California Democratic Party Endorses Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act

* California Dems Say No to Elections Bought By Special Interests; Special Interests; Yes to Elections by Voters and Yes to Proposition 15, California Fair Elections Act on June Ballot

By Press Release

Los Angeles - The California Democratic Party endorsed Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act without opposition. Proposition 15 is a ballot measure that would get elected officials out of the fundraising game and focused on solving California's problems.

"Proposition 15 is a good first step. When all elections are eventually fairly won, not bought, the state will be better able to improve our schools, address the budget crisis and iron out health care," said John Burton, the chairman of the California Democratic Party. "That's why the Democratic Party is proud to endorse Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act."

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 (D-Oakland). "By passing Proposition 15, we can begin to break the connection between political donations and public policy."

Authored by Senator Hancock 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 eight 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.

"Sadly, financial barriers have kept many talented women and other candidates who aren't wealthy or don't know wealthy donors from running for office," said Alex Gallardo-Rooker, the vice-chair of the California Democratic Party. " Proposition 15 would open the political process to candidates of all backgrounds who show that they have a broad base of support."

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.

"Currently, candidates need to spend too much time fundraising -- time they could be spending solving our problems instead," said Eric Bauman, vice-chair of the California Democratic Party. "When California passes Fair Elections public financing, elected officials will be able to focus on the work they were elected to do."

"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."

Sunday's endorsement by the Democratic Party comes days after the California Labor Federation endorsed Proposition 15. The Labor Fed, representing 2.1 million people, joins the California Nurses Association, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the Golden State Jobs Coalition, League of Women Voters of California, AARP, California Clean Money Campaign, California Common Cause, California Primary Care Association, Consumer Federation of California, the Sierra Club and hundreds of other groups and prominent individuals in endorsing Proposition 15.


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