Friday, March 19, 2010

De La Fuente Offers New Campaign Finance Plan

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 10:58 AM

In a move that could help his close friend and ally Don Perata, Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente is proposing to raise individual donation limits to $1,000 and increase total political expenditures by 40 percent in city elections. According to the Trib, De La Fuente unveiled his proposal yesterday at a council committee meeting. De La Fuente is selling his plan as a “compromise,” because an earlier proposal by City Attorney John Russo to raise donation limits to $1,400 and double the amount an Oakland politician can spend to get elected appears to be dead in the water.

Perata’s mayoral campaign needs the caps on donation and expenditures to be raised because he had already burned through more than $100,000 by the end of 2009 on expensive consultants. His main rival for mayor, Councilwoman Jean Quan, opposes raising the limits. She’s running a grassroots campaign and had only spent about $7,000 by the end of last year. The city’s Public Ethics Commission also rejected Russo’s proposal.

For De La Fuente’s plan to pass the council, he will need to garner five votes on the eight-member panel. One key vote could turn out to be Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, who is seriously thinking about jumping in the mayor’s race. Kaplan has expressed interest in a compromise on the issue, but it’s unclear whether she will back De La Fuente’s proposal.

However, the two have joined up on a plan to divert $225,000 from the city’s public campaign finance fund to pay for additional educational outreach this year for ranked choice voting. Quan also opposes that proposal because it would eliminate any public-matching funds for candidates this year.

She has instead backed a compromise proposal that would take $100,000 from the public-campaign finance fund for voter outreach. The council deadlocked on that plan in a 4-4 vote earlier this week. However, Mayor Ron Dellums is leaning towards breaking the tie next month and voting for the compromise that Quan supports.

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