Can We Make Lawmakers Wear Donor Logos like NASCAR Ads?

Friday, January 01, 2016
(photo: Courtesy of John Cox)

Since political campaigns are run like NASCAR races, fueled by money from wealthy sponsors, shouldn’t the public be just as aware of who pays candidates as racecar drivers?

So muses Republican Rancho Santa Fe venture capitalist/real estate mogul John Cox. He has proposed a ballot initiative for November 2016, California Is Not for Sale, which would require lawmakers to wear logos of their Top 10 contributors and include them on any advertising.

“We have a system under which people who want something from government fund the campaigns of the people who make those decisions,” Cox told U.S. News and World Reports. “In any other solar system that would be considered corrupt.”

The state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) would determine the donors and sketch in the details to Cox’s admittedly sketchy initiative. Cox submitted the initiative (pdf) to the California Attorney General’s Office for title and summary on October 27. He will begin collecting the needed 365,880 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot on January 1.

The initiative is a response to the growing role of money in politics unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling. Corporate and private donors can now make enormous contributions to causes and politicians with little accountability. Dark money is coin of the political realm. 

In its assessment (pdf) of the likely fiscal effect of the legislation, should it pass, the independent state Legislative Analyst’s Office wrote, “Legal challenges to this measure are possible.”

Cox is a troublemaker. He is chairman of the Rescue California Foundation and has proposed the “Neighborhood Legislature Reform Act” initiative multiple times. The law would have increased “the size of the Legislature almost 100-fold by dividing current Assembly and Senate districts into neighborhood districts such that each Assemblymember represents about 5,000 persons and each Senator represents about 10,000 persons.”

The result would be about 12,000 elected representatives.” It failed to qualify for the November 2014 ballot but Cox has his eye on 2018.

The Chicago native sought the Republican nomination for president in 2008, but dropped out early in the race. He also ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the U.S. Senate and the House.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Politicians May Have to Wear Donor Logos in California (by Steven Nelson, U.S. News & World Reports)

California Moves to Force Lawmakers to Wear the Logos of Their Corporate Donors (by Colin Taylor, Occupy Democrats)

Californian’s Ballot Initiative Would Require Legislators to Wear Logos of Top 10 Contributors (by Valerie Richardson, Washington Times)

Who Funds California Politicians? Initiative Would Have Them Wear the Answer (by Jeremy B. White, Sacramento Bee)

Proposed Ballot Measures Could Expand State Lawmakers to 12,000 or Split California into Six States (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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