Santa Monica raises campaign contribution limit, after 19 years
The Santa Monica City Council has voted to raise the limit on campaign contributions to $325 from the $250 set in 1992.
City staff had suggested increasing the cap to $400 to keep up with inflation. But council members Tuesday took to heart the concerns of community members who said the boost would further disenfranchise individual voters during tough economic times even as outside interests could donate the maximum.
Critics told the council that they feared a higher limit would mean their mailboxes would be stuffed with more campaign mailers, a source of controversy in 2010.
The city provides about $14,000 in taxpayer-funded support to candidates in the form of video production and TV airtime. To help defray a portion of that, council members also considered a $200 filing fee for candidates, on top of the requirement that they gather 100 signatures. Candidates could forgo the fee if they gathered additional signatures.
In Los Angeles, council candidates may receive no more than $500 per donor in a primary or runoff. Candidates in citywide races have a $1,000 cap.
The changes in Santa Monica, which has a population of nearly 90,000, are scheduled for a second reading on Nov. 22.