Los Angeles Residents Say Yes to Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act

* State Senators Loni Hancock and Fran Pavley and Assemblymembers Julia Brownley and Michael Feuer join state and local leaders to support Proposition 15, California Fair Elections Act on June Ballot

By Press Release

Los Angeles - On the heels of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited corporate expenditures in elections, State Senators Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) and Fran Pavley (D-Agora Hills), Assemblymembers Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) and Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Los Angeles City Councilmembers Paul Koretz, Paul Krekorian and Bill Rosendahl, Congressional Candidate Marcy Winograd, and the Los Angeles community came together today to educate the Los Angeles community about Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act, a ballot proposition which would get elected officials out of the fundraising game and focused on solving California's problems.

Joining the California state and local Los Angeles leaders in a forum at the Leo Baeck Temple were California Common Cause Executive Director Kathay Feng and California Nurses Association co-president Geri Jenkins, RN.

Since 2000, over $1 billion has been raised by California politicians, buying special interests unprecedented access but shutting out the rest of us. That's why polls show nearly three out of four voters want to change the way elections in California are financed.

"We can all agree that the influence of special interest money means ordinary Americans don't have a voice in the debate," said Senator Loni Hancock. "By passing Proposition 15, we can begin to break the connection between political donations and public policy."

For example, fair elections can help solve California's health care problems. "The California Fair Elections Act will help our state implement real reform of the health care system," said Geri Jenkins, co-President of the California Nurses Association. "Nurses know that eliminating the campaign contributions from the deep-pocket special interests - the HMO's, drug companies and the insurance industry - that overwhelm our elections will free our elected representatives to work for the best interest of Californians and guarantee health care to all Californians."

Authored by Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, the California Fair Elections Act would establish a voluntary pilot project for California's Secretary of State races in 2014 and 2018. Candidates would qualify for public financing if they agree to strict spending prohibitions and raise a large number of $5 contributions from Californians. The pilot program would be funded primarily by fees on lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers, with no taxpayer dollars going to candidates.

A version of the California Fair Elections Act is already in place in seven states and two cities. Nearly 400 candidates were elected using only fair elections funding in their 2008 campaigns, and the programs enjoy popular support across party lines. National surveys show that two out of three voters support public financing.

When these financial barriers are eliminated, as they have been in Arizona and Maine, more women and people of color are allowed to run for office. In Arizona, Former Governor Janet Nepolitano was elected under the fair elections system and the number of Latino and Native American candidates running for office nearly tripled in the first year that the system went fully into effect, from 13 in 2000 to 37 in 2002.

Voters are ready for elections that money can't buy. In an October 2009 survey, likely June 2010 voters supported the California Fair Elections Act by a nearly 3-1 margin. Support held strong across all political parties and geographic regions of California with support of 65% among Latinos, 65% among Democrats, 65% among independents, and 59% among Republicans.

"Under a fair elections system, elected officials truly represent voters, not campaign donors," said Trent Lange, chairman of the California Fair Elections Campaign. "Public financing has freed elected officials across the country to pass bi-partisan, groundbreaking legislation that is only possible when our leaders do not fear retribution from powerful special interests."

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