Last week, the Orange County Board of Supervisors effort to establish limited campaign finance oversight had its proverbial head cut off. The Board of Supervisors has placed on the November ballot a measure that if approved by voters, would allow the county to contract with the FPPC for limited enforcement of the county’s campaign finance regulations known as “Tin Cup”. In order for their scheme to work, the state legislature needed to pass enabling legislation allowing the FPPC to take on the task.
The board convinced State Senator Lou Correa to carry the bill, which sailed through the State Senate with unanimous support in May. At the August 12th meeting of the Board of Supervisors county legislative staff reported confidence that the legislation would sail through the Assembly as well.
Spoke too soon.
On August 13th the best laid plans of the Board, mice afraid of real ethics and finance oversight, fell apart. The Orange County Register’s Terri Sforza put it this way in her story on Monday:
While critics called for a local, independent ethics watchdog, Orange County supervisors devised a plan to have the distant FPPC do the dirty work. This plan was a two-headed dragon: The local ballot measure will ask voters to hand power to the FPPC, while a bill in the state Legislature would enable the FPPC to accept that power.
Last week, however, state lawmakers gutted the bill after a rather spectacular bit of politicking, leaving this dragon not completely dead, but with just one head.
Sforza spoke with Tin Cup author Shirley Grindle about the demise of the legislation:
“The whole ballot measure is now moot – the county can’t contract with the FPPC even if voters approve it,” said longtime activist Shirley Grindle, who wrote the county’s current campaign law. “I am laughing at the Board of Supervisors. Serves them right. All of this is just to avoid setting up an independent ethics commission, as I have urged them to do, and as three grand juries have urged them to do.”
The ballot measure will remain on the November ballot, even though it cannot be implemented without legislative approval because according to state law, it is too late to remove it from the ballot.
Teri Sforza’s story provides much more detail of this development so if you want to know more, check it out. In the mean time, over here at Liberal OC, we won’t hold our collective breath waiting for the Board of Supervisors to actually follow the recommendations of the Grand Jury to establish and fund a truly independent ethics commission.