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New Law on Election Spending Backed

September 24, 1997|RICHARD WARCHOL

A new ordinance that creates voluntary spending caps aimed at diluting the influence of big money in Ventura County political campaigns was unanimously backed Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

The ordinance has been crafted to conform with Proposition 208, a voter-approved campaign finance reform measure that took effect in January.

Proposition 208 places new limits on donations to political campaigns and offers fund-raising incentives to candidates who accept voluntary spending caps.

In jurisdictions with more than 100,000 residents, such as Ventura County, Proposition 208 sets a $250 limit on campaign contributions from individuals and a $500 limit for political action committees.

Under the new ordinance, however, if candidates in campaigns for county supervisor agree to spend no more than $1 per district resident--or about $144,000--contribution limits are doubled to up to $500 per individual or business contributor and $1,000 from any political committee.

Candidates in countywide races for the office of assessor, auditor-controller, county clerk and recorder, district attorney, sheriff, superintendent of schools or treasurer-tax collector can accept the higher contribution amounts if they agree to cap spending at 50 cents per resident, or about $358,000.

Doubting the likelihood of ever amassing an election war chest that large, Ventura County judges have decided to accept the $250 limit from individuals and $500 from PACs, County Clerk-Recorder Richard D. Dean said.

The ordinance is subject to a second reading and vote of the supervisors Oct. 7 and would take effect 30 days later.

Proposition 208 also forced the board to repeal the county's existing campaign contribution ordinance Tuesday, which set donation limits at $750 from individuals or businesses and $1,800 from committees in primary elections.

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