Center for Governmental Studies

10951 West Pico Blvd., Suite 120 Los Angeles, CA 90064

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 3, 2007 CONTACTS: Steve Levin, (310) 470-6590, ext. 115 Robert Stern, (310) 470-6590, ext. 117 Nancy Volpert, (310) 470-6590, ext. 126

New CGS Report Finds CA Prop 34 Fails to Deliver
CGS Report Recommends Overhaul of California’s Campaign Finance Laws
Los Angeles, CA . . . The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) today released In the Dead of the Night: How Midnight Legislation Weakened California’s Campaign Finance Laws, and How to Strengthen Them, the first comprehensive analysis of California’s Proposition 34. Placed on the ballot by the legislature in November 2000, Prop. 34 left California with exceedingly high contribution limits that have done little to reduce the impact of money on state politics.

In the Dead of the Night describes how the California Legislature, in a midnight legislative session, placed Prop. 34 on the ballot to undercut a stronger measure, Prop. 208, enacted by voters in 1996. “This report shows that Proposition 34 appears to have accomplished exactly what legislators wanted it to accomplish,” said Robert Stern, CGS President. “It eviscerated the stronger contribution limits and campaign finance laws approved by the voters in Proposition 208. Contribution levels after Prop. 34 have been approximately the same as without any contribution limits.”

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- 2-2-2The CGS analysis of legislative races between 1998 and 2004 supports the conclusion that wealthy individuals and special interests continue to dominate contributions to state candidates and officeholders. Despite Prop. 34’s enactment, non-individuals (including PACs, corporations and political parties) still give in much higher ratios than individuals, and large contributions (i.e., contributions of $1,000 or more) continue to outnumber small contributions to legislative candidates.

The report examines the history of the state’s campaign finance laws and makes specific recommendations to improve California’s campaign finance system. In the Dead of the Night concludes that: • • • Candidate contribution limits imposed by Proposition 34 are too high; State political parties have become conduits for large contributions to candidates; and Contributions in non-election years often serve as governmental access or special treatment money which primarily benefits incumbents. • Independent expenditures and spending by wealthy candidates are a significant challenge.

In the Dead of the Night also proposes a series of reforms to improve California’s campaign finance laws. They include: • • • • Lowering contributions to candidates; Extending contribution limits to political parties; Imposing fundraising blackout periods in non-election years; and, Improving California’s campaign disclosure website, Cal-Access.

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The Center for Governmental Studies creates innovative solutions to improve civic engagement in communities and governments. CGS uses research, advocacy, technology and education to improve the fairness of governmental policies and processes, empower the underserved to participate more effectively in their communities, improve communication between voters and candidates for office, and help implement effective public policy reforms.

In the Dead of the Night and other CGS reports on campaign finance reform and public campaign financing are available on the CGS website, www.cgs.org. Funding for this report was made possible by a generous grant from the James Irvine Foundation. The views in the study do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Irvine Foundation, and it is not responsible for any of the statements or views in the report.

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