All four candidates agreed on several things. Elections held entirely by mail-ballot aren’t a great idea. California’s campaign contribution database is woefully outdated. Counties should receive all the money they need to run fair and open elections. One topic that did spur division was a possible ban on fundraising.
Independent candidate Dan Schnur has proposed banning fundraising while the legislature is in session.
“I believe that if you do ban fundraising, not just for some of session, and not just for most of it, but for all of session," he says, "what you’re essentially doing is creating a separation and you’re weakening the link between political giving and government action.”
Democratic State Senator Alex Padilla is proposing a more limited ban that would take effect on and around last 100 days of a session.
"There here are 12 other states in the nation that have some form of fundraising blackout period in place," he says. "There are three other states in the nation that had fundraising blackout periods that were challenged in court for being too long and were overturned by the court.”
Republican Pete Peterson doesn’t think bans would be effective. He points to Democratic State Senator Leland Yee, who dropped out of the Secretary of State race after being arrested on corruption charges.
“Four of the six contributions that Senator Yee received from the FBI undercover agents were received while the legislature was in recess," he says. "And so to think that legislators can’t raise money outside of a fundraising ban is just baloney.”
Democrat Derek Cressman says a ban on fundraising would do nothing to reduce the influence of lobbyists.
"What will happen is the exact same lobbyists will meet with the exact same legislators the morning of the vote and rather than handing a check they will make a pledge to support that legislator after the session," he says. "They actually get to watch them and see how they vote before they deliver their check.”
The candidates are vying to replace outgoing Secretary of State Debra Bowen who is termed out of office.