Santa Monica, CA — The Pasadena City Council created a special task force to overturn a voter-approved conflict of interest initiative last night according to the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. The council’s target is Measure B, a ballot measure passed by 60% of Pasadena voters in 2001 that bars city officials from accepting campaign cash, gifts or a job from companies that do business with the city. The City Council lost a three-year legal challenge to the initiative in April when the California Supreme Court rejected the city’s request to reopen its failed lawsuit against the measure.
“The City Council has been fighting to halt reform since Pasadena citizens collected over 12,000 signatures and enacted the toughest conflict of interest reform initiative in the nation. Last night’s action to create a so-called task force to study city campaign rules is a cynical move by desperate politicians to undo the strong reform approved by Pasadena voters,” said Carmen Balber with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).
“The task force will be appointed by the same politicians voters had in mind when they approved Measure B. These politicians are openly hostile to any restrictions on the flow of favors to and from city hall and last night’s move had only one motive ‘ eliminating conflict of interest protections approved by the voters,” continued Balber.
The Taxpayer Protection Amendment, or Measure B, which was also enacted in San Francisco, Claremont and Santa Monica, bars public officials from accepting campaign contributions, gifts or a job from any entity they award a public benefit ‘ such as a city contract, a lucrative franchise or the purchase of city property. Pasadena spent three years and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars fighting the political reform initiative.
The city of Pasadena attempted to invalidate the law by refusing to report the election results to the Secretary of State. A Pasadena citizen and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights were forced to bring suit to compel the city to put the election results, and the initiative, on the books. The city responded by suing FTCR to try and overturn the initiative. The Court of Appeal ruled that Pasadena had violated FTCR’s first amendment rights by suing to overturn the initiative, and a superior court judge’s ruling against the initiative should be thrown out.
Santa Monica’s city council fought the measure as well. The city attorney advised the city clerk that she should refuse to implement the initiative. When the city clerk acted as directed, the city sued itself in a thinly-veiled attempt to invalidate the ballot measure. The trial court and the Court of Appeal agreed with FTCR that there was no actual disagreement between the city of Santa Monica and the city clerk, and ruled that the city could not sue itself in order to eliminate a voter-approved initiative.
– 30 –