Newman’s Bill to Ban Paid Signature Gatherers is Self-Serving

Senator Newman

State Senator Josh Newman has proposed a new senate bill that would abolish paid signature gatherers and impose fines and other penalties.  While SB 1394 intends to impose fines and “empower citizens to blow whistle on violators,” for a state senator would is the target of a recall where paid signature gatherers got petitions signed, this bill should be viewed as retaliatory.

There are a number of worthwhile ballot measures on a local or state level where citizens can make a decision at the ballot box.  Many have well-funded backers but not enough volunteers to get the required number of signatures.  Paying workers to gather signatures is a way to get important issues on the ballot.

And there’s no question some paid signature gatherers don’t have the best command of the details behind every ballot measure, and knowingly lying about a measure if clearly wrong.  But it’s always incumbent on the voter to read the measure before signing.

Newman’s bill — on its face — appears retaliatory against those paid signature gatherers who hustled for the recall.  And punishing all paid signature gatherers is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

It’s undemocratic and potentially unconstitutional.  His press release is below.


Pay-per-Signature Gathering would be Prohibited under

SB 1394 by Senator Josh Newman

Measure would impose fines and other penalties 

and empower citizens to blow the whistle on violators


Sacramento, CA – Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) today introduced SB 1394 to prohibit paying signature gatherers on per-signature basis in the state of California. The measure would prohibit the practice for state or local initiatives, as well as referendum and recall petitions.


“Petitioners who are paid per-signature have a powerful incentive to do whatever it takes to get voters to sign,” said Fullerton Democrat Josh Newman. “Too often this includes misrepresenting the purpose of the petition or straight out lying to get voters to sign. This is fraud, plain and simple, and it damages the integrity of the process. Voters have a right to know that what they are signing is actually what they will be voting for on the ballot.”


Under current state law, intentionally misleading a voter about the intent of a petition or failing to disclose that you are a paid petitioner is already a misdemeanor, but the penalties are rarely enforced.  SB 1394 would impose a fine of $25,000 or $50 per-signature gathered, whichever amount is greater, on the organizations that employ signature gatherers who are paid on a per-signature or ‘bounty’ basis. Signature gatherers themselves could be fined up to $1000 for participating in the practice, which has been shown to encourage and reward misleading voters.


SB 1394 would also allow an individual to bring a civil action for violations, if the Attorney General does not. This would empower voters who witness fraud firsthand to be whistleblowers and protect the transparency of elections at the local level.


SB 1394 would not prohibit payment for signature gathering, only the payment of per-signature bounties. Employers could still pay their petitioners hourly wages or on salary.


Eight states, including Oregon, Colorado, Nebraska and Arizona, have already adopted laws to ban paid signature gathering. Signature gatherer workers in these states instead earn an hourly wage.


Senator Josh Newman represents the 29th Senate District, which includes cities across Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino Counties.


  45 comments for “Newman’s Bill to Ban Paid Signature Gatherers is Self-Serving

  1. Jeff LeTourneau
    February 20, 2018 at 2:19 pm

    Dan, Once again you have missed the point! This much needed and long over due reform effort will eliminate the use of the nomadic band of professional signature gatherers who’s economic survival depends upon them getting as many signatures as possible, by any means necessary. This pay to play system is ripe for abuse as was seen with the Newman recall signature gathering as well as the recent deceptive Agran backed Irvine Initiative aimed at blocking the Veterans Cemetery while asking people to Save The Cemetery when they signed. Additionally, the provision for individual enforcement of the law is a powerful oversight tool. You would think that as you are a DPOC Central Committee Member you would spend your efforts supporting this Democratic backed reform instead of throwing Senator Newman under the bus as he fights this deceitful Republican backed recall effort!!! WTH

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 20, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      I haven’t missed the point at all; it is not illegal to pay someone to gather signatures. The Pope Irvine initiative was designed to save the cemetery at the original location. Opponents of that effort did a fair share of dishonesty. I note not all paid petition gatherers know every detail of what they seek signatures for but there is nothing wrong with the use of paid signature gatherers. I’ll remind you 19,000 primarily Irvine Democratic voters had to go through triage to sign that petition should speak loudly; and when FivePoint spends millions of dollars to protect their investment in the land swap, perhaps you’ll see you’re on the wrong side here. I would think that you as a DPOC Vice Chair would back Democratic measures of citizens putting together referendums when their city councils fail them or favor developers over residents better than you do. Small “d” for democracy Jeff. if someone other than Senator Newman pitched this particular tent, I’d feel the same way. It is the responsibility of the voter to review the petition they are signing. Whether or not the person holding the clipboard is paid or not is immaterial. I surely hope Senator Newman isn’t recalled, but this measure stinks of self interest and punishment.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 20, 2018 at 4:20 pm

      Jeff, I’ll point out there are a number of Democrats you don’t see eye to eye with either. Spare me your partisan outrage when I disagree with one of your favs.

