Thursday, September 16, 2004

Welcome news for some:

ETHICS COMMISSION ANNOUNCES FULL FUNDING OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE PROGRAM

The San Francisco Ethics Commission today announced that it will no longer pro-rate funding under the Election Campaign Fund and that participating candidates will be able to qualify for the maximum $43,750.00 allowed under the law. Due to a funding shortfall, the Ethics Commission previously had limited each candidate who qualified for public financing to $28,500 in matching funds.

The Commission has been working with the Mayor and Board of Supervisors to identify funding sources for the program. Initial funding was $670,000, about enough to provide maximum grants to 15 candidates who qualified for the full amount. Although the Commission was planning to seek a direct supplemental appropriation, that process could have taken until the end of October. Instead, funds for this election cycle will be used out of other accounts from the Ethics Commission’s operating budget and then replaced later in the fiscal year with a supplemental appropriation. This method allows candidates to seek additional matching funds immediately.

Ethics Commission Chairperson Michael L. Garcia praised Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Chris Daly for their efforts to secure funding for the program, which was created by a voter initiative known as “Proposition O” in 2000. He stated, “Mayor Newsom has really come through for this program. Due to the short time left before the election, swift action was needed and the Mayor and his staff responded to our request for assistance with speed and efficiency.” Garcia also pointed out that Supervisor Daly introduced a separate supplemental request to fully fund the campaign finance program. “I commend Supervisor Daly’s leadership on this issue,” Garcia added. “The public financing program is important to the citizens of San Francisco, and Supervisor Daly took the initiative to solve this glaring problem.” Daly is Chair of the Board of Supervisors Finance Committee.

“This funding solution also fixes another vexing problem,” Garcia added. “A supplemental appropriation at this time, however necessary, would have forced some members of the Board of Supervisors to face voting for campaign funds for themselves and/or their opponents. Such an awkward situation is symptomatic of some issues with Proposition O that need to be addressed in the future.”

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