The Commonwealth Blog

Campaign Finance - The Current Hot Topic

Oct 8, 2010 @ 3:10 PM

Campaign finance is a hot topic right now! Not to mention a very relevant one as we head towards November.

The New York Times published an article yesterday stating that the amount of money spent on television campaign advertisements by outside interest groups has more than doubled from what was spent in 2006. The article points not only to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling as a main reason for the more lax campaign finance regulations, but also to an array of other legal developments that have led to less regulation and less restriction regarding campaign financing.

NPR’s Fresh Air devoted Thursday’s show to the discussion of the new world of campaign finance that has been created as a result of the Citizens United decision. Terry Gross interviewed Peter Stone, of The Center for Public Integrity, Kenneth Vogel of Politico and Lee Fang of the liberal-leaning ThinkProgress to discuss new organizations that have been created since the ruling in order to finance advertisements for campaigns across the country.

The Oakland mayoral race recently had its own campaign finance drama. Oakland mayoral candidates Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan were denied their request to tighten rules on campaign finance spending before the Nov. 2 election. The two Oakland City Council members made this request to the Oakland City Council after the Sacramento-based Coalition for a Safer California announced it had exceeded the spending threshold of $95,000 allowed for an independent expenditure committee, in support of an Oakland mayoral candidate. Quan and Kaplan have alleged that Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata worked with the coalition to get the spending cap broken. Perata has denied this allegation, but admitted on Thursday to exceeding the spending ceiling. Perata says that City Attorney John Russo told him that the spending cap had already been broken. Russo denies having said this. Once the spending cap is broken, mayoral candidates are free to spend more than the voluntary spending limit of $379,000. Read the complete story from the Oakland Tribune.

Join The Club and panelists Bob Edgar, Lawrence McQuillan and Jesse Choper to discuss this polemic topic, delving into the political controversies and the widely unpopular Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. This program will take place on Monday, October 11 at 6PM at The Club’s SF office.