    • Some Dude in Anahiem
      February 21, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      LeTourneau – is there text in Newman’s bill that excludes the California Democratic Party and all unions from paying their signature gatherers?

      Prop 47 went on the ballot because of your party’s paid signature gatherers lying to people claiming the proposition would create “safer” neighborhoods and only reduce criminal sentences on those convicted of marijuana laws.

  2. Jeff LeTourneau
    February 20, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    This bill does nothing to stop paid signature gatherers. It only bans pay by the signature gatherers. The entire super majority is at stake with the Newman recall and with it, all of the years of much needed legislation that has been blocked by a small and ever shrinking Republican party. As for Irvine, how hard could it have been to get a signature on a petition when the signs say Save The Veterans Cemetery. I guess they just forgot to put the last part about “original location.” What a shame that the will of the coalition of veterans and their supporters is being thwarted by a petty pissing match between 5 Points and Larry Agran. My how the mighty have fallen……

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 20, 2018 at 7:31 pm

      Incentivizing signature gatherers is the same thing as incentivizing sales pros. Not a thing wrong with it. If I were you, Mr. North County Vice Chair, I’d be cranking up voter registration and fundraising efforts to keep Josh Newman in his seat.

      You’re spending way too much time with the Foxes to make a comment like that. People who signed knew what they were signing. There were blockers handing out revision cards at every spot. You’re mistaken that all veterans are for the land swap. It’s also veteran Ed Pope’s referendum, not Larry’s. There’s so much you don’t know about Irvíne that your ignorance on this issue is laughable.

    • Fred
      February 21, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Jeff does this mean you will show up and throw a hissy fit and lose your shit and go all “pro homo” when you see sig gathering you don’t like? Or are you too busy dreaming about man/boy relations with alcoholic/wifebeater Victor Valladares. Asking for a friend.

      • 4th District Resident
        February 21, 2018 at 11:39 am

        The sewer is still backed up, I see.

    • Some Dude in Anahiem
      February 21, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      Your party currently doesn’t have a super majority because one of your most progressive elected officials, Tony Mendoza, was sexually harassing his staff.

      He was protected by his bro Kevin De Leon for as long the possible. Now, that’s what I call standing up for the women’s cause.

      How long did you turn a blind eye to the former OC Labor Federation Leader’s antics?

      It’s time you and others in your party stop blaming its woes on the ever shrinking Republican party and start making sure the party walks its talk.

      • OCDEM
        February 21, 2018 at 4:32 pm

        I would like Jeff to show the moral courage to answer the Victor Valladares rape/abuse allegations.

        I won’t hold my breath. Jeff has proven himself to be on the side of SEVERAL abusive men.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          February 21, 2018 at 5:07 pm

          Jeff never responded to a query about Julio Perez. Many “progressive Leaders’ did not; seeing photos of several of them marching in the women’s parade gave me pause

  3. Michael Fox
    February 20, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    [Here is the same comment with the typos fixed [I hope].

    This is Michael Fox. I am happy to spend time with Jeff LeTourneau. Although we usually agree, I have disagreed with him strongly on several issues. In these disagreements, Jeff has always argued policy and principle, and never — unlike Agran and Chmielewski — stooped to personal attacks and character assassination.

    I would also like to take this opportunity to respond to — and explain — the anonymous commentator with the name “Stage 4.” Three years ago, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and given only a short time to live. Through the grace of God, the miracles of modern medicine, and the loving care of my wife Melissa Fox and my family, I have survived well beyond the time that anyone expected. In fact, my most recent biopsy did not show the presence of any cancer. Nevertheless, I am still in twice-monthly chemotherapy treatment and cherish every day as a gift.

    As any decent person knows, cancer of any kind is no joke, nor is the anguish of my family — or of any family that is impacted by cancer or any other lethal disease. Still, the anonymous commentator “Stage 4” apparently thought it was funny (or perhaps just cruel) to attack and harm my wife — Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox — plus me and my family in this blog by referring to my medical condition.

    Moreover, the owner and editor of this blog — Dan Chmielewski — is fully aware of the nature and seriousness of my medical diagnosis and knows what the name “Stage 4” means in this context.

    Several times, he has knowingly allowed anonymous attacks on my wife make that direct reference to my cancer. I think that should tell people everything they need to know about what kind of person Dan Chmielewski is and what kind of people comment on this blog.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 21, 2018 at 8:43 am

      Michael — as I have explained before, I do not monitor the blog 24/7. A comment slipped past and was posted. I removed it upon your request. To my knowledge, there has been only one comment that referenced your disease and I believe it was up for less than 8 hours, because I do not monitor the blog 24/7. I apologize for that commenters comment. I do not take responsibility for what people comment here; I do believe in free speech and I do protect anonymity as we have discussed in the past even if I know who’s making a comment, I’ll protect their right to anonymity. You’ve encouraged me to ban certain people from this blog and I have not. This isn’t your Facebook page; this is an open forum.

