California Campaign Finance Reform

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Mother Jones already gave you twelve good reasons for campaign finance reform. Here’s just a few more:

  • Senate and House campaigns raised $447.7 million between 1/1/95 and 6/30/96, a 15% increase over the same period in the 1993-94 election cycle. (FEC 8/6/96)

  • Political action committees contributed $78 million to congressional candidates during the first 15 months of the 1995-96 cycle, a 12% increase. (FEC 6/7/96)

  • Corporate PACs contributed $30.7 million to 1996 congressional candidates — more than any other type of PAC. (FEC 6/7/96)

This year, two rival initiatives are fighting to get big money out of California politics. Both measures agree on banning contributions from lobbyists, the transfer of funds between candidates, and the accumulation of surplus campaign funds or “war chests.” But beyond such similarities, they present a tough choice for the reform-minded voter:

The California Political Reform Initiative The Anti-Corruption Act of 1996
Proposition # Proposition 208 Proposition 212
Sponsor Californians for Political Reform Californians Against Political Corruption
Basic Points Individuals, PACs, corporations, and unions limited to $25,000 total yearly contributions.

Contributions to a single candidate limited to $250 for most races, $500 for statewide offices (double for candidates who agree to spending limits).

Voluntary spending limits.

Individuals limited to $2,000 total yearly contributions. Other entities limited to $10,000.

Limits contributions from individuals, PACs, and parties to $100 for most races, $200 for statewide offices.

75% of a candidate’s money must come from within their district.

Mandatory spending limits.

Opposition Viewpoint Prop 208 is less than the major overhaul demanded and needed by Californians. Proposition 212’s $100 contribution limits, mandatory spending limits, and in-district contribution limits will be ruled unconstitutional, effecting no reform at all.

The Web sites for both Prop. 208 and Prop 212 have the full text (Prop. 208 | Prop 212) of their proposition and a host of links to relevant articles and non-profit groups, giving you the opportunity to decide for yourself which one you support.

Each also offer information on how you can volunteer (Prop. 208 | Prop 212), and who the local contactscolor> (Prop. 208 | Prop 212) are in your area.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend