California Campaign Finance Reform

Mother Jones already gave you twelve good reasons for campaign finance reform. Here’s just a few more:

  • Senate and House campaigns raised $447.7 million between 1/1/95 and 6/30/96, a 15% increase over the same period in the 1993-94 election cycle. (FEC 8/6/96)

  • Political action committees contributed $78 million to congressional candidates during the first 15 months of the 1995-96 cycle, a 12% increase. (FEC 6/7/96)

  • Corporate PACs contributed $30.7 million to 1996 congressional candidates — more than any other type of PAC. (FEC 6/7/96)

This year, two rival initiatives are fighting to get big money out of California politics. Both measures agree on banning contributions from lobbyists, the transfer of funds between candidates, and the accumulation of surplus campaign funds or “war chests.” But beyond such similarities, they present a tough choice for the reform-minded voter:

The California Political Reform Initiative The Anti-Corruption Act of 1996
Proposition # Proposition 208 Proposition 212
Sponsor Californians for Political Reform Californians Against Political Corruption
Basic Points Individuals, PACs, corporations, and unions limited to $25,000 total yearly contributions.

Contributions to a single candidate limited to $250 for most races, $500 for statewide offices (double for candidates who agree to spending limits).

Voluntary spending limits.

Individuals limited to $2,000 total yearly contributions. Other entities limited to $10,000.

Limits contributions from individuals, PACs, and parties to $100 for most races, $200 for statewide offices.

75% of a candidate’s money must come from within their district.

Mandatory spending limits.

Opposition Viewpoint Prop 208 is less than the major overhaul demanded and needed by Californians. Proposition 212’s $100 contribution limits, mandatory spending limits, and in-district contribution limits will be ruled unconstitutional, effecting no reform at all.

The Web sites for both Prop. 208 and Prop 212 have the full text (Prop. 208 | Prop 212) of their proposition and a host of links to relevant articles and non-profit groups, giving you the opportunity to decide for yourself which one you support.

Each also offer information on how you can volunteer (Prop. 208 | Prop 212), and who the local contactscolor> (Prop. 208 | Prop 212) are in your area.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.