Debt Consolidation

National Resource Center for State & Local Campaign Finance Reform

Posted on: June 11, 2008
Written by: UWSA Staff
A Center for Governmental Studies Project
10951 West Pico Blvd., Suite 206 * Los Angeles, CA 90064
Tel: (310) 470-6590

Question: What would be the impact of the California Political Reform Initiative and the proposed CalPIRG initiative on local campaign finance programs in selected municipalities?


The California Political Reform (CPR) initiative is sponsored by many of the same groups and individuals who have supported campaign reform ordinances in several California municipalities and counties. Thus, the CPR measure has been designed not to obstruct or fundamentally change most of these local ordinances. For candidates agreeing to spending limits in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach, the CPR initiative sets the contribution limits at $500 or less per election, $250 or less for candidates not agreeing to spending ceilings (local governing bodies may impose lower contribution limits at any time), with the added flexibility that these limits may be set higher if approved by a municipal vote. Maximum spending ceilings are set sufficiently high to accommodate the existing municipal ceilings.

The proposed CalPIRG initiative is committed to a single $100 contribution limit on individuals. No exception is provided to allow municipalities to establish contribution limits above $100 for individuals, and thus the CalPIRG proposal would nullify any variable contribution limit ordinance, such as Proposition N in San Francisco and the Campaign Reform Act in Oakland. The CalPIRG initiative permits localities to pursue public financing of elections but only within the framework of contribution limits no higher than $100 per individual and spending ceilings in each jurisdiction no higher than 40 cents per voting age population. These restrictions would fundamentally change the existing public financing program in Los Angeles and pose less serious changes for the public financing program in Long Beach. In Los Angeles, for example, the CalPIRG spending ceilings would reduce existing limits by about 50% for mayor and 75% for city council races. In Long Beach, the CalPIRG proposal would primarily lower the spending ceiling in the mayoral race and change the existing contribution limits.