GAME CHANGER: FOSTER CHALLENGE INVALIDATES LB CAMPAIGN REFORM ACTBy LBReport.com
Mayor Bob Foster can use money he raised for his 2010 mayoral run—against 21-year-old Cerritos College student Stevie Merino—to fund his committee seeking statewide office in 2014 despite prohibitions in Long Beach’s Campaign Reform Act enacted by voters in 1994.
The revelation came during Monday’s (Nov. 30) meeting of the city council’s Elections Oversight Committee. Assistant city attorney Heather Mahood described the effect as a “game changer” since it effectively allows Long Beach elected officials to use money left over after their city election campaign to run for other offices. To hear the Council committee (Garcia, Schipske, DeLong) colloquy with Ms. Mahood on the matter, click here.
The issue was by Foster, whose attorney contacted the city attorney’s office via an October 11, 2010, letter that cited a 1992 Ninth circuit federal appeals court case (Service Employees Int’l Union v. FPPC) on intra-candidate transfers and its recent progeny.
On review of the Oct. 2010 letter from Foster’s counsel and its cited cases, the city attorney’s office replied in a letter dated Oct. 25, 2010. In that letter the city attorney’s office agreed that federal appeals court case is applicable in holding intra-candidate transfer bans unconstitutional under the First Amendment and revealed that the city will not seek to enforce the prohibition in the LB Muni Code (Campaign Reform Act) regarding intra-candidate transfers.
Since the federal appeals court was handed down in 1992, the provision of Long Beach’s 1994-voter approved Campaign Reform Act forbidding intra-candidate transfers of funds was arguably unconstitutional at the time it was adopted by voters. Enactment of the Campaign Reform Act took place under then City Attorney John Calhoun. The provision of that ordinance relating to intra-candidate transfers presumably could have been successfully challenged by any Long Beach elected official during the past 16 years. Foster is the first to do so.