CA - Los Angeles - Our Democracy 2020
Common Cause uses cookies to make its websites more user-friendly, to learn more view our privacy policy.

CA – Los Angeles Questionnaire

A government of, for, and by the people. Los Angeles Elections should be fair, accessible to all grassroots candidates, uninfluenced by big-money, and result in electeds who work for the people, not moneyed interests.

Unfortunately, special interests corrupt the democratic process in Los Angeles by flooding L.A. elections with “dark money” (where the true source of a contribution is unknown), independent expenditures (money spent not in coordination with a candidate), and behested payments (charitable donations made at the request or suggestion of a candidate).

Our Democracy L.A. 2020 campaign makes sure Angelenos know where Los Angeles City Council candidates stand on corruption in local government and what they are willing to do to fix it so that democracy works for everyone in L.A., not just a select few with money, influence, and power.

Common Cause’s Democracy L.A. 2020 pledge provides a public platform for candidates to showcase their commitment to meaningful anti-corruption and campaign finance reforms that place a premium on getting big-money out of L.A. politics, preventing undue influence, leveling the political playing field, and fostering good government.

If (re)elected to the Los Angeles City Council, I pledge to…

If elected, I will endorse, prioritize and work aggressively to...

Support L.A.’s Public Matching Funds Program

Competition is good for democracy. Los Angeles’ Public Matching Funds system was instituted to increase competition in L.A. elections by lowering the barriers to entry. For every small-dollar contribution (anywhere from $5 to $114) a participating candidate receives, the City of Los Angeles will match it 6 times. This allows more grassroots candidates to enter a City race and run a viable campaign for office.

L.A.’s Public Matching Funds system also advances democracy by requiring participating candidates to limit their campaign expenditures and participate in a debate with other candidates.

We must maximize candidate participation in L.A.’s Public Matching Funds program and ensure that City Council continues to support the program over time.

Support a Ban on Corporate Contributions

Donating through a corporation, LLC, or LLP exploits a disclosure loophole that diminishes the effectiveness of L.A.’s current campaign finance laws. Not knowing the true (or human) source of a business contribution allows the same individual to exceed L.A.’s contribution limit by making multiple contributions from different business entities. This lack of full disclosure makes enforcement of campaign finance laws more difficult and denies the public relevant information for casting an informed vote.

L.A. already has bans on campaign giving from lobbyists, city contractors/bidders, and developers with business before City Hall. Banning business entities from contributing to city campaigns is the next logical step if Los Angeles is to safeguard democracy against undue influence and corruption at City Hall.

Improve the City’s Ban on Campaign Contributions from Developers

Development is big business in Los Angeles. Decisions at city hall affect a developer’s bottom line. Thus, it is not surprising that the development industry is associated with pay-to-play politics — and for good reason!

According to a 2019 Los Angeles Ethics Commission Report, “Over the past decade, 33 Ethics Commission enforcement orders have involved developers or development projects and resulted in more than $1 million in administrative penalties. These numbers represent approximately one-third of all respondents and just over half of all penalties during that time period. In addition, the Los Angeles County District Attorney has charged two developers with felony counts of campaign money laundering and bribery.”

L.A. recently passed a ban on developer contributions which is significantly weaker than the restrictions on lobbyists and city contractors/bidders. At a minimum, developers in Los Angeles should be subject to the same constraints as lobbyists and city contractors/bidders are under Measure H, which restricts fundraising activities and closes other loopholes.

Improve Transparency Surounding Behested Payments

Behested payments are payments made to a third party, often to a charity, at the request of a candidate or elected official. These payments are a common way for special interests to curry favor with politicians and buy influence at City Hall.

We must ensure that such behested payments are not abused to circumvent campaign finance law and allow for undue influence at City Hall. Enhancing the disclosure requirement on behested payments will help shine a light on who is giving to which entities at the request of candidates or elected officials. This will, in turn, help voters make informed decisions and hold influence-seekers accountable for their transactions.

Disavow Independent Expenditure Committees

Independent expenditures are the scourge of politics and good government. They provide a loophole for special interests to bypass good campaign finance laws that maintain the integrity of our elections. Unchecked independent political spending corrupts our democracy and undermines the voice of the people.

As long as SCOTUS’s Citizens United decision stands, we must improve transparency and disclosure surrounding independent political spending. Voters should have access to more detailed information about who’s behind independent expenditures to make a more informed decision at the ballot box.

Candidates for L.A. City Council should disavow the operation of independent expenditure committees and publicly reject any aid from such committees during their campaigns. Candidates should also commit to improving transparency and disclosure around independent expenditures when they’re elected to City Council.

Support Improved Redistricting Reforms

Support a fair, inclusive, and impartial redistricting process for City Council Districts, similar to the independent Citizen’s Redistricting Commission model implemented at the State level and other local jurisdictions in California.