Helping Our Peninsula's Environment


Campaign Finance Reform and Severing Money from Political Decisions -- Halting Conflicts of Financial Innterests

Severing Money from Governmental Decisions

"Legalized bribery" occurs when an elected official votes for a project that financially benefits someone who gave them campaign contributions. This has provoked cross partisan outrage and nationwide debates on enacting Campaign Finance Reform (CFR) laws.

There are two general areas of Campaign Finance Reform: Severing Money Given in Political Campaigns from Governmental decisions, and Voter Owned Elections sometimes called Public Financing.

Common Cause's primary purpose over the past 20 years has been to enact CFR laws which have two general forms disclosure and prohibitions. Very little has been done at the Federal level, and in California there is literally no substantive CFR law at all, no restrictions on contributions in state elections. This means you can get a $1,000,000 check from Acme Radiation and Polluting to run for city council with no problem other than having to publicly disclose the money.

An example of a disclosure type CFR law is one which would prohibit depositing or cashing a check until the identity and employer of the check writer is known and disclosed.

A CFR law with substance is San Diego's prohibition on contributions by a non-individual - any entity which is not person. Contributions from corporations and labor unions are prohibited.

Another type is called disqualification or recusal. It requires an elected official to not vote on or influence an official decision when they have received a contribution from someone who would financially benefit from the decision. The complement to that is prohibiting a contribution from someone who financially benefited from a official decision made by the intended contribution recipient.

Voter Owned Elections or "Public Financing" are the genuine answer. This employs governmental funds to pay for election campaigns so that lobbyist and business contributions are not needed to get elected.

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This Page Last Updated August 6, 2006