LOS ANGELES — After years of advocacy, California Common Cause commends the city of Los Angeles for strengthening its public matching fund program for city council and city-wide campaigns. Beginning today, January 28, eligible city candidates can qualify for a $6 to $1 public match for campaign contributions up to $114. That means a donation from an ordinary, in-district resident could amount to the maximum amount given by a wealthy, out-of-district special interest donor ($800). The move also aligns Los Angeles with cities like New York where a super match has contributed to more diversity in donors and elected officials.
The changes also going into effect today include:
Lowering the aggregate qualifying threshold from $25,000 to $20,000 for candidates to become eligible to receive matching funds
Reducing the number of donations required for eligibility from 200 to 100
Requiring participation in a public debate or town hall event for candidates to receive public matching funds
Increasing the amount of funds available to candidates to $151,000 for the primary election and $189,000 for the general election in 2019, with amounts adjusting with CPI going forward
“The super match rate is a big step forward for LA’s public financing program,” said Rey López-Calderón, the executive director of California Common Cause. “The super match gives a megaphone to ordinary people who are tired of having their voices drowned out by wealthy, special interests and out-of-town lobbyists.”
While Common Cause applauds the super match, we recommend two additional changes to the program. First, the program should define public debate and town hall so that the events are open to the public, media and opposing candidates. Second, candidates should only need to raise $11,400 to qualify for the matching funds, rather than $20,000. The lower amount is the equivalent of 100 contributions of $114, an easier qualifying hurdle for non-traditional candidates.
“We commend the city for implementing the super match and will continue to work alongside the Ethics Commission and City Council to ensure the system engages candidates and donors who represent our city,” López-Calderón said.