Change election rules

sfnative's picture

We really should make all elections publicly funded.  We need to make it a crime for any company to contribute or lobby any elected official, the same way it's illegal to 'contribute' to any other government employee (why is it a 'bribe' if you gain influence through contributions to your local public works decision maker, but it's called 'lobbying' if you do the same for an elected official).  It should be illegal, punishable under the law, for any company or organization to channel any funds, gifts or favors to an elected official, either before, during or even after they have served their terms.  Any individual who facilitated such a donation should also be held accountable, and the CEO, owner or general manager of the aforementioned company will also be held criminally liable whether they were aware of such behavior or not (deniability is not a defense).  Also, any elected official receiving such contributions will also be held criminally liable.  In return, any term limits on government officials should be increased or lifted to allow an elected official the ability to make continued contributions to the community if their constituents see fit.

NinerFan's picture

No, no and no!!

Public financing is NOT the solution.  We have had public financing in SF elections for a little while now, and all it has done is to allow people with no experience or qualifications to run for office.  I mean seriously, a district supervisors race with 11 candidates??!!  I don't want my tax money going to fund campaigns for fringe candidates so any Joe on the corner can decide they will run for office.  I think it is good to have a variety of people to be able to chose from -- but there needs to be some standards.  Public money should be spent on things we actually need -- infrastructure upgrades, schools, social services, street cleaning, park maintenance, gardeners, police, fire, etc.--not to help fund some crazy person or some person with absolutely no shot at winning from running.  If those candidates want to run for office, it is their right and I wholeheartedly support that right, but I don't want to fund it.  It is my choice on who I will support (financially), I don't want it to be forced upon me.

Calum Cameron's picture

elections bought and sold

Whether or not public financing is the answer, campaign contribution rules have to be reformed. They need to be written extremely carefully so that limits on individual donations can not be circumvented by creating non-profit organizations through which funds are then contributed. To enact such comprehensive changes, whether at a city, state or national level demands strong electorate will. After all those who write the legislation have already made it in to office, often with the help of such contributions. We must not allow elections to be bought and sold with corporate gold...

Calum Cameron's picture

something to think about

Do we want our representative to be there from virtue of ability and integrity, or wealth and vested interests?

ExcelsiorMom's picture

Stop public financing

I also think that public financing is not the answer.  It really irks me that tax money is spent on campaigns.  I work hard for my mediocre salary and living in the Bay Area is not cheap.  I don't mind paying for taxes, but I'd rather that be spent on fixing up that bathroom at my local park, one more teacher, a new or updated MUNI bus, etc. rather than contributing to some mail piece or sign for a "candidate" for local office who may at most get 1000 votes. 

Also, while I agree that we need to reform our public financing laws,  it is a little more complicated than simply a local issue.  There is something called free speech and the US Supreme Court has decided that contributions to campaigns is speech that is fully protected by the Constitution. 

bobbyh's picture

No public financing

I agree with others here that have problems with public financing.  I just cant get over the fact that my hard earned dollars are going to political hopefuls trying to advance their careers.  Didn't some guy named Chicken run last year and draw thousands of dollars from the City's public financing system to run a mock campaign to get himself some headlines?  What a joke.

I would love to see someone run a publicly financed campaign in San Francisco with the sole purpose of demonstrating how much money people take from this system--i.e. draw down the public dollars and use it to run ads saying "this is your tax dollars at work"--to wake people up on this issue.  Maybe that will trigger enough of a ground swell to mount a campaign to get rid of public financing.

I think NinerFan said it best with: "It is my choice on who I will support (financially), I don't want it to be forced upon me." 

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137