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Temporary Loophole Came With Prop. 34

June 02, 2002

"Huge Campaign Loophole" (editorial, May 29) asked for an explanation of the Fair Political Practices Commission's ruling that Proposition 34's contribution and expenditure limits do not apply to committees set up for elections that took place in 2000 and earlier.

Proposition 34 inadvertently created this distinction between old and new committees. To close this so-called "loophole" by regulation would have required us to choose an inconsistent reading of one provision in this complex statutory scheme. We chose instead to abide by the plain language of the provision--and, at the same time, we stated loudly and clearly that unlimited money raised through those old committees cannot be used for current elections. Moreover, we insisted that the old committees be closed when the officeholders end their current terms of office.

We made this ruling last summer after four months of heated, public debate. Our legal staff sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson's campaign treasurer reiterating what we have said all along--that the money being raised in old campaign committees cannot be given to a candidate running for office this year except in the limited amount ($3,000) provided for by Proposition 34. Like The Times, we dislike the short-term result. The commission did not want to see unlimited fund-raising continue in these old committees, and many officeholders are voluntarily abiding by the Proposition 34 limits now. These are problems of transitioning from the Wild West of our old campaign finance system into the structures and limits of Proposition 34. Every state election since Jan. 1, 2001, has been conducted completely under the Proposition 34 limits.

Karen A. Getman

Chairman, Fair Political

Practices Commission

Sacramento

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Re George Skelton's May 30 column on campaign finance: Everyone keeps focusing on attempts to limit the supply of campaign contributions and their influence. But let's not forget why the demand is there--it's because voters respond to the TV ads the campaign funding buys.

Those concerned by this could focus on getting more objective information out to the public by other means. The demand for campaign cash will continue until the publicity it purchases becomes ineffective. An informed, interested electorate is the best defense.

Carl Danner

Alamo, Calif.

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Re "Millions Flow Through Loophole in State Campaign Finance Law," May 28: Do I have this correct? Democrats get on their soapboxes to say that campaign finance reform is needed to stop the bad Republicans. Then the Democrats write the measure "unintentionally" with a loophole. All of the indoctrinated liberal voters pass it. Then the Democrats are the ones making off with huge donations, and you are all surprised! Wow, can't put one over on you guys.

Lorraine Kihm

Alta Loma

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