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California Secretary Of State Candidates Disagree On Fundraising Ban

Photo caption: Secretary of state candidates Derek Cressman (D), Sen. Alex Padilla (D), Pete...

Photo credit: Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio

Secretary of state candidates Derek Cressman (D), Sen. Alex Padilla (D), Pete Peterson (R) and Dan Schnur, an independent, debate in Sacramento on April 23, 2014.

Four candidates for California secretary of state covered issues from vote by mail elections to business licenses in a debate Wednesday. And they didn’t disagree on much.

All four candidates agreed on several things. Elections held entirely by mail ballot aren’t a great idea. California’s campaign contribution database is woefully outdated. Counties should receive all the money they need to run fair and open elections. One topic that did spur division was a possible ban on fundraising.

Independent candidate Dan Schnur has proposed banning fundraising while the Legislature is in session.

“I believe that if you do ban fundraising, not just for some of session, and not just for most of it, but for all of session what you’re essentially doing is creating a separation and you’re weakening the link between political giving and government action,” Schnur said.

Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla is proposing a more limited ban that would take effect on and around the last 100 days of a session.

"There here are 12 other states in the nation that have some form of fundraising blackout period in place," Padilla said. "There are three other states in the nation that had fundraising blackout periods that were challenged in court for being too long and were overturned by the court.”

Republican Pete Peterson doesn’t think bans would be effective. He points to Democratic state Sen. Leland Yee, who dropped out of the secretary of state race after being arrested on corruption charges.

“Four of the six contributions that Senator Yee received from the FBI undercover agents were received while the Legislature was in recess," Peterson said. "And so to think that legislators can’t raise money outside of a fundraising ban is just baloney.”

Democrat Derek Cressman said a ban on fundraising would do nothing to reduce the influence of lobbyists.

"What will happen is the exact same lobbyists will meet with the exact same legislators the morning of the vote and rather than handing a check they will make a pledge to support that legislator after the session," Cressman said. "They actually get to watch them and see how they vote before they deliver their check.”

The candidates are vying to replace Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who is termed out of office.

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