San Clemente City Council to consider ’emergency’ ordinance to make campaign contributions more transparent – Orange County Register
San Clemente City Council members are considering new rules tonight, June 7, that could make campaign contributions more transparent and easier for the public to track, and would set limits on the amount that could be donated to a council candidate.
Mayor Gene James said he offered the emergency ordinance as a way to see where large donations were coming from outside the area.
“There’s a lot of money in our elections from outside sources going to an individual candidate,” James said. “Then you see the same donors giving money to a PAC, and you add the money up, and you see the donor is spending $60,000, and you wonder why they’re involved? If there is outside involvement, there will be transparency.
In May, the rest of the city council agreed to put the ordinance on the agenda and then asked city employees to prepare a report to be presented at tonight’s meeting.
The order, if approved, would establish a contribution limit of $500 per source per election. And if the council approves them, the new rules would be in place before the November election.
Contribution limits would not apply to independent expenses, ballot measurement committees, or committees seeking the removal of an officer.
The ordinance would also include a city policy requiring contractors — regardless of state reporting requirements — to make public political contributions to city council candidates made in the 12 months prior to a bid or proposal. Receipt of the contributions would not preclude local officials from making a decision about the source who made the contributions, James said.
But, the new policy would require contractors submitting their bids or proposals to the city to include any contributions made to a member of city council before submitting their proposal. By doing this, the public would have the opportunity to see who donated what to whom, he said.
Councilman Steve Knoblock said on Monday he was puzzled as to why the proposed changes are considered an emergency ordinance, adding that when council agreed to have the ordinance put on the agenda , it was not done with the intention of putting it in “urgent mode”. .”
“It’s not urgent,” he said. “There is no reason for this to be an emergency order.”
Knoblock said he wasn’t sure some of the changes would make a big difference, pointing out that campaign contributions already have to be reported and the system is already transparent with what’s available online.
“I don’t know why it’s hard to find things,” he said. “You can go online and find the information in 30 seconds. I don’t know why this is necessary in the first place.
San Clemente City Attorney Scott Smith said the decision to treat an order as urgent or non-urgent is left to the city council.
“The Board expressed concern at its last meeting about putting this on the books so that all contributions for the 2022 election cycle are subject to the same limits and disclosure requirements for the entire season,” it said. he said, adding that if it was a non-emergency ordinance it would not go to second reading until June 20 and not become law until 30 days later.
“There was a concern about the confusion of candidates and voters about having the first part of the election cycle under the old upper limits and the last part under the new lower limits,” he said.
Tonight council members will also review the regulation of bike repairs in public to tackle bike theft and the growth of homeless encampments with reported chop shops. Council will also hear a report from the Director of Community Development on the seizure of flammable items in the city’s open space and will continue the discussion on pickleball at San Gorgonio Park. And there will be a discussion to consider an overhaul of the November ballot by drafting ballot measures that would appoint the city treasurer and city clerk.
The first part of the council meeting begins at 5:00 p.m., then after a closed session at 6:00 p.m., the public meeting will reopen at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will take place at the San Clemente Community Center, 100 N.Calle Sevilla.