"Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air". -- John Quincy Adams
The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that started its efforts in March, 2002 when it became increasingly clear that politics in California is dominated by Big Money special interests, not voters. It gets worse every year.
Our long-term mission is to educate Californians about the need to clean up its broken campaign finance system by bringing real campaign disclosure and full Clean Money, Fair Elections public financing of campaigns to California so that everybody has a voice and so that politicians are accountable to voters, not special interests.
Clean Money would have to be passed by the voters in an initiative either put on the ballot by the legislature or by the people through signature gathering.
Major Clean Money Victories
Despite the opposition of lobbyists and other Big Money special interests, the California Clean Money Campaign and its sister 501(c)4 organinzation the California Clean Money Action Fund have helped win major victories towards the goal of Fair Elections while working with its members and coalition partners:
Governor Brown Signs SB 844 to create online transparency of ballot measure funders
Here's what one of Senator Pavley's staffers said about it on Facebook:
"Don't EVER think grassroots activism does not pay off! Thanks to a massive effort by the California Clean Money Campaign... Senator Pavley's SB 844 was signed today. Now voters will have clear information about who is spending big bucks for and against ballot measures! Woohoo! A win for the people and not the special interests!"More than 11,000 signed California Clean Money Campaign petitions urging Governor Brown to sign SB 844.
As with almost all campaign finance victories, passing SB 844 was a major coalition effort. The California Voter Foundation took the lead in working with Senator Pavley's office to craft the legislation, along with Maplight and other advocates. Thanks also go to other the organizations that joined the California Clean Money Campaign in supporting SB 844: California Common Cause, California Church IMPACT, California Forward Action Fund, Label GMOs: California's Grassroots, League of Women Voters of California, Lutheran Office of Public Policy - California, Progressives United, and SEIU California.
California makes official call for a U.S. Constitutional Convention to overturn Citizens United
"If our democratic system of representative government is to survive, the Supreme Court's deeply damaging campaign finance rulings must be overturned", said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. "By passing AJR 1, California shows Congress that if they don't act to put forward an amendment to say that money isn't speech, they won't be able to prevent the states from taking the matter into their own hands."
That's what AJR 1, authored by Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), does. AJR 1 makes California the second state to officially call for a constitutional convention under Article V of the Constitution "for the sole purpose of proposing an amendment to the United States Constitution that would limit corporate personhood for purposes of campaign finance and political speech and would further declare that money does not constitute speech and may be legislatively limited."
Governor Brown Signs SB 27, historic bill against Dark Money
As California Clean Money Campaign President Trent Lange was quoted in the Sacramento Bee: "Governor Brown's signature of SB 27 marks a turning point in the fight to reveal secret funders of political campaigns. It starts to shed light on dark money in California and serves as an example for the entire nation."
This win came after 40,000 people signed the petition for SB 27 and more than 1,000 called. It was a tremendous coalition effort to pass SB 27 despite its requiring a difficult 2/3 vote of both the Assembly and Senate to pass. It had support from not only good government groups in California like the California Clean Money Campaign, California Common Cause, California Forward, California Voter Foundation, and the League of Women Voters of California, but also national organizations like Courage Campaign, CREDO, Maplight, the Money Out Voters In Coalition, Progressives United, Public Citizen, Represent.Us, and the Sunlight Foundation.
Los Angeles City Council Votes to Strengthen City's Public Financing of Campaigns in September 2012
The new legislation increase the matching funds currently provided to qualified candidates from a one-to-one match on individual contributions up to $250 in the case of City Council races to a two-to-one match in primaries and a four-to-one match in general elections. This means that a $140 contribution from an individual would be as valuable as a maxed-out $700 contribution from a corporation or union in a general election.
"We need to make major changes in the way we finance election campaigns", said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign. "The new rules will enhance the voice of regular voters and make candidates engage more with the people they represent."
Voters Resoundingly Say Yes to Clean Money in Los Angeles in March 2011!
Measure H, authored by LA City Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilmember José Huizar, banned bidders on large city contracts from making campaign contributions or fundraising for city officials who decide who wins. But the most important part of Measure H lifted the maximum balance in the City's public financing campaign trust fund. This will eventually allow L.A. to move to full, Clean Money, Fair Elections public funding of campaigns, so that candidates don't take big money from any special interest donors and are accountable only to the voters.
Los Angeles residents sent a message to leaders across the state and across the country: It's time to end corporate and big money special interest control of our political system. And Clean Money members and volunteers helped send that message!
Prop 15 Loses in 2010 But Builds Support and Sets the Stage
Prop 15's loss showed that we need to address deceptive political advertising: Over 20 million deceptive paid slate mailers were sent out with "No on 15" messages, fooling people into believing that they represented real endorsements when they're actually sold to the highest bidder.
Despite that, a majority of voters voted for Prop 15 in eight Bay Area counties and in the city of Los Angeles — areas CCMC had particularly strong grassroots working groups to get the message out about the need for Fair Elections. AB 583 and Prop 15 showed the power of grassroots Clean Money activists and members — that's why we said we'd be back!
Historic Fair Elections Victory in the Legislature in 2008
AB 583 passed after a strong coalition campaign including the efforts of California Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of California, the California Nurses Association, and many others. The legislature passed it after over 30,000 people signed the petition and after thousands of calls, letters, and faxes generated by the efforts of CCMC activists and members.
Bob Stern, President of the Center for Governmental Studies, termed it "the biggest political upset of the year in California".
Up Now: The California DISCLOSE ACT!
The California Clean Money Campaign and its grassroots supporters throughout the state are now working on a potential game-changer for political campaigns — the California DISCLOSE Act.
The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision unleashed unlimited, anonymous corporate spending on campaigns. In California, over $475 million was spent in 2012 ballot measures alone, most by corporations hiding behind misleading committees names. This hidden spending is subverting our democracy.
The key feature of the California DISCLOSE Act is that it will require the top three funders of television, radio, and print ads to be clearly and prominently listed — on the ads themselves.
Not only that, but the California DISCLOSE Act will require disclosure that "follows the money" so that special interests can't hide their contributions — the funders it reveals will be the original corporations, unions, or wealthy individuals that gave the money in the first place.