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Campaign Reform Petitions Submitted

Two dozen county residents armed with brooms, Brillo pads and plungers handed in more than 40,000 signatures to the county clerk Wednesday in support of statewide campaign reform.

“We’re sweeping up the money being thrown about by special interest groups,” said Mara McCarthy, a member of United We Stand America in Oxnard. “It’s time for a cleaning.”

The residents were among hundreds of volunteers across the state who submitted a total of 700,000 signatures in support of placing a campaign reform initiative on the November ballot.

The initiative--which has the support of California Common Cause, League of Women Voters of California, American Assn. of Retired Persons and United We Stand America--would place strict limits on campaign contributions and spending, ban fund-raising in nonelection years and prohibit lobbyists from giving any campaign contributions. The proposal would only affect statewide and state Legislature races.

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Two campaign reform initiatives were defeated in 1988. California is one of only seven states that place no limits on political contributions, according to Ruth Holton, executive director of California Common Cause. More than $196 million was spent on statewide and legislative races in 1994, Holton said.

“Money is dictating California politics,” said Brad Smith of Oxnard at Wednesday’s rally. “It is the root of a great deal of corruption.”

Jerrie Newman, a volunteer with the League of Women Voters, said it was easy to get people to sign the petition.

“Once we explained it to them, they were eager to sign it,” Newman said. “It’s obvious that much too much money is being spent on the political process. People are buying elections.”

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The 40,409 signatures were handed to Deputy County Clerk Jenny Harrison, who will verify the names before sending the documents within 30 days to the secretary of state in Sacramento.


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