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County Political Contribution Changes Considered

county_seal_copy_copy_copyA Los Angeles County Ordinance designed to fight potential campaign finance corruption could undergo major adjustments if approved by the County Board of Supervisors.

The current ordinance precludes PACs (Political Action Committees) and political parties from making contributions to county candidates.

That would change under a recommendation from County Counsel Andrea Sheridan Ordin who believes the adjustment is necessary to create a “proper balance between First Amendment associational rights and the County's interest in addressing corruption or the perception thereof.”

 


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The current ordinance also prohibits inter- and intra-candidate transfers.

Under the proposed adjustments inter-candidate transfers would be treated the same as individual contributions, thereby placing a reasonable limit on contributions from candidates in different offices.

Intra-candidate transfers, the transfer of funds from a candidate's prior campaign account, would be subject to appropriate regulatory measures such as attributing those funds on a last-in, first-out basis.

“These amendments again, are focused on balancing the First Amendment rights afforded

political speech while continuing to promote the ordinance's purpose,” Ordin stated.

In order to reflect cost of living changes the follow increases are being proposed:

  • Increase existing individual contribution limits to $300 for candidates who do not accept limits on campaign expenditures and to $1,500 for candidates who do accept such limits, and increase limits on contributions to officeholder and attorney fee accounts to $1,500;
  • Apply contribution limits to campaign contributions from political action committees (PACs) and place an aggregate $150,000 cap per election cycle on those contributions;
  • Subject campaign contributions from political parties to a $6,500 contribution limit per candidate per election cycle

According to County Council the recommended increase in the various contribution limits was calculated by applying the formula the Fair Political Practices Commission uses for state elections.

That process calls for adjusting the existing limits by multiplying them by the annual

California Consumer Price Index , then dividing that figure by the base CPI from 1996 to present, and finally rounding to the nearest one hundred dollars.

Prop B, the Los Angeles County Campaign Finance Ordinance, was approved by the voters in 1996 to regulate campaign contributions to candidates for elective County offices. The ordinance has not been amended since adoption in 1996.

The Supervisors are expected to allow introduction of the County Counsel recommendation at next Tuesday’s board meeting and then place the item on a future agenda.