Hancock’s Clean Money Bill Vulnerable to Veto By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday January 31, 2006

California State Assemblymember Loni Hancock’s (D-Berkeley) public campaign finance bill passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week on a straight-line party vote, leaving it vulnerable to a possible veto by Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

The Appropriations Committee’s 13 Democrats approved the proposed measure, while its five Republicans opposed it. The bill now goes to the full Assembly, but without some measure of Republican support in both the Assembly and the State Senate, the measure could not get the two-thirds vote necessary to overcome a veto. 

But Hancock’s office was upbeat about the conference passage. 

“The public has lost faith in its elected officials,” the assemblymember said in a statement. “The cost of implementing this program pales in comparison to the cost of doing nothing. We must reform our electoral system and re-establish trust with the voters.” 

Hancock said she introduced the Clean Money legislation to provide a clear alternative to the influence of big money in California politics. 

“At a time when we are making budget decisions that will shape the future of every human being in our state, at a time where scandal on Capitol Hill has shown the abuses of special interest money, we can no longer ignore the corrosive influence of money on the legislative process,” she said. “Clean Money—public financing of campaigns—is an idea whose time has come.” 

Hancock’s bill would provide public money for qualifying candidates for state office, both in primaries and in general elections, from $150,000 for assembly candidates in a party primary up to $10 million for gubernatorial candidates in a general election. To qualify for the public money, candidates would have to produce a combination of petition signatures and campaign contributions in small amounts, and would have to agree not to receive any outside contributions once the public contributions kick in. 

Public campaign financing “clean money” laws are already in operation in Maine and Arizona. 

Some critics have accused public financing proposals similar to Hancock’s of being favorable to incumbents and to major party candidates. 

The provisions of Hancock’s bill are similar to those introduced to Berkeley voters under Measure H by Hancock’s spouse, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, in November 2004. That measure lost badly, 59 percent to 41 percent.?