Some Cities Limit Campaign Contributions

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Strict Standards: Lake Elsinore Heeds State Laws, But Tougher Rules Exist That Ban Developer Donations.

While Lake Elsinore officials have been content with the state law that
governs campaign contributions, other cities have adopted stricter

Pasadena, San Francisco, Santa Monica and Claremont voters adopted the rules known as Taxpayer Protection Acts in 2000 and 2001. The state courts upheld the laws in 2005.

"These laws, while not perfect, were a step in the right direction," said Bob Stern, the author of the Political Reform Act of 1974.

In Pasadena, the laws prohibit individuals or businesses that have done
more than $25,000 worth of business with the city from making campaign
contributions to local officials, including City Council and commission
members. The rules apply to public officials for a year after they
leave office and for five years after they approve a contract.

The laws would apply to home builders and land developers, said Carmen Balber of the Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog, which sponsored the taxpayer initiatives.

"The laws limit the receipt of contributions from anyone the City Council has been responsible for awarding a public benefit," Balber said.

The Lake Elsinore City Council adopted a new campaign-finance regulation in 2005 that called for disclosure forms to be available on the city’s Web
site. For the most part, however, the council did not want to adopt
laws that differed from the state because it could cause undue confusion, City Attorney Barbara Leibold said.

Lake Elsinore Councilmen Daryl Hickman, Thomas Buckley and Robert Magee, who received a total $50,000 in campaign contributions from developers
around the time they voted on the developers’ projects, said they would
be willing to explore stricter campaign-finance regulations, including
disclosing at meetings if they have accepted campaign contributions
from a project applicant.

Buckley, however, said he would likely stop short of setting campaign caps.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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