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Simi to Consider Spending, Donation Caps in City Races

TIMES STAFF WRITER

City leaders have agreed to draft a campaign finance ordinance that would limit individual and corporate contributions to $1,000, among other restrictions.

City Atty. David Hirsch said he will bring the proposed ordinance to the City Council in about a month. In addition to the $1,000 donation cap, the ordinance will include a time period in which politicians can solicit contributions and a voluntary spending cap of $35,000.

State election laws prohibit cities from limiting the amount of money an individual can spend on his or her campaign, but Hirsch said the ordinance may include incentives to stay within $35,000 for local campaigns. One possibility is to reduce the contribution limit to $500 for candidates who exceed the voluntary cap, he said.

Councilman Paul Miller initiated the move toward campaign finance reform, saying he was seeking to eliminate the perception of undue influence by developers giving $1,000 and $2,000 contributions. He had initially hoped to cap donations at $250.

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Currently, Simi Valley falls under state campaign finance laws, which have no limits on contributions. Simi Valley would be the third Ventura County city to cap donations, after Ventura and Thousand Oaks.

Ventura has a $200 contribution cap if candidates spend $20,000 or less, and $100 if they exceed the voluntary cap. In Thousand Oaks, candidates can receive no more than $250 from any individual or business.

Hirsch said the ordinance also may include stepped-up contribution disclosure guidelines proposed by Councilman Glen Becerra. Those include requiring that any contributions of more than $250 made within weeks of the election be reported to the city clerk within 48 hours and possibly be posted on the city’s Web site.


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