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Tighter O.C. campaign finance laws urged

Grand jury calls for measures to revise a 1978 regulation, create an oversight panel.

May 22, 2008|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

Orange County's grand jury recommended Wednesday that the Board of Supervisors put two tough campaign ordinances on the November ballot, just months after the board rejected such a request by campaign activists.

The panel wants to tighten the county's 1978 law known as TINCUP, or Time Is Now, Clean Up Politics. The second measure creates a county campaign practices commission to oversee compliance with the law, the grand jury said.

"The TINCUP ordinance has withstood the test of time and in today's political climate, levels the playing field" for candidates running for county offices "while keeping major political donors in check," the grand jury's report said.

But the grand jury toughened the measure, eliminating cost-of-living increases for donations. Instead, donations would be capped at $1,600 from each donor for county races per election cycle, said activist Shirley L. Grindle, who wrote the ordinance.

"These elected officials are always looking for easy ways to raise money," Grindle said. She added that she erred by including the increases when she wrote the ordinance.

With the limit tied to the cost of living, a campaign donation could easily reach more than $2,000 in a few years, Grindle said. "With the average contribution under $700, why do they need a higher limit?"

The measure and an oversight commission are needed to ensure transparency and fair play in government, the grand jury said.

The Board of Supervisors has 90 days to respond to the report.

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david.reyes@latimes.com

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