Membership on the Local Governance Committee is open to all League members. The committee meets on the first Friday of every month at 9:30am in the League office.
The Local Governance Committee deals with campaign reform issues, such as transparency of Independent Expenditure Committees to educate voters about misleading campaign materials. We look at coordination among local governments and how well processes used by local governments are working and consider consolidation of local agencies. We also coordinate the work of the Observer Corps.
What to Look For in Campaign Financing
Money influences campaigns. Some support of a campaign is subject to the control of the candidate or initiative campaign managements. Substantial financial support flows from special interests. Identifying the interests in support or against a candidate or issue is not always an easy task. To assist you we have prepared a checklist document to assist you in evaluating candidates and ballot measures.
To support transparency we list here links to identifying the sources of campaign financing. Each jurisdiction within the County, as a policy decision, decides whether or not to post campaign financial support documents online.
- The City of San Rafael, City Clerk, posts California Form 460 here.
- The County of Marin, Registrar of Voters, posts California Form 460 here.
We will add additional Marin jurisdications as they begin to post these discloures.
Negative Campaigns Hurt Democracy
Negative political campaigns, like the infamous “swift boat” campaign against presidential candidate John Kerry, are insidious and hard to combat. Unfortunately, such dirty tactics occur in local politics as well as on the national stage.
Such campaigns are generally carried out by Independent Expenditure Committees (IECs), who can raise and spend as much as they want to discredit a candidate or measure. The only restriction on their activities is that they must not coordinate their efforts with any candidate. While IECs aren’t illegal, we believe there should be greater transparency to their activities, so that voters can better assess the credibility of their allegations.
Negative political campaigns hurt democracy: they suppress voter turnout by causing voters to despair of finding a good candidate; they encourage emotional rather than reasoned voting; and they discourage qualifed candidates from even running for office.
It is because of such harm to the political proccess that the League of Women Voters of Marin County formed a Campaign Reform Committee to address the issue at a local level. Our efforts, and those of other concerned citizens and elected officials, have met with some success: on June 2, 2009, the county Board of Supervisors adopted a campaign reform ordinance that mandates greater transparency regarding the major funders of Independent Expenditure Committees. IECs are often the perpetrators of negative political mailers and TV ads, yet voters have been unable to “consider the source,” as donors heretofore have not been identified.
Our involvement in local Campaign Reform
An interview describing our approach to identifying the sources of negative campaign messages.