A Los Angeles City Council candidate for the 13th District signed the People’s Pledge early February, a vow to deny independent third party contributions in local campaigns, and has urged other candidates to do the same.
The People’s Pledge started during the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race between Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Scott Brown.
Warren proposed the pledge to Brown, which aimed to prevent independent third party contributions that could be used with or without the candidates’ support to create ads in support of or against other candidates.
Josh Post, an attorney with the California Department of Justice, is running for L.A. City Council’s 13th District, which includes cities such as Echo Park and Silver Lake, and has been leading what he calls a full grassroots campaign.
“I’ve seen the problem with money and politics. I wanted to see politics get back to a public service aspect where it’s not about the money, but who has the better ideas and who has the ability to motivate people to do things and motivate the community,” Post said.
Post said he was inspired by mayoral candidate and 13th District Councilman, Eric Garcetti, who also signed the People’s Pledge. Garcetti presented it to his fellow candidates at three subsequent community forums.
The people’s pledge does not stop a candidate from receiving contributions, which for city council candidates is capped at $700 per contribution, but prevents independent expenses where supporters, specifically special interest groups, find a loophole in that maximum contribution.
L.A. Council candidates who have not signed the pledge have collectively raised more than $140,000 in independent expenditures.
“You can’t stop people from spending money on your behalf, it’s an expression of free speech rights,” said Martin Saiz, political science professor and department chair at CSUN. “It’s basically done for symbolic reasons, to create an image of being independent. It sounds good to people.”
Because the municipal race will not be on the scale of Warren and Brown’s race, Post added in a few revisions to the People’s Pledge that fit the municipal race.
Although an independent third party cannot be prevented from spending money on a candidate, the pledge can deter them from doing so because they would be harming the candidate by paying for ads, Post said.
Skylar Grogan, 21, junior gender and women’s studies major, said she agrees that the pledge would not stop special interest groups from being involved in campaigns, especially with the controversial Supreme Court decision on corporations.
“I think it’s good but it’s a band aid (and) at the end of the day, Citizens United is still in place,” Grogran said, “Candidates can still get unlimited amounts of funding from corporations. The pledge won’t do much (and) people need to get to the root of the problem and repeal Citizen’s United.”