Don't Waste Your Vote on 208. Vote Yes on Proposition 212.
208 is a well-intentioned but compromised proposal for reforming California's corrupted politics.
Its sponsors have sought for 25 years to reform campaign financing in California, yet we still have no limits. Unfortunately, intimidated by a few judges, they have now chosen to retreat from the big problems and offer small solutions.
The result? Provisions that do little more than:
208 FAILS TO REALLY LIMIT CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS
208 sets no limits on out-of-district contributions, now 80% of the campaign money flowing to California legislators. Prop. 212 limits outsiders' money to no more than 25% of a candidate's total funds.
208 allows state legislators to accept $500, and candidates for Governor $1,000, from wealthy contributors. Prop. 212 limits contributions to $100 for state legislators and $200 for statewide races.
208 fails to ban corporate and union contributions, which even the notoriously weak federal campaign laws ban. 208 allows them to give $500, $1,000, and $5,000 contributions. Prop. 212 bans their money completely, as does federal law.
208 PROPOSES SPENDING LIMITS WHICH ARE MERELY VOLUNTARY, AND TOO HIGH
208 sets voluntary spending limits of $14,000,000 for Governor, $700,000 for State Senate, and $350,000 for Assembly races. These amounts double or triple under various circumstances. It's a stretch to call these limits. If 208 had been in effect in 1994, only 6 of 200 legislative candidates would have raised that much money!
208 HAS A MASSIVE LOOPHOLE
208 allows the Democratic, Republican, and other parties to accept contributions of $5,000 from corporations, unions, PACs, and rich individuals. In turn, the parties can contribute up to $1,050,000 to Assembly candidates, $2,100,000 to Senate candidates, and $28,000,000 to candidates for Governor. This allows special interests to get around contribution limits entirely, defeating the whole purpose of campaign reform.
Prop. 212 limits contributions from parties to candidates to $100 ($200 for Governor and other statewide offices).
208 LEGISLATES AN ADVANTAGE FOR MONEYED INTERESTS
208 actually takes one giant step backwards. It encourages candidates to accept voluntary spending limits by offering a bizarre incentive: allowing candidates to double the size of checks they can accept from wealthy corporations and individuals.
This gives an unfair advantage to candidates able to attract $1,000 contributions from Sacramento insiders and special interests seeking influence. It punishes grassroots candidates trying to raise money from friends, co-workers, and neighbors. How many of your friends and neighbors give $1,000 to a candidate? Real reform should level the playing field. 208 doesn't.
Good intentions aren't good enough. We need tough reform.
DON'T WASTE YOUR VOTE ON 208. VOTE YES FOR PROPOSITION 212.
DR. CAROL EDWARDS
Professor of Law and Legal Ethics