Monday, March 13, 2023

OP-ED: Ventura County campaign limit change criticized

A state lawmaker and local leader of Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources urged residents to speak out against an intiative by two Ventura County Supervisors to raise political campaign limits.

Steve Bennett​​​​​ and Linda Parks, the Executive Director of SOAR and former Ventura County Supervisor, said in a joint op-ed that:

Ventura County has had a successful campaign reform law in place for the last two decades, which limits campaign contributions to $750 and has strict transparency and accountability requirements to prevent manipulations by big money donors. 

However, Supervisors Jeff Gorell and Janice Parvin are proposing to eliminate the county's campaign finance ordinance, which would increase contribution limits from $750 to the statewide limit of $5,500. This move would drown out the voices of average citizens and give big money donors more direct influence over supervisors.

The supervisors' argument that the local ordinance is no longer necessary because of state limits is unconvincing. In fact, 25 counties in California currently apply both state and local laws simultaneously to decrease the influence of big money in politics. Gorell and Parvin's claim that a new state law prohibiting voting on a project if a donation of more than $250 has been received in the past 12 months is also easily circumvented.

Eliminating the current law and reducing transparency and expenditure limits would increase the amount of money flowing into supervisors' campaigns and give big money interests more control. It could all be lost if three votes pass on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at the Ventura County Board of Supervisors hearing room. Citizens who want to preserve the current law should attend the hearing or send an email to the Clerk of the Board expressing opposition.

The campaign reform law has made Ventura County a special place in California and reduced the influence of big money in politics, giving average citizens a stronger voice over special interests. The arguments for repealing the ordinance are weak and do not reflect the county's standards and values. It's crucial to keep both state and local laws in effect to decrease the influence of big money and protect the most disadvantaged. Source: Ventura County Star

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