      I’ll also disagree with you on a few things; you’re thrown your share of mud and so has Jeff. This blog isn’t copies of newspapers you don’t like that you can toss in the trash as you have. To complain about personal attacks while you have dirty hands is hypocritical. And your wife and stand up for herself. Let her.

      For what it’s worth, I’m happy you are cancer free. Even healthy people cherish every day as a gift. I certainly do. I’m glad we can agree on that.

      • Dan Chmielewski
        February 21, 2018 at 10:41 am

        and as far as what kind of person I am, I’m someone who maxed out to your wife’s city council campaigns in 2014 and 2016 and wrote her some decent checks for her 2010 assembly race. My character was just fine then….

    • Fox is a sellout
      February 21, 2018 at 11:04 am


      Your wife, Melissa Fox, is a complete sell out for the massive developer FivePoint. She is destroying our city by siding with a developer and their lobbyists and not the people.

      Now I guess you’re going to say that I’m slinging mud. If the mud fits, wear it.

  4. Florice Hoffman
    February 21, 2018 at 10:12 am

    Your position makes no sense. It’s is proven the people paid per signature engage in fraudulent activity to get petitions signed. It’s akways better to have employees be signature gatherers and it is the preferred method for supervising the signature gathers.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 21, 2018 at 10:39 am

      There is nothing wrong with incentivizing a signature gatherer to get as many signatures signed; they are paid based on valid signatures gathered, not for every signature. My position makes perfect sense. I don’t believe you or Jeff have ever worked in an environment where maximizing production meant a bigger paycheck. Sales professionals — and that’s really what paid signature gatherers are — love spiffs and making it illegal to pay based on performance of gathering valid signatures is wrong.

    • jumior
      February 23, 2018 at 12:31 pm

      Dem signature gatherers lie regularly – what goes around comes around …

  5. Michael Fox
    February 21, 2018 at 11:14 am

    Dan, you hold comments in moderation until you approve them. You approved and allowed someone to attack Melissa under the name “Stage 4.” You knew what it meant and you allowed it anyway.

    Neither I nor Melissa care about the what the cowardly anonymous commenters in this blog have to say. That isn’t the point.

    The point is that you knowingly allow people to make anonymous vile personal attacks, including using a spouse’s cancer diagnosis. That is what you do, and that is who you are.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 21, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      That’s only been true recently; our SPAM filter changed. That comment was approved under an earlier IP address. The spam filter expired and now I approve each comment. I allow all sorts of comments…what I do and who I am is someone who maxed out to your wife financially…and you do your share of hatful and awful commentary. Like I said Michael, I protect *everyone’s* anonymity. Don’t push me

      • Anton Marc
        February 21, 2018 at 5:38 pm

        Protect anonymity my ass.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          February 21, 2018 at 8:12 pm

          I do.

      • Michael Fox
        February 21, 2018 at 6:16 pm

        There is still at least one comment under the name “Stage 4.” Search your blog and you’ll find it. You approved it and you knew what it meant. If you made a mistake and it slipped your notice, you can fix it by deleting the comment and making it clear that attacking politicians by taunting them about their spouses’ medical condition is not condoned by you or allowed on your blog.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          February 21, 2018 at 8:10 pm

          I’ll look for it. Thank you.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          February 21, 2018 at 8:13 pm

          Too bad comments are restricted on the MelissaFoxBlog

          • Bernie
            February 22, 2018 at 7:09 am

            Fox doesn’t even allow comments on her blog. The Fox family is so thin skinned they never tolerate criticism. As Mr Fox has done here on this blog, they lash out at critics just calling them names.

            With their complete change in position on the Veterens Cemetery, they better get used to critics.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          February 22, 2018 at 10:46 am

          I found two; both have been deleted.

          And this is more of a courtesy than you offer to those who disagree with you or Melissa on her votes and positions on your social media feeds.

          I do not censor user names commenters offer; frankly, the only time they catch my eye is when someone sock puppets a name and uses an email and IP address I know doesn’t below to the person they claim to be. Take issue with my posts — comments, especially ones by those who won’t use their name, ought to be taken with a grain of salt.

          Again, I’m happy you are in remission.

    • Senior
      February 22, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Michael – So what do you and your wife think about the vile attacks on the volunteer citizens of Irvine? All she has done is spew rhetoric to protect her boyfriend/ sugar daddy and try to undermine democratic right by pushing a bogus resolution in central committee just to further her own agenda and protect her money tree. Personally, my whole neighborhood is running to find these green t-shirt people just to spite your wife and make a statement to her role in the DA bullsh**.

