Clean Money Initiative Would Limit Campaign Contributions


SACRAMENTO -- This fall, Californians will vote on the merits of public financing for elections. Supporters call it the "Clean Money Initiative" because, they said, it will reduce the influence of lobbyists at the state capitol. "I think the average voter and the average person thinks that all of politics is corrupted by money," said Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and Media. The California Nurses Association sponsored the Clean Money Initiative, now known as Prop 89. It would ban contributions from lobbyists and place firm limits on campaign money from corporations, unions and average citizens to no more than $500 to legislative candidates and a maximum of $1,000 for statewide offices, including governor and attorney general. The funding for the Clean Money Initiative came not from the general public but through an increase in corporate taxes, and taxes will most certainly be a big campaign issue this fall, NBC 11 reported. "This initiative increases taxes, which is something that the governor has said he opposes and will continue to oppose," said Julie Soderlund, press secretary of Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign. The Schwarzenegger campaign said similar measures have been struck down in other states and that California law would likely be tied up in court for years. "I'm very concerned about the amount of big money. I mean, this governor has raised money from every big corporation in America for his re-election campaign against me. I want to see a fairer playing field -- more volunteers, more donors. I'm going to take a look at the initiative," said Democratic candidate Phil Angelides. O'Connor said the concept of cleaning up elections will resonate with the public. "I think they'll do almost anything to cut the amount of money that's being spent and the ads that they're having to watch financed by that money. They really hate it. And it truly erodes the public trust in government," O'Connor said. Public financing systems are already in place in Arizona, Maine and Connecticut, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that campaign limits in Vermont violated the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

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