Proposition debates heat up as election nears

The Associated Press
Monday October 09, 2000

SACRAMENTO — Common Cause and the League of Women Voters call a campaign finance measure on next month’s ballot “dishonest and deceptive.” Supporters say Proposition 34 is the best California can do without changing the state constitution. 

The proposition was one of three debated Friday at a California Society of Association Executives event. 

Also discussed were measures that would let parents use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools and allow state and local government to use private contractors for public works projects. 

Proposition 34 would place limits on California’s now virtually unlimited campaign contributions. 

The measure would limit donations to political candidates in legislative elections to $3,000; put a $5,000 cap on statewide office elections; and would limit individual donations to gubernatorial candidates to $20,000. 

The proposal would repeal most of Proposition 208, a tougher 1996 voter-approved campaign finance initiative that has been blocked in federal court, said Jim Knox of California Common Cause. 

Proposition 34 is “the most dishonest and deceptive measure” before voters this November, Knox said. “This is a deliberate attempt to deceive voters.” 

The measure is presented as a good-government proposal, but would actually do little to eliminate special-interest influence, Knox said. 

And many voters probably do not realize that approving Proposition 34 would strike down the tougher 208, which is pending in court, he said. 

The measure, passed by the Legislature, is supported by both major political parties and was drafted by an attorney for the Democratic Party, Lance Olson. 

Olson defended the measure, saying that voters have approved campaign finance limits before, but they had been struck down by courts as unconstitutional. Proposition 208’s contribution limits have been ruled too strict to let candidates get their message out. 

Olson said he crafted Proposition 34 so it would withstand a court challenge. 

“The system in California is completely wide-open in terms of contributions,” Olson said. “There are no limits on what people can give candidates.” 

Also debated was Proposition 38, a constitutional amendment that would give parents $4,000 to send a child to a private school, regardless of family income. 

“We must break up the government monopoly of education,” said John Stoos, a legislative consultant representing the voucher campaign. 

The initiative is sponsored by Redwood City venture capitalist Tim Draper, who gave the campaign nearly $18.1 million in loans and stock as of the end of September, the latest reporting period. The “yes” campaign has spent at least $19.9 million so far. 

On the Net: 

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