Latino leaders promote a measure that would limit private donations to candidates

By Agencia EFE staff

(Translated from the original Spanish)

Los Angeles, Aug. 14th (EFE). - Officers and Latino leaders met today in Los Angeles to expose to the Hispanic Community of Southern California a proposal that would limit large private donation to politicians.

Assembly member Hector De La Torre (D-South Gate), Carmen Avalos, city of South Gate Clerk, Antonio Gonzalez, President of Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, and Trent Lange, Campaign Director, explained the benefits of the California Fair Elections Act or CFEA.

The CFEA proposal - which will be subject to voters' approval in June 2010-, establishes the creation of a pilot project in 2014 and 2018 to offer voluntary public funding to candidates who qualify and comply with stringent expenditure regulations.

If approved, the measure would benefit Latino candidates who often are limited in their aspirations for not having enough economic support, noted De La Torre.

The proposal - which counts with the support of around 300 local, state and national organizations - would allow politicians to detach from fundraising events, offering greater transparency to the processes.

Among Hispanics that are emerging as a new political force in the country this measure would allow them to save the first and main obstacle in their political career, Gonzalez mentioned.

To qualify as a contestant [for Secretary of State] the aspiring candidate must obtain 7,500 signatures of registered voters and an equal number of contributions of five dollars each. Independent candidates or from a third party should have twice the number of contributions (15,000) to qualify [for full funding].

The CFEA would give $1 million to each qualified candidate to develop a campaign in primary elections. The winner of the primaries would receive $1.3 million dollars for final elections. Candidates may not receive any other money from that offered by the CFEA Fund.

Funds to finance these campaigns will be primarily obtained from lobbying firms and lobbyists' registration fees, without using taxpayers' money.

The CFEA was written by Assembly member Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) and has six senators and 18 assembly members as co-authors, and counts with the support of the "Clean Money" campaign which has already achieved that voters approve similar measures in other States of the country.

Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, was the first elected State officer of the country chosen only with public funds when she became Arizona's governor in 2002.

"Our current system of political campaign financing excludes a lot of people, Latinos among them, from fully participating in the political process for not having ample financial resources," explained Antonio Hernandez, Executive Director of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, where the forum took place.

"This reform campaign will help change this and will amplify democracy for all," he said.

See the article on Agencia EFE website

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