Southern California – Santa Monica voters upheld the strongest conflict of interest law in the nation yesterday, which bans politicians from taking kickbacks from people who do business with the city. Pasadena voters overwhelmingly approved a proposition to expand an identical good government law.
53% of Santa Monicans rejected the city council-backed Proposition W, that would have overturned an anti-corruption law approved by voters in 2000. 61% of Pasadena voters approved Measure B in order to ban companies from making campaign contributions to city council members while they apply for city contracts. Measure B expands the protections of a 2001 Pasadena initiative that is identical to Santa Monica’s law.
“At the end of a very long ballot, the public rejected undue influence by developers and other special interests in local government. The voters’ message is clear: Strict conflict of interest law works in Santa Monica and Pasadena,” said Carmen Balber with Election Watchdog. “After years of resistance, these cities have the obligation to accept the will of the voters and enforce the law’s protections.”
Council members in both cities had to comply with the law’s campaign rules for this election. Previous attempts by Santa Monica and Pasadena to overturn the ethics law failed, including taxpayer-funded lawsuits costing over $1 million that were rejected by the state Supreme Court.
Volunteers with the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights sponsored the conflict of interest law in Santa Monica, Pasadena, and four other California cities. It bars politicians from taking campaign contributions, gifts over $50 or employment from any person or company they award a city contract, special tax break or other public benefit.
Santa Monica council members have returned campaign contributions taken from city beneficiaries, a clear sign that the law is working as voters intended to eliminate conflicts of interest in the conduct of city business, said Election Watchdog.