Dirty Pool

Who is subverting the democratic process more?

a) Candidate A, who uses his political allies to exploit a loophole in Oakland’s campaign finance law in order to exceed spending caps


b) Candidates B and C, who use their positions as city council legislators to attempt to modify clarify* Oakland’s campaign finance law 5 weeks before an election in order to prevent Candidate A from exploiting the longstanding loophole

Background (complete with tendentious headline) here. This is not an entirely rhetorical question, by the way.

*I changed “modify” to “clarify” above for accuracy’s sake. Candidates B and C may not precisely be trying to change the law itself, but rather mandating a particular procedure or set of “guidelines” for how the law should be interpreted and implemented. If any lawyers out there care to elaborate on the possible distinction between changing the actual statute and changing the “guidelines” used to implement the statute, then please feel free to clue me in below. For instance, would such “guidelines” be a legally binding part of the municipal code, or something less than that?

5 Responses to “Dirty Pool”

  1. Gene says:

    Candidate A, IMO. Whether the law was written correctly or without any loopholes, the intent as I understand it (and wish it to be) was to place a limit on campaign financing. The loophole that Perata and his cronies are exploiting may not be covered by the wording of the law, but certainly by the intent.

  2. Naomi Schiff says:

    Candidate A is Oakland’s Queen Meg, trying to buy an election. The bogus cancer mailing? The shenanigans with the robocalling cops? The weirdness of a guy taking large sums from the prison guards as a lobbyist? Why would we want this?

  3. Jim Ratliff says:

    Arguably it’s a good thing that two of the negatively affected candidates are city council members and so can more easily propose that the city council take up this issue. The loophole is very vaguely written, so it’s not clear how to implement it. If none of the candidates were on the council it might be less likely for the full council to take up the issue.

  4. dc says:

    Just to follow up in case anyone is unaware, the City Council’s Rules Committee declined to take Quan and Kaplan up on their proposal to retroactively “clarify” the city’s campaign finance law.

  5. wordnerd says:

    > Due, no doubt, to a moral defect on my part, I just can’t get worked up about violations of
    > campaign finance law, no matter how hard I try.

    The defect is in the law, not in yourself…What law could possibly control Murdoch Inc.?

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