BLOOM, O’DAY AND O’CONNOR OPPOSE DISCLOSURE
Mayor Richard Bloom and Council members Terry O’Day and Pam O’Connor
just don’t like disclosure.
Two weeks ago, Council member Kevin McKeown proposed that Council members report campaign contributions from people or companies seeking Council approval of their projects before they voted on the projects. Bloom, O’Day, O’Connor and Council member Gleam Davis voted against the measure for perfectly ludicrous reasons, but chose not to say that in fact they had all accepted contributions from developers and/or their lawyers. Only Council member Bobby Shriver voted with McKeown. The measure failed.
At last night’s Council meeting, McKeown proposed that the City Clerk’s office provide printed lists of Council members’ campaign contributions to members of the public on nights when the contributors had business with the Council.
Many members of the public spoke in favor of the measure, including the boards of two neighborhood organizations.
Speaking for the Friends of Sunset Park, Zina Josephs said, “The FOSP Board supports this proposal.
“Although campaign donations are on file at the City Clerk’s office and online at http://www01.smgov.net/cityclerk/disclosures/NetFile.htm, it’s not easy for individual residents to compile all the records.
“Since this is public information, there seems to be no reason to not make it more easily available to the public.
“It would also go a long way in maintaining the public’s trust in the integrity of decisions made by the City Council, essentially saying to the public, ‘We have nothing to hide — here, see for yourself.’”
Valerie Griffin said, “Members of the Board of the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition recognize that campaign donations are part of every election. We also recognize that some residents view particular contributions as a reason to support a candidate while others view the same contributions as a reason to oppose the candidate. Indeed, Santa Monicans take a great deal of pride in our lively exchange of ideas.
“Many of us have actually looked at existing filings. Some candidates file electronically, making it easy to view information on everyone who contributed directly to the campaign. Others file on paper which cannot be searched or downloaded, and may even be handwritten. To further complicate access to information about a candidate, there may be additional filings to track independent expenditures made by other organizations to support or to oppose a candidate. All of these filings we have seen are paper filings which cannot be automatically aggregated with electronic filings. There are also slate mailer organizations for which the State does not appear to require candidate-linked filings. This tangle of filings can make it very difficult to determine who received contributions from donors associated with various interests.
“We believe that donation information should be readily available on-line in a way that can easily be accessed. It should be available to people at Council meetings. Because there are people who cannot access electronic information, it should also be made available on paper at all Council meetings.
“We believe that this disclosure should include not only direct contributions to campaigns, but also independent expenditures and contributions made to a slate mailer on behalf of a candidate.”
Jerry (“win win”) Rubin was the only member of the public to speak against the printed campaign contributions. He seemed to think it was mean.
City Clerk Maria Stewart assured Council members that preparing the printed record would create no problems for her office.
But Bloom thought it might be a needless expense, and O’Day and O’Connor had equally inane reasons for opposing it. Davis and McKeown voted for it. Members Bobby Shriver and Bob Holbrook were absent. Disclosure, transparency and democracy lost 3-2.