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City Council Approves Ordinance on Campaign Finance Reform

June 28, 2003|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles City Council voted final approval Friday on a package of campaign finance reforms aimed at reducing the influence of well-funded special interest groups.

The ordinance sent to the mayor would provide public matching funds at a faster rate to candidates who face opponents benefiting from large independent expenditures -- which are made outside the limits on campaign contributions -- in runoff elections.

However, the council turned down a city Ethics Commission recommendation to help the same candidates in primary elections and to lift spending and contribution caps for candidates whose opponents benefit from large independent campaigns.

That led Ethics Commission President Miriam Krinsky recently to complain that the proposals had been watered down.

The ordinance also would shed more light on independent expenditures by requiring unions and for-profit corporations that engage in that spending to form political action committees and to publicly release their lists of financial sources.

"If the mayor signs this, we will have better disclosure for the public and clearer rules for the city's political players," said LeeAnn Pelham, executive director of the Ethics Commission, on Friday. "While the package could have been stronger, we will work to make sure that it is complied with."

Mayor James K. Hahn threatened to veto the Ethics Commission's original plan but will sign the ordinance passed Friday because changes addressed his concerns on fairness and legality, said Deputy Mayor Matt Middlebrook.

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