted the lobbyist registration fee increase as a general increase on taxes. While they will remain free to do so in their own advertising, today's court ruling means that in the official voters guide the ballot argument cannot suggest that Prop 15 will lead to an increase in voters' taxes. Judge Frankley declined to rule whether the increased charge lobbyists would face under Prop 15 should be legally characterized as a fee or a tax, saying it would be impossible to decide that before today's 5:00 p.m. deadline for sending the voters guide to the printer.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

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