LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
Campaign Expenditure Limit
City of San Francisco
Majority Vote Required
Index of all Measures
|Infomation shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Yes/No Meaning | Arguments |
Shall the City set voluntary spending limits for candidates running for the Board
of Supervisors by district at $75,000 for the general election and $20,000 for a
Beginning in 2000, members of the Board will be elected by district. If no candidate from a district receives a majority of the vote, the two candidates who received the highest numbers of votes will compete in a run-off election.
The San Francisco Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance includes a system of voluntary spending caps for candidates for City office. Candidates who agree not to spend more than the amount of the spending caps on their campaigns are allowed to accept larger donations than candidates who do not agree. The spending cap for Board candidates elected at large is $250,000 for the general election.
THE PROPOSAL: Proposition K is an ordinance that would lower the voluntary spending caps for district supervisors. A candidate for supervisor who agreed to the spending cap in a general election could not spend more than $75,000 on his or her campaign. A candidate for supervisor who agreed to the spending cap in a run-off election could not spend more than $20,000 on his or her campaign.
League of Women Voters
|Arguments For Proposition K
|Arguments Against Proposition K
|In anticipation of the change from City-wide to district
elections for Supervisors, the San Francisco Ethics Commission
proposes reducing the current voluntary spending limit for
candidates for the Board of Supervisors from $250,000 to
$75,000 beginning in the year 2000. The Commission also
proposes establishing a voluntary spending limit of $20,000 for
district run-off elections for the Board.
Under San Francisco's existing campaign law, candidates for the Board of Supervisors who voluntarily limit their spending to $250,000 may accept contributions of up to $500 per contributor. Candidates who do not agree to comply with the spending cap may accept contributions of up to $150 per contributor.
Until recently, candidates for the Board of Supervisors were selected in City-wide general elections. The candidates who received the highest number of votes in the general election were elected. There were no run-off elections. Starting in November 2000, Supervisors will be elected by district. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast within the district in the general election, a run-off election will be required. Each district is approximately one-eleventh the size of the City.
The Ethics Commission conducted public hearings to determine whether the $250,000 spending cap established for City-wide elections should be changed. The Commission gathered extensive information regarding the cost of conducting election campaigns in San Francisco and determined that candidates would need significantly less money to communicate with voters in a single district than they would need in a City-wide election.
The Ethics Commission proposes these changes based on its determination that $75,000 and $20,000 enable a candidate, in a district that is one-eleventh the size of the City, to communicate with voters about the range of issues within the Board of Supervisors' jurisdiction.
San Francisco Ethics Commission
While the Mayor-appointed "Ethics Commission" argued for Proposition K, the 8/18/99 San Francisco Chronicle published "A Strategic Plan to Enhance the Re-election of Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr."
The "Strategic Plan" called for the massive use of "independent" organizations – including churches – to reelect the Mayor. Claimed Fred Hamdun, Brown's campaign manager: "It's an independent effort, and anyone doing this is doing it on their own."
"[T]he list of people behind the effort...", reported the
Chronicle, "is larded with Brown's supporters. The man coordinating
the drive, Ron Jackson, was an organizer for the union-backed
Labor/Neighbor effort that pulled votes for Brown in
According to the Chronicle, the jails are an important Willie Brown target under the "Strategic Plan":
"Workers should go to jails to register nonfelons, who remain eligible to vote, the document states, and then make sure they apply for absentee ballots and turn them in... "Contact halfway houses, transitional housing and residential drug treatment programs regarding voter registration....Every African American church will be asked to designate a voter registration captain to work within the church," the document said."
The document didn't mention that the Christian Crusade lost its non-profit IRS status for engaging in partisan politics. The authors of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment also prudently insisted that churches stay out of government – for their own protection.
Proposition K, by failing to control "independent" spending, is a fraud.
Dr. Terence Faulkner, J.D.
|PROPOSITION K (SO-CALLED "CAMPAIGN EXPENDITURE
LIMITS") FAILS TO LIMIT SO-CALLED "INDEPENDENT
Without limiting the spending of so-called "independent committees", the voluntary "caps" set forth in Proposition K are a sham that will only help incumbents and hurt the fund raising and spending of those running against Supervisorial district incumbents.
EXAMPLE: THE LITIGATION-TROUBLED SO-CALLED "INDEPENDENT" SAN FRANCISCO DEMOCRATIC COUNTY CENTRAL COMMITTEE RAISED $409,391 IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF 1999:
Opposing the 1991 Gulf War and the United States Government's attempts to halt Iraq's unjustified military occupation of Kuwait, the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee is a far-leftist group that has had a court-disputed Chairmanship election and further on-going litigation over the allegedly illegal removal from office of duly-elected Central Committee members. The group has lost an estimated $50,000 or so in continuing litigation costs over its questionable election tactics, Judge Ray Williamson at one point even ordering Chairwoman Natalie Berg out of office and requiring new elections after she had been removed from her post for several weeks in 1998.
In any event, this Willie Brown-backed so-called "independent committee" raised $409,391 in the first six months of 1999. Donors included Atlantic Richfield ($5,000), Bechtel Infrastructure Corporation ($5,000), Catellus [Mission Bay] Development ($2,000), Embarcadero Center/Boston Properties ($2,000), Emerald Fund ($10,000), Red and White Fleet's Thomas Escher ($10,000), wine's Ernest Gallo ($10,000), Norcal Waste Systems Inc. PAC ($15,000), Operating Engineers Local No. 3 Statewide PAC ($15,000), Pacific Gas and Electric ($5,000), Pacific Telesis Group ($5,000), Residential Builders of San Francisco PAC ($5,000), San Francisco Fire Firefighters PAC ($5,000), and many more.
These donors are clearly trying to influence local politics, Mayor Brown's re-election, the re-election of Brown's six appointed Supervisors, etc.
Golden Gate Taxpayers' Association
The Opponent's Argument suggests that the proposed measure fails to address spending by "independent committees." The limited purpose of Proposition K is to adjust the voluntary spending limits for supervisorial candidates, in light of the impending change to district elections. The Ethics Commission heard extensive public testimony and carefully researched the cost of conducting elections in San Francisco. The Commission determined that the proposed voluntary spending limits set forth in Proposition K are sufficient for a candidate for the Board of Supervisors to communicate his or her message to the voters at the district level.
The Opponent's Argument also appears to suggest that the measure is sponsored by a political party, candidate or corporate donor. Proposition K was proposed solely by the San Francisco Ethics Commission, not by any political party, candidate or corporate donor.
San Francisco Ethics Commission
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