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Los Angeles Restriction on Campaign Contributions from City Contractors, Measure H (March 2011)

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A City of Los Angeles Restriction on Campaign Contributions from City Contractors, Measure H ballot question was on the March 8, 2011 ballot for voters in the City of Los Angeles, where it was approved.[1]

Measure H bans campaign contributions to candidates running for city offices from individuals who have bid or are bidding for city contracts of $100,000 or more.[1]

Measure H also:

  • Applies to major subcontractors
  • ."..penalizes gifts and contributions to city decision-makers by bond underwriting firms."[2]
  • ."..boosts the size of the city’s public matching funds for candidates who choose to accept public funding and abide by spending restrictions."[2]

Measure H was one of 10 ballot measures on the March 8, 2011 City of Los Angeles ballot.

Election results

Measure H
Result Votes Percentage
Approveda Yes 131,553 74.98%
No 43,904 25.02%


Election results from the Los Angeles City Clerk as of 2:44 a.m. on March 9, 2011

Support

"Yes on H" campaign logo

Supporters

The official voter guide arguments in favor of Measure H were signed by Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilman Jose Huizar. [2]

Other elected and individual signers of the Official Ballot Arguments for Measure H included:

  • Laura N. Chick (California Inspector General)
  • Charlotte Laws (Greater Valley Glen Councilmember)
  • Bob Stern (President of the Center for Governmental Studies)
  • Russ Brown (President of the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council)
  • Brad Parker (Small Business Owner)
  • Ida Mae Windham (Retired Principal of Cleveland High School)
  • Wayne Williams (Small Business Owner)
  • Isaac Burks (Retired Fireman).

Organizational endorsers of Measure H included:

Newspaper editorial boards endorsing Measure H included:

Arguments in favor

In the official voter guide/sample ballot, supporters of Measure H made these main arguments:

  • "Special Interests are always trying to buy influence at City Hall. Charter Amendment H will help stop them."
  • "Our city faces serious challenges. Our elected officials should focus on addressing them instead of spending time fundraising for their next campaign."
  • Vote YES for Charter Amendment H to rein in pay-to-play politics and change the way we finance election campaigns."

Opposition

Opponents

The official voter guide arguments opposing Measure H were signed by:

  • Greig Smith, member of the Los Angeles City Coun[2]
  • Dennis P. Zine, member of the Los Angeles City Council
  • Bernard C. Parks, member of the Los Angeles City Council
  • Jan Perry, member of the Los Angeles City Council
  • Gregory N. Lippe, immediate past chair, Valley Industry & Commerce Association
  • Carmen Trutanich, city attorney, City of Los Angeles
  • Joel Fox, president, Small Business Action Committee
  • Victoria Bourdas, former chair, North Valley Regional Chamber
  • Wayne Adelstein, president & CEO, North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Scott Sterling, owner, Sterling Construction

Arguments against

In the sample ballot, Measure H opponents made one main argument against Measure H, saying, "At a time when our city faces serious challenges: a massive budget deficit, continued threats to fire and police service, library and park closures, and crumbling infrastructure, some people think of nothing better than to spend your money on their own political campaigns. Taxpayer funded campaigns in the face of massive cuts to core services show how out of touch some people are."

They also made six more specific arguments against Measure H. They said that a "no" vote:

  • "Protect[s] your money against the City of Los Angeles giving away more of your taxpayer dollars for political campaigns."
  • "Preserves crucial taxpayer dollars at a time the City is in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and still faces a $350 million structural deficit. Now is not the time to spend more taxpayer funds to pay for political campaigns."
  • "Prevents additional cuts to overtime pay for Police Officers, more rolling brownouts for firefighters, and deeper cuts to City staff already reduced by over 3,000 employees. Now is not the time to spend more taxpayer funds to pay for political campaigns."
  • "Shields Recreation and Parks programs, youth and senior services and libraries from additional closures, and daycare centers and after-school programs from being further slashed. Now is not the time to spend more taxpayer funds to pay for political campaigns."
  • "Safeguards investment in infrastructure, tree trimming, street paving, graffiti removal and other vital services that have already been decimated by the global financial crisis from future cuts. Now is not the time to spend more taxpayer funds to pay for political campaigns."

and that:

  • "Measure H will NOT prevent special interests with deep pockets and City contracts from influencing elections through unlimited multi-million dollar independent expenditure campaigns."

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure H: Shall the Charter be amended to (1) restrict campaign contributions and fundraising by bidders on certain City contracts; require increased disclosure for bidders; and provide for bans on future contracts for violators; and (2) build upon the city's voter-approved campaign trust fund, which provides limited public matching funds for qualified City candidates who agree to spending limits, by lifting the maximum balance in the fund while allowing the City Council by a two-thirds vote to not make the annual appropriation and temporarily transfer funds to meet City budgetary obligations in certain emergency conditions?[5]

Fiscal impact statement

Miguel A. Santana, the Los Angeles City Administrative Officer, provided a fiscal impact statement for Measure H. It said:

This measure would restrict campaign contributions and fundraising and require increased disclosure by prospective City contract bidders and ban violators from future City contracts. These specific provisions of the measure are not expected to result in any additional revenue or cost to the City.

This measure eliminates the limitation currently set for the Matching Campaign Trust Fund, which is approximately $12 million. As a result, it will now require an annual contribution of approximately $3 million, subject to the change in the consumer price index. If the City Council declares a fiscal emergency and suspends the annual contribution requirement, the suspended amount would be required to be repaid when the funds are needed for its intended purpose or before the end of the subsequent year, whichever is earlier. This measure would reduce General Fund money available to fund other City functions such as public safety and/or community services.

Error in fiscal statement alleged

According to the Los Angeles Times, in a February 16, 2011 editorial, Santana's fiscal impact statement was wrong. The paper's editorial board wrote, "The fiscal analysis misleads voters and could open the outcome of the Measure H vote to legal challenge."[6]

The error in the fiscal statement, which had already been published in the city's official voter's guide and sample ballots by the time it was noticed, is the statement that if the council decides against putting money into the fund during a bad budget year, it must make up the payment by the end of the next fiscal year. ("If the City Council declares a fiscal emergency and suspends the annual contribution requirement, the suspended amount would be required to be repaid when the funds are needed for its intended purpose or before the end of the subsequent year, whichever is earlier.") In point of fact, the Los Angeles Times wrote, the city is required to make repayments to the city's Matching Campaign Trust Fund only if the city borrows money from that fund. The city is not required to pay money into the fund if it declares a fiscal emergency and suspends its annual contribution to the fund.[6]

External links

References