Newsom Signs Pro-Democracy Bill Ending Local Pay-to-Play Politics

SB 1439 ensures politicians are working for Californians, not special interests

Sacramento, CA – Governor Gavin Newsom just announced the signing of a key pro-democracy bill sponsored by California Common Cause. SB 1439, authored by Democratic Sen. Steve Glazer and co-authored by Republican Sen. Scott Wilk, helps put an end to pay-to-play politics at the local level.

“Our democracy belongs to the people, not the highest bidder,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, Executive Director of California Common Cause. “This legislation gives power back to Californians by holding our local leaders accountable to the people they serve.”

SB 1439 will help mitigate pay-to-play scandals by closing loopholes that currently allow local representatives to accept large campaign contributions from special interests that have business before them. This legislation aims to prevent scandals that have made recent headlines throughout the state. In the City of Lynwood, for example, city council candidates in 2018 were allegedly asked to sign a pledge card supporting a local cannabis association’s proposals in exchange for a $15,000 campaign contribution. Under SB 1439, any local officials who received a campaign contribution of over $250 in the 12 months prior to the decision would have to disclose that fact on the record and either recuse themselves from the decision-making process or return the money within a specified time frame. 

Also under SB 1439, a local official would not be allowed to accept a campaign contribution over $250 from a special interest entity while that entity has business before the official, and for 12 months after. 

“Californians need to know that the representatives they’ve elected are serving the public interest, not special interests,” said Laurel Brodzinsky, California Common Cause’s Legislative Director. “This is a huge win for restoring trust in our democracy.”

At a time when our democracy is in peril at the national level, California continues to cut a different path, building a better democracy from the ground up. With SB 1439 signed into law, California has made it clear it prioritizes people over special interests.

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