At Tuesday’s meeting the Orange County Board of Supervisors considered how they would address the growing concern over possible campaign finance misbehavior and conflicts of interest in their ranks. Their response to calls for an ethics commission by the Orange County Grand Jury is, unsurprisingly, nothing more than the campaign finance reform equivalent of a bait-and-switch. The losers in this plan will be the supporters of Orange County’s Campaign Finance Reform laws, known as Tin-Cup. The winners will be Supervisors who will see individual contribution limits to their campaigns increase by more than double the current $1,900 amount.
Voice of Orange County reports:
“…a motion by supervisors began a process that could end with voters approving a transfer of local enforcement power to the FPPC from the district attorney’s Office, which currently polices campaign finance for countywide offices under the county’s Time Is Now, Clean Up Politics or TINCUP ordinance.
Throughout the discussion of the issue on the dais, however, there was a strong sense from supervisors that if this transfer took place, the county’s per-election cycle contribution limits could shift to the state’s standard, thereby more than doubling from $1,900 to $4,100.
Rather than address their actual corruption and pay-to-play antics by heeding the recommendations put forth by the Grand Jury, the board proposes to shift responsibility for monitoring their compliance with campaign finance regulations to the state Fair Political Practices Commission, with the narrow focus of monitoring campaign contributions. To add to their payoff for the scheme, they would get to increase the amount of money they can rake in from individual donors.
The problem of pay-to play politics isn’t going to be addressed by monitoring whether or not contribution limits are adhered to. The side-dealing by the board is beyond the scope of the FPPC investigative and enforcement capabilities. What is really needed is an independent ethics commission, with subpoena power, backed up by a political integrity unit of the District Attorney’s office that removes the District Attorney from influencing investigations and prosecutions.
Recently it has been revealed that The Board of Supervisors took more than $180,000 in campaign contributions from a corporation, its lobbyists and affiliated groups and then awarded the company over $140 million in contracts. See the campaign contributions for yourself. Read about the contract: Xerox IT Contract Approved Despite $11-Million Price Hike and the extension.
The Board of Supervisors is attempting to lure the public into thinking they are addressing corruption with this plan. If we take the bait we’ll find that they’ve hooked us into a false sense of security, while they laugh all the way to the bank.