Ventura County Residents Say Yes to Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act

* Assemblymember Julia Brownley, Ventura County Supervisors Steve Bennett, Kathy Long, Linda Parks, & John Zaragoza, and California Nurses Association co-pesident Geri Jenkins, RN join state and local leaders to support Proposition 15

By Press Release

Camarillo - On the heels of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on corporate money's role in elections, Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Ventura County Supervisors Steve Bennett, Kathy Long, Linda Parks, and John Zaragoza, and California Nurses Association co-president Geri Jenkins, RN came together with community leaders today to educate the Ventura County 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.

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."

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.

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.

"Proposition 15 is a critical first step toward putting public policy back into the middle of California's democracy rather than special interests", said Assemblymember Julia Brownley. The states that have already instituted clean money campaigns have consistently demonstrated that the system encourages more competition and greater voter participation. Taking money out of politics is not a liberal or a conservative issue, it is an issue of civil justice."

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 Napolitano 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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