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Councilmembers Push To Ban Campaign Contributions From Developers

City Hall (Photo by Chris Carmago via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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In an effort to "increase transparency and public trust" in City Hall, three councilmembers have proposed a series of campaign finance reforms—most notably the banning of campaign donations from developers.On Tuesday, councilmembers David Ryu, Paul Krekorian, and Joe Buscaino announced they had introduced the motions to the City Ethics Commission. According to the L.A. Times, Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin had also signed onto the proposals. The proposed ban on campaign donations would prevent donors with "projects currently or recently before the City" from contributing to city officials and candidates.

"The best way to restore trust in government is to avoid even the appearance of a conflict," said Councilmember Ryu in a statement. "By introducing sweeping reforms, we will work to restore Angelenos' faith in the City's ability to fairly review and approve major development projects. We need a campaign finance system that limits the influence of big-pocketed developers, and instead empowers thousands of small donors to have their voices heard."

Ryu was elected to the City Council in 2015, and one of his campaign promises was to not accept campaign donations from developers. Ryu spokesperson Estevan Montemayor says this proposal is a continuation of this promise.

The proposal comes in the wake of two damning reports by the L.A. Times that suggest the influence of developer money on City Hall: one on the Sea Breeze project in Harbor Gateway, and another on Rick Caruso's proposed tower in Beverly Grove.

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Backers of That Terrible NIMBY Ballot Measure (now known as Measure S, formerly as the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative), have also made developer contributions a primary focus of their campaign. They write on their campaign website:

For too long, deep-pocketed developers have controlled City Hall by shelling out millions in campaign contributions to L.A. politicians, who, in return, grant “spot-zoning” approvals for mega-projects that are not normally allowed under city rules.

According to the Los Feliz Ledger, if any of the proposals do become law they would not be enacted in time for the upcoming March ballot—which includes Measure S.