Proposition 25 In CA Would Cap Campaign Contributions

By Chris Sieroty | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

Los Angeles ( - For the fifth time in 12 years, California voters on March 7th will determine whether to overhaul political campaign finance laws that have left the nation's largest state behind other states in efforts to curb contributions.

California is one of only a few states with no campaign contribution caps. Other states observe limits ranging from $100 to $25,000. In 1998, a battle over Indian gambling in California reached $88.6 million, a national record.

Tony Miller, a former acting secretary of state and co-author of the ballot measure, described his initiative as moving California to a position other states have decided to occupy.

However, critics of the measure have called it too little reform or simply bad reform.

"We fear promoting a measure that would leave the most serious abuses untouched would only lead to greater public cynicism," the League of Women Voters said in a statement.

Californians approved two reform measures in 1988 and another in 1996, but all three were stuck down in court. Voters rejected yet another finance reform measure in 1996.

Under the new measure, individual donations to national political campaigns would be limited to $3,000. For statewide candidates, the contribution limit would be $5,000. Over the years, the caps would be adjusted for inflation.

The new proposition also would ban corporate donations, establish voluntary campaign spending limits for state candidates and ballot initiative campaigns, and provide public funding for broadcast advertising and some mailings to campaigns that agree to voluntary spending limits.