      • Michael Fox
        February 22, 2018 at 2:25 pm

        Dan, doing what’s minimally decent isn’t a courtesy to me. I pointed it out only because of what it says about you.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          February 22, 2018 at 7:00 pm

          Michael, when we talked as friends, you encouraged me often to ban conservatives who commented on my blog. I believe in free speech and discourse even if critical or divisive. You have blocked more people from social media feeds you control than I have on this blog. If I were to write this on criticism of you on your feeds, you’d delete and block me. Free speech is a hallmark of what we stand for as Democrats even if it’s speech we don’t like. Melissa is criticized her anonymously because no one wants the Fox family to threaten then with retaliation for not supporting Melissa. I’ll note your tantrums at the Truman dinner VIP tent, the Democrats of Greater Irvine meeting, and your over reaction to a joke made at your expense as evidence to your character and what it says about you. I’ll remind you I keep the confidence of those who post anonymously here even when I know their identities. You can complain all you want. But when this blog rises to the level of admitting to a felony in a public meeting or calling our party leadership liars and cheats, you can come after me.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          February 23, 2018 at 7:47 am

          I was reminded that you stalked and verbally harassed Phyllis Agran at the Truman dinner; what were you saying about character again?

  6. Michael Fox
    February 25, 2018 at 11:35 am

    Another lie and personal attack, but thank you for thinking of me first thing in the morning.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 25, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      Oh Michael, you did each thing in front of witnesses.

  7. Michael Fox
    February 25, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    The Agran/Krom/Chmielewski lie and character assassination machine lumbers on.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 25, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      Denial: not just a river in Egypt

      • Dan Chmielewski
        February 26, 2018 at 8:54 am

        sometimes, it’s too easy.

        • Michael Fox
          February 26, 2018 at 1:54 pm

          Your alliance (and that of Larry Agran/Beth Krom/Karen Jaffe) with the far right Jeff Lalloway is noted.

          • Dan Chmielewski
            February 26, 2018 at 2:07 pm

            Your allince with Christina Shea and Don Wagner at the farther and homophobic right is also noted. Video doesn’t lie

  8. Michael Fox
    February 26, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Jeff Lalloway thought that my defense of my wife from Larry Agran’s viscous personal and character attacks is funny. You thought that taunting my wife and me with the fact of my having cancer is funny. You’ve more than made clear why you, Lalloway, and Agran are on the same side.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 26, 2018 at 7:26 pm

      I never taunted you or your wife over your cancer. What do you call that? Fake news

  9. Alan
    February 26, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    Reading all of this is very interesting. Makes me realize that at this level of politics party means very little but integrity and honesty plays a huge roll. I donated to the Fox campaign thinking she was a progressive Democrat. Once elected I found out she was a politician who will look out for the best interest of the Developer and big business. I was mislead just like many others. I would like my money back. Control your emotions Mr. Fox. Something you should have learned how to do in your early 20’s.

  10. Michael Fox
    February 26, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    It’s your blog. In addition, you hold comments in moderation (i.e., you read them) before you decide whether to publish them.

    The controvertible fact is that you knowingly and repeatedly allowed anonymous comments taunting my wife and me based on my cancer diagnosis.

    Apparently, you thought it would hurt us and that it was okay to do so because Melissa had the courage to disagree with Larry Agran about the veterans cemetery and I have stood up for her.

    But, really, as I’ve said, neither I nor Melissa care about the what the anonymous cowards on this blog have to say.

    The point is that you knowingly allow anonymous personal attacks, including using a spouse’s cancer diagnosis, to hurt those with whom you politically disagree.

    That is what you do, and that is who you are.

    • Dan Chmielewski
      February 27, 2018 at 6:16 am

      I have explained before. Once a commenter posted a comment that was approved, subsequent comments by the same user name and IP address would publish immediately. A couple of months ago, the SPAM filter expired. Now all comments go to moderation. I actually publish just about every comment that isn’t SPAM. And given your record of personal attacks, some people simply want to tell you and her something without harassment from you later.

      • Dan Chmielewski
        February 27, 2018 at 8:06 am

        And yea, it took a lot of courage to deposit those Strader checks

  11. OCDEM
    February 26, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Mr. Fox.

    I’ll say what NO ONE ELSE WILL:
    Why is a elected councilwoman’s HUSBAND speaking on her behalf. Why can’t Mellissa speak for herself?

    You are NOT elected. It’s nice that you play second fiddle to Mellissa, but the REALITY is she is the one on the hook. NOT YOU.

    It’s curious, your involvement. Is Mellissa puppet for the unelectable slug?

    For sure she can do things for $10K that you NEVER could.

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