Santa Monica Politicians Vote to Allow Political Kickbacks, Attempt to Overturn Anti-Corruption Law at the Ballot

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Pasadena Politicians Expand Protections In Identical Ethics Law

Santa Monica, CA — Santa Monica politicians placed a measure on the ballot last night that would overturn a voter-approved anti-corruption law passed six years ago. The proposed measure would restore their ability to take kickbacks from people who do business with the city. Pasadena politicians acted Monday night to expand their city’s anti-corruption law which is currently identical to Santa Monica’s.

Santa Monica Mayor Holbrook and Councilmembers Bloom, Katz and O’Connor voted to eliminate the city’s strong ethics law, approved by 59% of the voters in 2000. Councilmember McKeown voted No. Mayor Pro Tem Shriver and Councilmember Genser were not present.

The current law, sponsored by volunteers with the non-profit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), bars politicians from taking campaign contributions, gifts over $50 or a job from any company they award a city contract, special tax break or other public benefit.

“Councilmembers voted last night to make kickbacks legal in Santa Monica,” said consumer advocate Carmen Balber of FTCR. “Their initiative gives the thumbs up to campaign contributions from any company that does business with the city, lets any politician go to work for a developer the day after approving its new high-rise project, and okays accepting a gift from a company the day after its multi-million dollar contract is complete.”

“The Santa Monica council has spent years trying to overturn the voter mandate that said city officials can’t reap personal rewards from people they grant taxpayer dollars or award other public benefits. This time, they’ve bulldozed a last-minute measure onto the ballot in the hopes of pulling the wool over the voters’ eyes,” said Balber. “Politicians lost this fight once at the ballot. They’ll lose it again when the voters don’t fall for their bait-and-switch scheme to replace Santa Monica’s strongest-in-the-nation ethics law with weak rules that every city in the state already follows.”

Pasadena Moves to Expand Anti-Corruption Protections

Santa Monica’s attempt to eliminate reform is the opposite of action taken by the city of Pasadena on Monday night, where the council placed a measure on the ballot that will expand that city’s identical anti-corruption law. A Pasadena task force, chaired by former state attorney general John Van de Kamp, developed the plan to add to the city’s ethics protections. It will also go to voters in November. Pasadena’s measure includes a ban on campaign contributions to members of the city council from companies that are competing for a city contract.

Santa Monica’s initiative would eliminate the city’s ban on taking campaign cash from companies awarded city business, the revolving door rule that prevents councilmembers from taking a job from a company they award taxpayer dollars, and the gift ban that prevents a kickback after a company has received a public contract or other award of tax dollars.

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Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
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