A crackdown on misuse of taxpayer money?

As documented on this space on a quantity of occasions, native authorities officers all by means of California have been thumbing their noses at a state laws that prohibits them from using taxpayer funds for political campaigns.

Officials in cities, counties, college districts and explicit operate districts routinely hire advertising and marketing marketing campaign administration firms, often with multi-million-dollar costs, to deal with every stage of their ballot measures looking for voter approval of new taxes or new bond factors (which require new taxes to service).

The consulting firms conduct polling of native voters after which draft the ballot measures to adapt to what these polls level out voters would uncover acceptable. The political execs then design campaigns for the measures, beneath the guise of “education,” to affect voters to approve them.

Typically, the “education” campaigns are misleading, promising that the proceeds of the taxes and bonds can be utilized for in model facilities and suppliers, equal to police and hearth security or parks, whereas ignoring the underlying precise causes, equal to to cowl rapidly rising employee pension and properly being care costs.

The consultants often boast of their extreme passage costs, and with good goal, consequently of most of the rigorously crafted and marketed measures do, really, win voter approval.

The observe is, as talked about earlier, illegal. A explicit state laws prohibits it. But it continues unabated consequently of native prosecutors, who usually share throughout the proceeds of the measures, have persistently refused to pursue cases in direction of their fellow politicians.

Lately and belatedly, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has dived into the an increasing number of blatant misuse of taxpayer , nevertheless it lacks the ability to prosecute the miscreant officers. Rather, it has in some cases taken the indirect movement of attempting to compel the offending governments to file advertising and marketing marketing campaign donor research.

Filing such research may be tantamount to admitting that the laws had been broken, so of course, native officers have dragged their ft on complying.

Local prosecutors seem to be adamant in turning a blind eye to this obvious law-breaking, so the FPPC is now asking the Legislature to supply it the ability to prosecute cases.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, has launched Assembly Bill 1306, which could give the FPPC the ability to ship civil and administrative actions in direction of those who misuse public funds.

“The rules should apply to everyone,” talked about Garcia, who’s been an outspoken advocate of political reform. “I’m all for giving the FPPC more teeth to bite down on those who misuse taxpayer resources.  It’s quite convenient that the campaign laws enforceable by the FPPC didn’t include public officials or public entities within our own government entities. The FPPC noticed this gap in their enforcement ability and this bill now sends a clear message that California won’t tolerate public agencies, or elected officials, spending taxpayer dollars on campaign activities.”

“This bill simply holds those in power to the same standard we hold those who are not,” Garcia added.  “Government shouldn’t get a pass just because it makes the rules. Fair is fair and we must hold individuals, and entities, accountable by empowering our oversight entities to dole out more than a fix-it ticket fine. No one is above the law, including our government.”

What happens to Garcia’s bill as a result of it winds its method by means of the Capitol may be very instructive. Logically, legislators have to be ready to put some tooth into the laws they enacted, nevertheless logic doesn’t always prevail in politics.

If lawmakers proceed to let their counterparts in native authorities off the hook, they should be ashamed of themselves.

CALmatters is a public curiosity journalism enterprise devoted to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it points. For further tales by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary

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