(December 6, 2019)

The influence of money in our political system casts a long, heavy shadow over our democracy, and a public financing system for elections can help create a level playing field for candidates. Today, I continued the work toward getting money out of politics by authoring legislation that asks the Ethics Commission to present proposals for creating a full public financing system for local elections in LA.

Under such a system, candidates for local office would demonstrate viability by collecting a certain number of low-dollar donations from a large number of constituents, agree to forgo corporate donations, special interest money, or significant self-financing, and in exchange receive a statutorily established amount of money sufficient to run an aggressive and well-financed campaign. Maine and Arizona both have successful versions of public financing that have led to lowered overall campaign spending, freed candidates from fundraising, increased voter turnout, and encouraged more qualified people to run, including people of color and women.

With the demand to get money out of politics so strong, with the appetite for reform so prevalent, and with city elections scheduled to move to a new even-year cycle in 2020, the time has come to establish a “Clean Money” system of full public financing of Los Angeles municipal elections. My predecessor Bill Rosendahl pushed for full public financing for candidates with proven grassroots support in 2005, and I introduced similar legislation in 2017 that was not ultimately successful. The legislation I submitted today continues that previous work, extending the conversation so we can move toward this important reform.

I’m looking forward to working with campaign finance reform activists like the CA Clean Money Campaign, Money Out Voters In, Unrig LA, the League of Women Voters, and CA Common Cause to get this done. Democracy is worth the effort.