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Los Angeles

Secession Exempt From Cap

June 04, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The state Fair Political Practices Commission confirmed Monday that no limits on campaign fund-raising will apply to the Nov. 5 secession election and candidates seeking office in a proposed San Fernando Valley city.

The commission's ruling would also extend to a secession election and candidates for a proposed Hollywood city, which, like the Valley, would be carved from Los Angeles. The Local Agency Formation Commission is set to decide Wednesday whether to put the Hollywood plan on the same citywide ballot.

The Los Angeles County counsel's office, advising LAFCO, made a preliminary finding in February that nothing in a voter-approved law capping financial contributions applies to the campaigns for and against secession. The office said the 2000 law also would have no bearing on candidates running for mayor and city council in a proposed municipality.

The commission backed the county counsel's position Monday.

Proposition 34 limits individual contributions to $3,000. It did not envision secession elections, which follow state procedures but are considered local contests when it comes to fund-raising rules.

In an advice letter sought by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, commission attorneys said the city's limits also would not apply to the secession campaigns and candidates. The attorneys said the candidates would be required only to file financial disclosure statements.

Advocates of campaign-finance restrictions said the lack of limits gives donors a chance to peddle influence in the secession election.

"It means that candidates can receive unlimited amounts from people who have potential business before the new city," said Bob Stern, who heads the Center for Governmental Studies.

Mayor James K. Hahn has said he intends to raise $5 million to fight secession. Leaders of the breakaway movements say they hope to collect $4 million.

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