Candidate-controlled ballot measure committee (California)

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A candidate-controlled ballot measure committee is a campaign committee that is established to raise and spend money on behalf of one or more ballot measure in California, and that is under the legal control of a political candidate.

Candidate-controlled ballot measure committees are different from regular ballot measure committees because they are controlled by people who at one time or another have been or will be a candidate for public office in California.

Candidate-controlled ballot measure committees are a subject of political interest in California because donors can give unlimited contributions to ballot measure committees, whereas the amount that donors can give to regular candidate committees is capped at a much lower amount. Some political observers believe that politicians solicit large donations to the ballot measure committees they control, and then use those ballot measure committees for a variety of purposes, some of which involve promoting the public image and brand-name recognition of the candidate. The FPPC tried to cap the amount that could be donated to candidate-controlled ballot measure committees in 2004, but was rebuffed by the courts.

In January 2009, the FPPC adopted new rules to try to stop ballot measure committees controlled by elected officials from promoting the officials rather than the ballot measures they are supposed to have been set up to promote.[1]

Regulation 18530.9

Candidate-controlled ballot measures committees are regulated by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). In June 2004, the FPPC issued Regulation 18530.9. Regulation 18530.9 said that the same contribution limit should apply to candidate-controlled ballot measure committees that applied to regular candidate campaign committees. In June 2004, that limit was $22,300 for contributions to candidates for governor, and less for candidates for most other state races.

In February 2005, Citizens to Save California, Keith Richman (a member of the California General Assembly), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team, Senator John Campbell, and the campaign committees Rescue California from Budget Deficits and Taxpayers for Responsible Pensions, sued the FPPC claiming that Regulation 18530.9 was unconstitutional. The plaintiffs won at the Superior Court level in March 2005. The FPPC appealed to a higher court. The higher court affirmed the lower court's decision in favor of the plaintiffs in December 2006.[2]

"Money Train"

In April 2009, the FPPC published a report it called "The Billion Dollar Money Train." The report says that contributions to candidate-controlled ballot measure committees increased more than 200,000-percent from 2001 through 2006.[3]


The disputed ad

The California Democratic Party filed a complaint with the FPPC in July 2009 alleging that Arnold Schwarzenegger improperly used funds from a ballot measure committee he controls, the California Dream Team, to pay for television ads that support his position on the state's 2009 budget crisis.

According to state Democratic Party Chairman John Burton, "...the governor’s ad refers repeatedly to state budget negotiations rather than any current or anticipated ballot measure...The ads should be taken off the air. They violate the regulations of the FPPC."[1]

Fred Lowell, legal counsel for California Dream Team, responded to the complaint, saying, "Gov. Schwarzenegger’s California Dream Team is also expressly permitted to expend its funds in the context of potential ballot measures which are anticipated."[1]

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