SACRAMENTO, CA — Proponents of Proposition 89, which would reduce the role of big money in politics, were warned by a CHP officer yesterday that they could be considered aÂ “homeland security threat” as theyÂ filmed lawmakers and lobbyists wrapping up end of the session deals.Â
“When did the CHP become a private security force for corporate lobbyists?Â Prop 89, the campaign finance overhaul initiative, will make the Capitol a public space again,” said Jerry Flanagan of the nonpartisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).Â
FTCR’sÂ public interest news crew, Channel 89, was in the Capitol yesterday filming lawmakers and lobbyists as they exchange favors and campaign contributions in the final days of the legislative session.Â A CHP officer warned the Channel 89 staff that they could be considered aÂ “homeland security threat” for filming the democratic process in the Capitol.Â Shortly after, Channel 89 staff were stopped as they tried to interview Assembly Speaker Nuñez outside his office. The CHP called FTCR staff to suggest they were breaking the law.Â
“Californians pay lawmakers’ salaries and pay taxes to keep the Capitol building running. It’s only fair that we get a birds eye view of what they are doing on our property.Â Channel 89 is still in the Capitol, and the cameras are rolling. Stay tuned for footage atÂ www.Channel89.org,” said Carmen Balber.
View footage from the Capitol and end-of-session political fundraisers at:Â www.Channel89.org, courtesy of the Channel 89 film crew.
FTCR said the intimidation was triggered by the the subject matter of the filming — fundraisers where lobbyists pay thousands to chat with politicians, and the hallways where those same lobbyists make final hour pitches to lawmakers.
The main provisions of Proposition 89:
— Public funding for candidates who agree not to take private money for their campaigns. To qualify for the funds, candidates must collect a set number of $5 contributions.
— Participating candidates may receive additional matching funds of up to five times the original amount of funding to compete equally with independent expenditures, or expenditures by wealthy and other privately-funded opponents.
— Contribution limits that apply across the board to corporations, unions, and individuals: no more than $500 per election cycle to individual legislative candidates, $1,000 for statewide offices, $1,000 to so-called independent expenditure committees, $7,500 to political parties and aggregate total limits of $15,000 per year per donor to all candidates and committees that seek to influence the election of candidates.
— A ban on contributions to candidates by lobbyists and state contractors.
— Corporate treasury donations capped at $10,000 per ballot measure. Additional contributions from both unions and corporations on initiatives must be made through political action committees.
— Funding generated by a 0.2% increase in the corporation tax rate from 8.84% to 9.04% — a figure lower than it was from 1980 to 1996.
— Extensive public disclosure requirements and strong enforcement provisions, including removing those who cheat the system from office.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is the state’s leading consumer watchdog group. For more information, visit us on-line at:Â http://www.consumerwatchdog.org.