The Los Angeles City Council gave preliminary approval of new campaign rules that raise contribution limits to $700 in City Council races and $1,300 in citywide races. The new rules also raise the level of matching funds that candidates can get next year, and said that starting in 2015 the public money will only match funds raised from donors within the city of Los Angeles.
Under the proposal, the city would give qualified candidates $2 for every $1 raised for primary elections and $4 for every $1 raised for general elections. The change was approved on an 11-0 vote, but it must return for a second vote next week.
Ethics Commission Director Heather Holt cautioned the plan could drain the $12 million trust fund the commission has to provide matching funds. If that happens, the amount of money available will be reduced so it can be evenly divided among candidates.
The council delayed action on a series of other proposals, including one that would offer differing amounts of matching funds based on the number of signatures a candidate collects to get on the ballot. The city requires candidates to collect 500 signatures if they pay a filing fee or they can gather 1,000 signatures and pay no filing fee.
"The problem with that is you could have a wealthy candidate pay for signature gatherers," said Councilman Paul Koretz. "Or you could have someone spend all of their time collecting signatures. In either case, I'm not sure it shows grassroots support."