Krekorian Motion Aims to Increase Transparency
LOS ANGELES – Councilmember Paul Krekorian continued his fight this week against stealthy third-party political donations known as independent expenditures. After years of fighting against them in the state, Krekorian introduced a motion in the City Council Tuesday that aims to increase the transparency of spending by independent expenditure groups which have grown exponentially this decade.
“Elections should not be bought and paid for by special interests,” Councilmember Krekorian said. “This motion will help ensure a high level of transparency and accountability throughout Los Angeles without ceding the basic democratic values we all hold dear.”
Krekorian’s motion outlines three basic strategies to curb the pernicious effect of independent expenditures, a political activity intended to assist or oppose a specific candidate for office that is made without their cooperation, approval or direct knowledge. If approved, Krekorian’s motion would:
1) Triple the penalties associated with violations of the disclosures required by the city’s municipal code;
2) Require broadcasts or mass mailings by a committee making independent expenditures to include a disclosure statement. That statement would have to include the name of the committee, the names of the persons making the two highest cumulative contributions of $5,000 or more in a 12-month period, and, a statement that clearly identifies the economic or other special interest of the donors who contribute $5,000 or more;
3) Require a committee making independent expenditures to disclose the name and telephone number of its committee.
As a state Assemblyman, Krekorian authored two pieces of sunshine legislation that sought to peel back the layers of shadowy independent expenditure spending. While his legislation was thwarted twice by special interest groups in the state Legislature, Krekorian vowed not to ease his fight to increase transparency.
During his recent campaign for the City Council, though Krekorian took home 56% of the vote, he was outspent more than 2-1 in overall campaign dollars and more than 13-1 in independent expenditure donations.
Some of the tumult surrounding the expenditures during the campaign centered on a group called Working Californians, a group supporting Krekorian’s main opponent.
Working Californians sued the city of Los Angeles to overturn a 24-year-old city ethics law that had barred independent expenditure groups from collecting more than $500 from individual donors. The group said L.A.’s law was preventing it from contributing en masse to his opponent in her bid for the council.
Two weeks after the suit was filed, a federal court judge denied Working Californians’ request for a temporary restraining order. In response, Krekorian said: “By filing this lawsuit, the downtown power brokers proved that they aren’t satisfied just trying to steal this election for her- they want to hide their tracks too.”
“I was very proud to defend the ethics laws that the voters of Los Angeles enacted and have relied upon for nearly a quarter century.”
The City Attorney now has 30 days to report back to the council on a new ordinance reflecting Krekorian’s motion, which you can see below: