California’s legislators seem to think that Californians have infinitely deep pockets and an infinite amount of generosity. When individuals give them gentle reminders that they govern people, not cash cows, they most often throw a hissy fit and, all too often, win.
However, someone has managed to bring these dreamers back down to earth. Taxpayers have recently won a long-winded lawsuit regarding public funding for political campaigns.
Public funding was first prohibited from going to political campaigns in 1988 by Proposition 73, which amended the Political Reform Act of 1974 to explicitly prohibit such funding. Senate Bill 1107, introduced in 2016, sought to allow public funding of political campaigns under the vague conditions of “certain circumstances.” The lawsuit’s grounds were that initiative statuses cannot be amended by the state legislature except by a vote of the people or initiative-defined circumstances. Ultimately, the Third District Court of Appeal decided, correctly, that SB 1107 violates the 1974 bill.
Publicly funded campaigns are problematic for several reasons. Taxpayers trust the state to put their money towards public needs that will directly affect their livelihood, such as public education for children, transportation, and safety. They do not trust the state to put their money into the campaigns of individuals they do not support.
How many California Democrats would be horrified by their tax money going to President Trump’s reelection campaign?
Though Gov. Newsom argues that public funding of campaigns helps decrease the impact of large donors and reduces campaign spending, he neglects to realize that people of all political beliefs pay taxes in the state of California—conservatives and progressives alike. He’s ignoring the diverse ideological perspectives that the “most progressive state in the US” has to offer, and by doing so, stripping his citizens of their rights to their own money.
Those interested in contributing to political campaigns can and should do so at their own discretion. If Newsom continues to press for public funding in politics, he’s only making a fool out of himself, grasping at whatever straws remain after his brutal legal defeat.