Councilmembers Alarcon, Cardenas, And Hahn Hold Key to Fair Elections in Los Angeles

* City Council vote to be held today on Los Angeles Voters' Bill of Rights

By California Clean Money Campaign, Press Release

PRESS RELEASE from the California Clean Money Campaign

CONTACT: Trent Lange, (310) 428-1556

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to vote today on a critical electoral reform package, the Los Angeles Voters' Bill of Rights. Introduced by Councilmembers Jose Huizar, Eric Garcetti, and Paul Koretz, the Voters' Bill of Rights is designed to increase the city's anemic voter turnout and strengthen its public matching funds program to limit special interest control over elections.

"The outrageous amounts of money in politics, with over $2 billion likely to be spent in this year's Congressional elections, shows that Los Angeles needs to dramatically improve its campaign finance system before the new tidal wave of spending hits here", said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. "The Los Angeles Voters' Bill of Rights is a key step towards allowing Los Angeles to better respond to the flood of ever-increasing special interest money."

A key component to the plan is to remove the cap on the city's matching funds Trust Fund. This will ensure that the full $3 million a year that Los Angeles voters specified go to public financing of campaigns when they passed the matching funds program in 1990 are available for qualified candidates. The city's matching fund system has increased the importance of small contributors and enabled grassroots candidates to run competitive campaigns, but has been used by fewer candidates in recent years. No general funds beyond those already allocated by the voters' would be required.

Removing the Trust Fund cap will also allow the city to move to full Voter-Owned Elections, or Fair Elections public financing of campaigns, when more funds become available, so that candidates who show a broad base of support have the option of running without raising any special interest money.

The Voters' Bill of Rights is supported by groups like the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles, California Common Cause, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, Greenlining Institute, and the Los Angeles Federation of Labor. Its passage by council would put a measure on the March 2011 ballot to amend the city charter.

Councilmembers Paul Krekorian, Tom LaBonge, Ed Reyes, and Bill Rosendahl have all shown support for joining Councilmembers Huizar, Garcetti, and Koretz in voting Yes on raising the Trust Fund cap. Unfortunately, Councilmembers Bernard Parks, Jan Perry, Greg Smith, Herb Wesson, and Dennis Zine have either indicated they're likely to vote no or have voted no on similar measures in the past, though they could still vote for reform this time.

That leaves the fate of Fair Elections in Los Angeles up to Councilmembers Richard Alarcon, Tony Cardenas, and Janice Hahn. All have endorsed full public financing measures in the past, but have not yet taken a position on raising the public matching funds Trust Fund cap.

"Hopefully Councilmembers Alarcon, Cardenas, and Hahn will help the city address the huge growth in special interest fundraising by giving voters the chance to strengthen the city's public financing system,"L said Lange. "They have all championed Clean Money and Fair Elections in the past, and this is the perfect opportunity for them to do so again."

Councilmembers Alarcon, Cardenas, and Hahn are all Democrats. The California Democratic Party platform states that "California Democrats believe that a healthy democracy is based on clean, fair elections… We will work for public financing of political campaigns at all levels of government…"

Public financing of campaigns are supported by Los Angeles voters, as indicated by the 52% of city voters who voted Yes last June on Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act.

#####< br> The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to build statewide support for public funding of election campaigns. For further information, visit

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