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Public Campaign Financing

Robert Wechsler
In a recent blog post, the background issue was the effect of independent spending on a local public campaign financing program in Santa Fe.

Especially in the shadow of recent Supreme Court decisions, this is currently a serious problem for many local public campaign financing programs, and is a potential problem for all of them. In public testimony to the New York...
Robert Wechsler
Since most local ethics commissions do not have the authority to initiate their own investigations or draft their own complaints (although in many cases this authority is not expressly withheld), there is a special role that former EC members, especially chairs, can play:  filing complaints that no one else will file.

According to a Santa Fe Reporter blog post this week, a...
Robert Wechsler
In my estimation, Seattle voters made a big mistake last week. They voted for two related changes to their government. One was a public campaign financing program for citywide council elections. The other was a change from citywide council elections to district council elections, which would leave only two citywide positions.

Public financing was rejected 51.6% vs. 48.4%. Council districts were accepted 65.6% vs. 34.4%. Both votes will lead to more institutional corruption in...
Robert Wechsler
Update: February 7, 2014
It took the Jon Stewart Show three months to catch up with the City Ethics blog, but it was worth the wait. You have to watch the video they made about the Coralville, IA situation I discuss below. The defense of what occurred is truly incredible.

There has always been independent spending in local elections, and it has always been (and been seen as) a source of...
Robert Wechsler

"None of the unions ever asked me for a quid pro quo. They, like anyone else who is giving, they just want to know their points get heard. They are not asking that you agree with it. They have said, ‘We don’t expect you to agree on everything. We understand it is a negotiation.’”

—Toni Harp, candidate for mayor of New Haven, CT, on the $48,000 she and the alderpersons effectively on her ticket were given by labor unions (...
Robert Wechsler
When people write about public campaign financing programs, they tend to focus on participation percentages and the size of the campaign contributions. But what is most interesting about the analysis done by the New Haven Independent of campaign contributions given to mayoral candidates participating and not participating in the city's public financing program, the New Haven...