LAGUNA NIGUEL : Voluntary Campaign Gift Limit Proposed

Until the city has a law limiting campaign contributions, Councilman Paul M. Christiansen is proposing that all 11 City Council candidates, including himself, accept a self-imposed limit.

Christiansen's proposal for a $150 limit for incumbents and a $200 cap for non-incumbents, along with two other more permanent plans by two citizen groups, will be up for debate this evening during a special City Council workshop at 5 in the Council Chambers.

At the requests of residents, the council decided last month to hold a series of workshops to help draft a campaign contribution ordinance, which would go into effect sometime after the November election.

But Christiansen, who is seeking his second term, said candidates should take action immediately to "reassure Laguna Niguel voters that the integrity of our elective process is focused on issues and not monetary domination of City Hall by special-interest campaign contributors."

Christiansen said Monday that he "received several strong indications from both incumbents and new candidates that they will sign the pledge."

Under Christiansen's proposal, total contributions for incumbents would be limited to $17,000, and for challengers the limit would be $20,000. All candidates would be required to make full disclosure of all contributions, loans and any promised contributions 12 days before the election.

Christiansen said he hopes that the proposal, which he believes gives challengers a fair chance in the race, will be used as the framework for the permanent law.

Two other groups also are proposing permanent ordinances. Council candidate Eddie Rose and Louis Klass propose to set a $100 limit for individual council campaign contributions, with a total cap of $10,000.

Residents Eli Naffah, James Olmsted, Michael Walsh and Paul Willems, working under the banner of Laguna Niguel Citizens for Campaign Reform, have also proposed a $100 cap and $10,000 overall limit, although they would like to see the issue decided by voters rather than the City Council.

In a recent survey of other Orange County cities, City Atty. Terry E. Dixon said, he found four cities with campaign contribution limits, ranging from $180 to $300.

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