Why would experienced politicians repeal an ordinance that enhances their reelection prospects? Such a rare and beneficent act should be lauded if done for the right reasons; for it's contradictory to the nature of every office holder to have a hand in his own defeat, no matter how noble the cause they purport to uphold. But seeing as how contradictions can't exist in nature, let's peek behind the political curtain to see if we can't spot ulterior motives that would wake us from our dream of a selfless politician.
Supervisors Bennett, Long, and Parks would have us believe that a section of the ordinance in question--an ordinance they authored to establish contribution limits on independent groups, such as political action committees--has been rendered unconstitutional by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, and on Tuesday they'll propose to delete that provision from the county books.
The county ordinance caps contributions to independent expenditure committees to $700 per contributor, in an effort to limit the effect of special interest money on local elections. Campaign finance reform laws are popular, and Supervisor Bennett crusaded for this ordinance a decade ago when he leapt from city council to county supervisor.
It should be pointed out that the contribution limit benefits incumbents. Since there is no limit on the free publicity and name ID associated with public office, an incumbent doesn't mind expenditure and contribution limits if his opponent, who is usually relatively unknown, is also saddled with them. For the challenger has a high--and expensive--hurdle to clear to raise his name ID and the incumbent does not.
This is why it's so strange for three incumbent supervisors
to move to repeal the limit. [continue reading]