Study says campaign donation limits weak

first_imgSACRAMENTO – The campaign-contribution limits approved by California voters in 2000 are too weak and have done little to stem the flow of large donations from wealthy individuals, corporations and interest groups to state candidates, a political think tank said Friday. The Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles said contributions of more than $3,000 still make up more than 60 percent of the donations to legislative candidates despite the controls imposed by Proposition 34. Although the study focused on legislative races, it suggests that the same situation exists in campaigns for statewide office. Center President Robert Stern said Proposition 34 provided only a “fig leaf of reform.” “We think it was designed to leave the situation basically as it was before contribution limits,” he said in an interview. The initiative was placed on the ballot by lawmakers and then-Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat. It replaced tougher limits approved by voters in 1996 as Proposition 208 and gave California the second-highest contribution limits in the nation, according to the study. Proposition 208’s caps were struck down by a federal judge. But some lawmakers feared that higher courts would reinstate the measure and wanted voters to approve higher donation limits that would supersede Proposition 208’s controls, the study said. Proposition 208 allowed most donors to give no more than $250 per election to legislative candidates and $500 per election to statewide candidates. The limits were twice those amounts if candidates agreed to spending caps or if the money came from so-called small-contributor committees – groups of donors who chipped in modest amounts. Proposition 34 initially allowed most donors to give per-election contributions of up to $20,000 for governor, $5,000 for other statewide candidates and $3,000 to legislative candidates. Those limits have since been raised to $24,100 for governor, $6,000 for other statewide candidates and $3,600 for legislative candidates to keep up with inflation. Small-contributor committees can give twice the usual limits to legislative and statewide candidates other than governor. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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