VENTURA : Limits Sought on Campaign Donations

A Ventura city councilman and four citizen groups say they want to put an initiative on the November ballot limiting campaign contributions for council candidates.

The initiative would limit contributions for council candidates to $100 per donor, be they from individuals, businesses or political action groups. But if candidates agreed to limit their overall campaign spending to $20,000, they could receive contributions of as much as $200 per donor under the initiative.

Councilman Steve Bennett--together with the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, the Sespe Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Voters Coalition of Ventura--filed papers with the city clerk Thursday, allowing them to begin to raise funds for the effort.

Bennett took a similar proposal to the City Council in December, but the item lost on a 2-4 vote, with Bennett and Councilman Gary Tuttle voting in favor, and Councilman Jack Tingstrom absent.

"From the number of people who have contacted me since I proposed this, I'm convinced that the overwhelming majority of citizens in this city support campaign contribution limits," Bennett said. "From conservatives to liberals, from slow-growth to pro-growth, the broad variety of people has been impressive."

Bennett said the group intends to gather more than 8,000 signatures to ensure that he can deliver the 5,800 signatures of registered voters needed to qualify for the ballot. The petitions are due at the clerk's office June 1.

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