Taxpayer Protection Amendment

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What It Is

The Taxpayer Protection Amendment (TPA) prevents a conflict of interest between public officials and those with whom these officials do business.

Specifically, the TPA prohibits a public official from receiving campaign donations, gifts or employment from anyone benefiting from the official’s discretionary actions (i.e. awarding public funds or assets such as a city contract, special tax break, or land zoning change). The TPA forces a public official to represent the interests of the public and not the special interests of a potential contributor.

When and Where the TPA was on the ballot

The TPA passed overwhelmingly in Santa Monica with 58% of the vote, 59% in Vista and 82% in San Francisco in November 2000. Voters in Pasadena and Claremont approved the measure with 60% and 55% of the vote, respectively, in March 2001.

To whom does the measure apply?

Who cannot donate to certain candidates? The TPA does not prohibit the giving of donations or other favors. It prohibits an official from taking money, gifts or jobs from anybody that the official has voted to give one of the above benefits. The prohibition on who the official cannot take money from extends to major stockholders and owners of companies or organizations that the official votes to give one of the above benefits.

The measure is in force even if the individual or group does not ultimately gain the contract or special benefit. The official’s vote is the trigger.

Who is considered a “public official” under our law? A “public official” is any elected or appointed public official acting in an official capacity . It also applies to an official of a redevelopment agency, or any other public agency, whether within or without the territorial jurisdiction of the City and County either as a representative or appointee of the City and County.

Our law covers only those officials who make a discretionary decision to award one of the above benefits to an individual or group.

How long does the prohibition on accepting contributions last?

The prohibition begins on the date that the official votes to approve the public benefit and ends no later than

1. one year after the expiration of the term of office that the official is serving at the time the official approves or votes to approve the public benefit;

2. one year after the official’s departure from his or her office whether or not there is a pre-established term of office; or

3. five years from the date the official approves or votes to approve the public benefit; whichever is first.

How will the law be promoted?

The City and County shall provide any person applying or competing for a benefit (as listed above) with written notice of the provisions of this measure and the future limitations it imposes.

What are the penalties for violating the law?

Any knowing and willful violation of this measure by a public official constitutes a criminal misdemeanor offense. A finding of liability shall subject the public official to the following civil remedies:

1. restitution of any money or thing of value received;

2. a civil penalty of up to five times the value of the money received;

3. injunctive relief necessary to prevent present and future violations of the law;

disqualification from future public office or position within the jurisdiction, if violations are willful, egregious, or repeated.

Who will enforce the measure?

A civil action may be brought by any resident of the City and County.

Who endorsed the TPA?

Several individuals and organizations including Ralph Nader, the Sierra Club and the good government group California Common Cause.

Who sponsored the TPA?

The TPA is sponsored by the Oaks Project, an all-volunteer citizens group trained in practical political skills. These volunteers gathered 100% of the over 67,000 signatures needed to place this measure on the ballot in five cities across California. Click here to volunteer.

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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